cheeses & meats tray
A friend is coming over next week & we have decided in lieu of dinner or ordering a pizza to have some wine & cheeses etc. There will only be 2 of of so I don't want to go hog wild buying too much variety. Any suggestions for about 3 or 4 cheeses & maybe 2 or 3 meats?
I was thinking maybe Roquefort, a brie or goat (with jam or nuts on either one), maybe Pecorino Romano and/or a Cheddar or Gruyere . For meats all I could come up with is Proscutto and Salami or Capricola or chorizo. I will also have olives, maybe bread or crackers, maybe nuts.
It's good to think of meat and cheese pairings. I would do Proscucitto with either Italian Fontina or Parmigiano and then a Salami with a good Pecorino. For a cheese alone, since the others are Italian, I would choose a nice Gorgonzola. The other item I would add is some roasted red peppers which goes nicely with both the meats.
Roasted red peppers and wine.....a great pairing for the mixed anitpasto you're creating. Parmigiano is made from cow's milk and has a hint of butter pecan flavor to it. Pecorino is made from sheep's milk and is salty and sharp. I suggested the Fontina because it is a softer cheese but if I could only have one cheese forever it would be Parmigiano. I suggested a theme of Italian because it is easier to choose items that go well together rather than have them "clash" like I feel they can if you go too far with different flavors. Edited addition. Are you going to have specific wines or it this just a get together where you will drink wine? That can certainly make a difference in your menu.
I love cured meats more than almost any other food. Prosciutto is pretty much the gold standard, Volpi makes some very nice wine-cured salamis if you can find them ( http://www.volpifoods.com/products/wi... ), and I agree that something spicy is also in order, like a hot soppresata salami or "gabbagool" -- capicola ham.
It might not seem "classy" enough for a cheese tray, but don't discount a high-quality provolone to pair with the salami, maybe a smoked provolone if you can find one. I also really like smoked gouda, and cheeses with little thingees inside of them, like Wensleydale with apricots (nice and sweet to counterbalance the salty spiciness of the meats), or a horseradish cheddar, or one of my all-time favorites, Cahill's Irish Porter Cheddar:
If you get chorizo (which is an awesome and overlooked choice), a Spanish manchego cheese would be excellent to pair with it.
Definitely get some roasted peppers and possibly sundried tomatoes, and fig preserves (which go perfectly with goat cheese).
I think your proposed board sounds fine, though I like to see a milder cheese than pecorino romano paired with prosciutto -- maybe a fontina? 2 hours of super salty prosciutto with nutty cheese leads to palate fatigue in my experience.
You can of course mitigate the risk of palate fatigue by adding sour elements to a cheese board. I am particularly fond of artichoke hearts, fig chutney, peppadew peppers and pickled grapes. For a general fall cheese board, I would consider highlighting a rustic pate de campagne with coarsely ground mustard, alongside a ham (capicolla or the prosciutto) and a hearty beef product like bresaola. For cheeses, I'd go with aged manchego, cheddar and La Tur for a crowd pleasing little bit of everything.
My salumi platter would consist of:
Sopressata & Prosciutto Crudo, Gorgonzola & Fiori di Latte, Seedless Grapes & Fresh Figs (or pears, apples), Roasted Red Peppers, Ciabatta.