Cheese tasting at On Rue Tatin

Cheese tasting at On Rue Tatin

The cheese course is one of the crowning glories of French cuisine.  It arrives at the end of the meal, before dessert, because cheese contains enzymes that help with digestion.  It’s that simple!

Putting together a wonderful cheese platter is simple too.

Think “less is more”, quality over quantity.

Four cheeses is a great number, with five varieties being a maximum.

Constants, when choosing cheeses:

  • Include different textured cheeses, from soft to hard.
  • Choose different flavors, from mild to strong.
  • Choose different colors, from white to blue.
  • Think about seasons – some cheeses, like Vacherin, are strictly seasonal.
  • Finally, if you’ve found a cheese that is so special, so amazing, so unusual, serve it by itself.
At my local épicerie fine, Maison Clet

At my local epicerie fine, Maison Clet

The other rule of thumb is to serve raw milk cheeses.  Raw milk develops and ages in flavor, and gives the best possible flavored cheese. An increasing number of states are allowing the production of raw milk cheeses, and cheeses aged more than sixty days can be imported into the U.S.  So, keep an eye out.

Cheese tray options:

Go local: choose four or five locally made cheeses.   It’s always nice to mix goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses of different textures.

Camembert de Normandie, ready to eat

Camembert de Normandie, ready to eat

Go French: cheese affineur Herve Mons brings great cheeses into the U.S  His name is on them, and he’s  got an exclusive with Whole Foods.  There’s also http://www.fromages.com/en/

  • a young goat cheese
  • a soft-rind cheese like Camembert or Pont l’Eveque,
  • a soft cheese like St. Felicien
  • a mountain cheese like Comte, Beaufort, or Abondance,
  • a blue cheese like Bleu d’Auvergne or Roquefort.

Go Blue: you’ll probably want to go international on this.

  • Roquefort
  • Gorgonzola
  • Stilton
  • Maytag

Go One Perfect Cheese: if you’ve found it, make it THE feature.

  • Vacherin
  • Camembert
  • Roquefort Carles or Gabriel Coulet
  • Cougar Gold

When it comes to bread, simple and delicious is best.  I like to serve baguette, no nuts, no dried fruits, no seeds.  This way, the cheese is the star.

BON APPETIT!

 

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18 Responses to Create a Cheese Tray for Easter

  1. Kelly says:

    Thanks Susan! I love Herve Mons and this is a great idea for Easter lunch!

  2. James Navé says:

    I’ve always been impressed with people who are fluent with their knowledge of cheese. I feel a bit better now. Thanks Susan.

  3. What a great selection. I am going to be on the look out for raw milk cheese. Thanks for the great tips.

  4. We are lucky that in Portland there are 2 great sources of cheese. Pastaworks, on Hawthorne Blvd. and any of the the New Seasons Groceries. I’ve researched because I’m lactose intolerant, but can eat raw mild cheeses. Yum! I love the Val D’Osta cheese from Tuscany.

    • Susan says:

      MaryLouise,

      You are lucky,and lucky to have them available. You could probably eat raw Camembert, but you’d have to come here to get it. So, come here!

  5. Eileen Doherty says:

    Susan,

    I love this idea. Totally adopting it. And may I say that I love your style – sticking the names of the cheeses in the champagne corks….steeling that….

    Eileen

  6. Looking forward to including a cheese course after my leg of lamb on Easter!!
    Thank you for the idea!!!
    Another Susan!

  7. Nan says:

    Thanks, very informative. There’s nothing better than good cheese. Now what about my cholesterol?
    🙂

    • Susan says:

      Nan,

      I am not a nutritionist, but if you ask around, you find that it might just be that cheese isn’t the demon you think it is. In fact, it may be a very healthful thing for you!

  8. Gina says:

    I love cheese in France! Thank you for the simple reminder to keep it simple. My last New Year’s Eve dinner I was in charge of the cheese tray. I chose 7…way too many. I’ll remember this next time as I prepare the famous desired course at the end of the meal. Love those enzymes!

  9. Susan, great and delicious information, looking very appealing…Thank you for sharing your passion…

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