cheese course accompaniment?
i'm looking for suggestions for things to serve with a cheese course - i.e. little bites that complement the flavors of a traditional cheese plate. in the past i've used apple/pear slices, candied pecans, fig tapenade...do you have any suggestions or recipes?
also, since we're having this for dessert we were thinks of serving small, rich chocolate cookies or truffles as well, for those who must have a sweet...any suggestions/recipes that wouldn't clash with the cheese?
its decadent, but its the holidays..
Membrillo (Spanish quince paste) goes very well with dessert cheese courses. Also, grapes, cherries, and blackberries can work well if you can get them. Date/nut breads and things like that work well. As do dates in general. I wouldn't hesitate to include prosciutto either.
I've had chocolate truffles with black pepper that paired really well with big, red wines. I would imagine they would go well with your cheese plate.
Fruits, jams, honey, all kinds of nuts are lovely cheese accompaniements.
Some specifics that I like:
Dried cherries go really well with epoisses.
Membrillo and honey with manchego.
Crisp and sharp Chinese pears along with walnuts are great with creamy rich blue cheeses, e.g. Fourme d'Ambert, Saint Agur
How about having the choc truffles after the cheese course to separate the flavours? You can drink port with both of them, and it could aid the transition from one course to the next.
BTW, for those who can't drink alcohol, high quality teas can be a good substitute for wine. I find basic woodsy teas like Assam or Darjeeling go quite nicely with creamy pure-tasting cheeses like a Brillat-Savarin; most goat cheese should also be fine. There's not much of a fruit component in some of the teas that I like, but you can make up for it with dried fruits, sliced apples, membrillo etc... For more complex stuff, I'm hoping to experiment with mellow tie guan yin/iron goddess of mercy, smokey oolongs, rich peety pu-erhs etc...., but haven't had a chance yet.
Certain varieties/grades of dragon well come with a distinctive chestnut/peanut flavour and should pair with subtle cheeses that go well with nuts. I think some of the hard cheeses might work, but again, yet to do the experiment.
And teas will handle both cheese and chocolate too.
Great suggestions. We had a cheese course at our wedding and served a few of the cheeses you mentioned (St. Agur, Epoisses as well as Etorki, L'Edel de Cleron and Selles sur Cher) with many of your accompaniments, including port. Some specialty food stores sell containers of dried apricots stuffed with almonds and dates stuffed with walnuts that are pretty and work well with the cheeses. There is also a dense Spanish cake made with almonds and figs that goes beautifully with sheep's milk cheeses.
I was out for afternoon tea recently and they served this killer Stilton with both a ruby port and some kind of smoky tea (maybe oolong?). I knew the port would go nicely but I couldn't believe how well the tea worked with the cheese. Highly recommended.
Honey goes very well with goat cheese, I also like dried cherries with other cheeses. At Otto, they serve all of their cheeses with three accompaniments a black truffle honey, a cherry "sauce" (more bitter than sweet) and a slightly spicy apricot "sauce," all are really good.
A not-too-sweet cookie/biscuit would be good: I like Carr's Wholemeal Biscuits if you can find them. They're like a more robust, wheaty-nutty graham cracker.
Hi, we love a fruit salsa (cranberry or cherry is our fav.) with a nice triple blue cheese and also honey on a thin slice of aged parm. is wonderful. I think the best thing we've learned about having a cheese course is to limit the number of cheeses to 3 or 4. More than that and the palate gets confused.
As far as something sweet to have, I think I'd use a biscotti, great to dunk into port or a sweet red wine or even coffee or tea.