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01.13.2005

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say cheese how to put together a cheese plate by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3 4
continued from page 2

storing your cheeses
After finally narrowing down your selection at the market and bringing the winning assortment back home, a little care is in order if your party's still a few days away, and you want to ensure that your cheese will stay tasty. Now if you've bought your cheese at a supermarket, chances are high that it'll come wrapped up in plastic. This is actually not a terribly good way to store cheese, as the plastic traps in too much moisture and can cause the cheese to get moldy (and not in a good blue-cheese way). Greaseproof/wax paper or parchment paper actually makes a much better wrap, as it'll keep enough moisture in that the cheese won't dry out, while remaining permeable enough to allow the cheese to breathe. For particularly pungent cheeses, wrap in a second layer of paper, or pop the paper-wrapped cheese in a plastic bag, to keep the smell from seeping out and into every other food item in its vicinity. Seal your wrapped cheese with tape or a rubber band, and pop into the fridge.

presenting your cheeses
Cheese is at its most flavorful when it's at room temperature. So about an hour to a half-hour before party time, you'll want to take your lovely cheeses out from the fridge, and let them warm up a bit.

A nice, heavy wood or bamboo cutting board makes a dandy surface on which to display your cheese offerings, as it'll look purty and offer a large flat surface on which to cut. There's no need to slice or dice up your cheese in advance, as it'll only dry out midway through your soiree. For whole cheeses, like Camembert, you can cut out a small wedge to get things started just before the party starts (and pop it on a cracker for yourself to enjoy, of course); for all other cheese, simply serve whole (do make sure to discard the wrapping, of course). Each cheese should have its own cutting utensil -- a sharp knife for hard cheeses, a butter knife or other good spreading utensil for softer cheeses) plus plenty of room around it to make it easy for guests to help themselves.

a spanish cheese plate
hunk of Manchego (hard, sharp and nutty)
  chunk of Cabrales (blue, crumbly and pungent)
half or whole Tetilla (semi-soft & mellow, shaped rather amusingly like a breast)

an italian cheese plate
a bowl of bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls)
a slab of gorgonzola
a hunk of real parmigiano reggiano
a chunk of fontina

 

don't stop: more this way

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