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Cheese Course Help!

  • b

So I'm doing dessert for a small group (just 4 of us) on Saturday and was thinking of putting together a cheese course, and figured I'd use Chowhound to get suggestions.

I've only gotten into cheese in the last year or so, so there are huge holes in my knowledge and pairing abilities. Here goes:

My current thoughts are (1) taleggio (2) very unsure (3) humboldt fog and (4) valdeon, with the obvious figs, walnuts, honey, and grapes. Also thinking a late harvest Muscato to round it out.

My questions are (1) am I going about this the wrong way in mixing these cheeses? (2) if so, what are some alternatives, (3) any suggestions for cheese number two? (4) how much total cheese do I need for 4 ppl (thinking 3/4 pound)?

Thanks much!

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  1. I'll have to think about a cheese No. 2, but my first reaction is that I'd rather have red wine with those cheeses than a late harvest wine. Will be interested to see what others have to say. I like to serve slices of toasted nut/raisin bread with cheese. Don't know where you live, but here in NYC I usually buy those little walnut raisin rolls and slice them & toast them. I'd probably get a half pound or so of each cheese and then enjoy leftovers, if any.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth
      b
      BabyLItiGator

      Thanks for all the help so far!
      The second cheese is starting to look like a piave or a manchego or parm (I love roaring 40s, but the wax just isn't great for presentation).
      Also having second thoughts about humboldt fog. I love the texture, but the thought of trying to cut a room temperature 1/4 pound piece of a cheese that tall into tasting-sized pieces is a bit scary. Might grab a bucheron instead.

      Any thoughts on wine pairing?

      1. re: BabyLItiGator

        What about a Tomme de Savoie?

      2. re: MMRuth

        It might depend on the intensity of the moscato in question. Many dessert wines have enough fruit and acidity to complement cheese well. I think the typical apricot flavour of a sauterne will work well with the cheeses you've listed so far, especially the humboldt fog.

      3. One thing I would say as someone who loves a good cheese course, please beware and know your guests - some of us are allergic to nuts and cannot have this great bread w/ nuts in it...and cannot have anything on the same plate...this has sadly ruined (before I started asking) entire cheese plates for me...just a note in case you are unsure of some of your guests...

        1. I wish I could help you, but alas, wine and cheese pairing is a relative weakness for me. It sounds like you have sketched out a plan, and I personally love Humboldt Fog. Laura Werlin has written a book on wine and cheese pairings that would be a good resource. If you don't get the help you need here, you should repost on General Topics where cheese issues are typically discussed. You also might want to scroll down on that board since similar questions have been recently asked. Good luck!

          1. that sounds like a good start. keep in mind, it's nice to vary texture, type of milk, and age. Humboldt fog will definitely appeal to all types of folks, cheese novice or afficionado. Taleggio will be for the bolder dispositions. i'd go for a sheep's milk as well. and something aged. and a blue is always good...
            a cheese plate i did a while ago fed about 6 folks...

            mirableu (spanish pyrenees) - grenacha spanish red

            vacherion mont d'or - raw cow's milks, soft rind like brie, REALLY pungent, served with baguettes and boiled potatoes, also with the spanish red

            Banon Feuille, soft creamy goat cheese, like chevre, usually wrapped in chestnut leaves and cured in brandy, drizzled with honey and chopped roasted hazelnuts -- with spanish cava

            fiore sardo, aged sheep's milk cheese from italy

            murcia al vino--semi soft, rinsed in red wine. similar to drunken goat, mild enough for novices.

            i just loaded up on grenacha (las rocas) and some cava. folks contributed other things. for four folks, i wouldn't go fo rmore than 1/2 pound of each type of cheese. but i serve other food, too. so if it's primarily cheese, add a couple of ounces more.

            quince paste (membrillo) is really good with taleggio. as are any pantry preserves, like fig, raspberry, or more exotic ones like apple garlic (from earth and vine i think).

            for wine, the moscato may detract from teh nuances of those cheeses. i'd opt for standard reds, and whites. Cava or champagne is always a good choice. If you want something sweeter, asti spumante would be delicious.

            good luck

            1. It sounds good so far, you've got a goat, a strong cow and a bleu. If you're going for diversity, I would probably round it out with either a hard cheese (parm, pecorino, dry jack) a cheddar or a semi-soft.