Mother’s Day Cheese Board
Entertaining does not have to be complicated. However, even the simplest act of putting it together must be thoughtfully prepared. I love making and enjoying scrumptious appetizers but many times I want to focus and spend my time on making the main dishes or desert. Serving a cheese board as an appetizer for whatever it is you celebrate is such an easy and delightful way to start. As I mentioned in my last column, season is an important guiding principle for the art of eating well. The same goes with creating a cheese board, whether for Mother’s day, Easter or Christmas celebration.
For Mother’s day, since we are still in Spring time, I put together a selection of milder and lighter texture cheeses. Before we make our selection, we should follow a few easy steps on creating a nicely curated cheese board. In my previous column on buying cheeses, I put emphasis on type of milk, texture, flavor and style of cheese. And make sure you have extras such as preserves, cured meat, crackers, dried fruits, fresh fruits, honey, olives. Or you can be as simple as just cheese and beautiful artisan bread. Most of time I like the simplicity of enjoying cheese and bread alone!
But, how many variety of cheeses? It depends on how many people you are serving. For 10 or more you can go up to 5 or 6 varieties. But for small gatherings up to 8, three varieties should be more than enough.
Type of Milk
For special occasions, I suggest anyone to get out of her/his own comfort zone in selecting the type of milk. Why not mix soft goat’s cheese with hard sheep’s milk or mix cheeses which have three type of milk?
The rule of thumb again is to mix the textures. It is very easy. You can mix creamy, semi firm, and chalky.
Flavor and Style
Here we should be thinking more of balance and less of too much contrasting style and flavor. For example we don’t want to serve delicate Triple Cream together with intense flavor of aged cheese such as Gouda or extra sharp Cheddar. For intensity matching, we may want to serve complex flavor creamy soft cheese with complex aged cheese. In other words, we don’t want the flavor of one type of cheese dominating the others. Mixing style such as creamy, blue, semi firm, firm is so much fun.
My selection for the Mother’s Day Cheese Board:
For 3 Cheeses
La Tur, an Italian soft ripened cheese that looks like a cupcake, very creamy and delicate but has intensity and complexity that will delight and surprise you. Serve with Local Honey
Reserva 12, this is a mixed milk of goat, cow and sheep made by Garcia Baquero from Spain. The taste is milky, nutty with interesting nuances that I have not found in other mixed milk type of cheese. Aged 12 months. Serve this with cashew and pistachio.
Cambozola, a delightful blue cheese. It is a very light blue flavor and extra creamy. This cheese has won over the taste buds of many people who do not like blue cheese.
If you are inclined not to have blue cheese you may substitute Ossau Iraty for Cambozola. It is a semi firm aged sheep milk cheese which reaches its peak this time of year. Enjoy this with cherry preserves.
For 5 Cheeses
Fromager D’affinois, super creamy triple cream cow’s milk from France. This is a versatile creamy cheese. Serve this with ramp pesto or berries preserves.
Bucheron, French log shape aged goat cheese, lemony paste in the center, and creamy just under the rind. This tastes amazing with lavender honey.
Rosa, newly released cheese from Reverie Creamery. It is a semi firm cow’s milk cheese that is delicately infused with organic rose petals. You won’t necessarily taste the rose, it is the subtle change in milk taste after the infusion that is delightful.
Midnight Moon, semi firm goat milk cheese aged about 9 months. The style is known as washed curd which is Gouda style. You will notice a long lingering sweet salty caramel taste.
Shropshire Blue, this English blue cheese is un-mistakenly very much like stilton but milder. The color is deep orange which is great to add the color in the mix. The color is from annatto which are seeds of flowers from the Achiote tree. This natural coloring has been used for hundred of years for painting and food coloring. The flavor of the cheese is very savory and reminds me of roasted vegetables. The texture is cakey. Fantastic with honey comb if you can find one.
How to arrange the board? Well, it is simple! If you Google “cheese board”, you will get so many inspirations and you can choose one that suits your style. After all It is “your” cheese board.
When in doubt ask your cheesemongers what selection fits your style and budget. Start planning your board for this Mother’s Day Celebration.
Author: Riko Chandra
Published at The Ledger Thursday, May 11, 2017