Christmas Cheese Course for Beginners?
I have been asked to bring the cheese for Christmas Eve dinner. I have a small family of six and this will be one of several courses. I am adventerous and willing to eat anything once, but not everyone feels the same way I do about stinky cheese:).
Can anyone suggest an ideal cheese selection and approximately how much to bring for six? If I get to the cheese shop without a plan, I'll end up buying some of everything...
Thanks so much!
Here are some that I like, all of which can be found at Trader Joe's and probably Whole Foods...
Aged Gouda, TJ's has one called "Old Amsterdam", which is rich and delish.
Huntsman, is Stilton and Double Glouster layered together. Visually nice, and the Glouster tempers the Stilon, which is strong. Love it!
Manchego, is a nice, nutty cheese that nearly all should love.
Cambozola, is like Brie, crossed with blue cheese. Not too strong, compared to many blues. Soft and spreadable.
Apricot or Cranberry Stilon, is a nice addition. Fruit is added. There is NO blue cheese flavor in my opinion. Tastes like fruit and ricotta that has firmed up and set.
A nice aged cheddar, about 5 years, white or yellow. TJs had a nice white cheddar from New Zealand, I think. Probably not 5 years old, but it's nice.
Emanthaler is a nice, sharp Swiss cheese. Very nice.
That's a start! I do loves me some cheese.
If you want to make it super easy -- but not neccessarily less expensive -- a classic cheese course to top off a great Christmas dinner is a lovely aged Stilton, some walnuts (to be shelled at table, or preshelled halves), and a glass of your favorite port. If the budget allows, it's nice to offer both tawny and ruby port with the Stilton. Ripe crisp pears or apples go well too.
If you're not familiar with Stilton (and forgive me if you are), it's a mild classic blue cheese. Some claim it is the greatest blue in the world, outranking France's Roquefort. A really good Stilton is not "smelly." I find that more "first timers" like Stilton than brie, for example. But give it a taste at your local cheese shop and see what you think. Maybe take along a walnut in your pocket?
There is something magic about the family still gathered around the table, talking and laughing, cracking walnuts with their hands, eating Stilton and sipping port. It's a memory builder!
I have also been in the situation to put together a cheese plate for non-adventurous eaters. Seriously, they thought a cheese plate consisted of the pre-cut cubes of waxy cheddar and monterrey jack. Here is what they liked (and I enjoyed):
Double Gloucester with Chives
St Andre is really good and non threatening.It's very creamy and a little tangy, like a firmer more flavourful brie. My skinny sister ate the whole wedge I had in my house one night AFTER she ate the steak I broiled for her.