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Perfect Pairings for Easy Entertaining

August 19, 2011

Treat your friends and family to a global culinary adventure by hosting a casual cheese tasting party in place of a sit-down meal. MyGourmetConnection’s suggested pairings of cold meats, cheeses, condiments and beverages will set the scene for a memorable get-together that’s easy on the host and hostess.

The Menu:

Norway’s famous Jarlsberg is a mild cow’s milk cheese with a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and smooth texture. It pairs well with cubed or thin-sliced turkey, crisp seedless grapes and buttered pumpernickel rounds.

Woolwich Dairy’s Triple Creme Goat Brie is a soft-ripened goat’s milk cheese from Canada. It has a fresh grassy flavor and a rich, creamy texture. It’s delicious served with the subtle spice of Black Forest ham and a condiment with tangy, fruit flavors like a homemade chutney.

The Gran Maestre Manchego Semicurado (also available under the Villacenteno label) is a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain that has been aged for 3 months to produce a nutty, buttery flavor. Serve with dry-cured ham, preferably a Spanish Serrano or Italian Prosciutto, and accompany the pairing with fresh or dried figs and spice-toasted almonds.

The Planning:

Determining how much to buy can be a bit tricky, but when cheese and meats (charcuterie) make up the whole menu, plan on about 1 ounce of each cheese per person and about the same for the meats. Using these guidelines, 1/2 pound of each of the cheeses and meats we’ve suggested here should serve 8 people. If you don’t mind leftovers, you may want to allow a little extra of each to be safe.

The Presentation:

Plan on taking your cheese out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving for the best flavor and texture. Group the proper pairings together on decorative plates, wooden boards or marble slabs and have small plates, picks and napkins available so your guests can munch and mingle easily throughout the evening.

Generally speaking, white wines pair best with this cheese assortment. Suggestions include Chablis or White Burgundy, Semi-dry Riesling, un-oaked Chardonnay and a sparkling Spanish Cava.

Quick Tip:

To make buttered pumpernickel rounds: Get a loaf of fresh, thin-sliced pumpernickel bread. Using a round biscuit cutter, cut 2 or 3 rounds from each slice. Spread each round with a very thin layer of softened butter and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt. Bake in a 400° oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until toasted and crisp.

To find the recipe for our easy-to-make Apple-Cranberry Chutney, more info on choosing the right wine and beer for your party and additional tips for creating the perfect cheese board, visit: www.MyGourmetConnection.com/cheeseplate/

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