Planning the Perfect Cheese Plate

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Are you winding down your summer dinner party schedule but still looking for new ideas to give your appetizers a bit of European class?  Cheeses of Europe, sampling this week at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, has some tips on how to add some international flair to your cheese plates.

First, decide what goes on the board. Jasmine Longshore from Cheeses of Europe suggests four types of cheese to satisfy anyone’s palate: Soft (including Triple Crème, Brie, Camembert or Pont-L’ Évéque), Semi-Soft (Emmental), Hard (Comté or Mimolette) and Blue (Fourme d’Ambert or Bleu d’Auvergne). Taste progresses from mild (in the soft group) to strong (the blue cheeses).

“If you are setting a plate for 4-6 people, it’s important to have a variety of tastes,” said Longshore. “For example, a significant number of people don’t like the stronger blue cheeses. Give them enough variety in milder cheeses.”

Adding nuts, fruit like dried apricots or grapes, and honey also is important, she said. “It depends on your tastes which fruits or nuts you like, but having other items on the cheese plate helps separate the tastes of the individual cheese. Drizzling warm honey on cheese like a warm brie also brings out the flavors of both.”

The Cheeses of Europe Marketing Council is composed of French dairy farmers and cheese firms and is led by The French Dairy Inter-Branch Organization (CNIEL). The Council’s mission is to create awareness about the variety of the cheeses of Europe available on the U.S. market and the multiple ways that American consumers can incorporate the cheeses into their diets, their recipes and their lifestyles. See serving tips, wine pairings and recipes at www.cheesesofeurope.com.

Alex ReillyFOODIE