Seriously Simple: Easy entertaining? It's all about the cheese course
There are many of us who love to include a cheese course when entertaining. I love it because it is fun to put together and requires no cooking.
Sometimes the occasion calls for a platter of elegant cheeses, condiments, good bread and a glass of wine to begin a meal. Other times, ending a meal with a fruit and cheese course is just the thing. Best of all, cheese courses are the essence of Seriously Simple; they are elegant flavorful and easy to assemble. They are also a clever solution for casual get-togethers like viewing the Super Bowl or the many award shows.
You'll want to choose three or four different cheeses with a variety of textures, such as soft, semisoft and firm. Pair the cheeses with sliced bread, crackers, fresh fruit and high-end condiments or nuts, depending upon the course served. Remove the cheeses from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving, keeping them wrapped. They should be eaten at slightly below room temperature.
Just before serving, arrange wedges of cheese on a large wooden tray, flat wicker basket or flat ceramic platter, grouping the fruits, nuts, breads or condiments around the cheeses. Lemon leaves are pretty on the platter. To prepare the platter ahead, cover just the cheeses with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and add the accompaniments before serving.
Here are ideas for cheese courses to pair with wine, using the guidelines below for your wine selections. The starter course could be served before a meal or as an appetizer as guests are arriving. The last course offers suggestions for a dessert spread to serve after dinner, or even as a late-night course on its own.
These are highly flavorful cheeses with nutty flavors. Look for goat cheese logs coated with herbs or seasonings. Add a country pate or slices of smoked salmon for a heartier platter. Some examples include:
Port du Salut or Morbier