I was totally excited this week when I received a question from a reader about cheese plates! Not only was I so happy to hear from someone who reads the blog, but she asked me about my one of my favorite subjects cheese. The question was, "What cheese would you serve for a pre-dinner appetizer to be served with holiday cocktails?" Now to take this one step further there are going to be many family members from each side who have never met before. Here is what the hip hostess has to say.
The following cheeses are rated the top 4 in the U.S. according to the 2013 American Cheese Society (How do we get that job?) So, not only are you providing the best 4 cheeses for a plate: a creamy mild goat cheese, a bloomy-rind sheep's milk cheese, a blue-cheddar hybrid and an American original. But you are also providing a beautiful tray and conversation piece. I would type out and print a 5x7 menu that goes with your theme or decor to go beside the cheese that allows everyone to know what they are eating. It always makes tasting new foods that much more fun when you know they are the best of the best. It will be a little more trouble than picking up cheese at the grocery store, you will more than likely have to order them online. But it I think the holiday's are worth a little more work to make something extra special. Plus getting everyone chatting and talking about their favorites is a terrific ice breaker.
For accouterments, I would serve them with grapes, nuts and dried fruit. As a side note, Savory Spoon also won an award for a Wisconsin cinnamon-spiced panforte cake enriched with honey, spices, dried fruit, citrus and nuts which would make a great addition as well.
Here are the 4 cheeses:
1. Bermuda Triangle
Origin: Arcara, California
Milk: Pasteurized goat's milk
Notes: Hints of peppery flavor and an eclectic triangular shape. For a treat, drizzle a slice with balsamic vinegar. Also, from the maker's of the ever popular Humboldt Fog
2. Dirt Lover
Origin: Weston, Missouri
Milk: Pasteurized sheep's milk
Notes: Made from the milk of the farm's 100 percent grassfed sheep, the cheese tastes of cream with a citrus finish.
3. Red Rock
Origin: Shullsburg, Wisonsin
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Notes: Natural rind, vibrant-orange cheese that is a cheddar but with slight blue veining which adds muted blue flavors.
4. Bear Hill
Origin: Grafton, Vermont
Milk: Raw sheep's milk
Notes: One of just a few hard cheeses from sheep's milk. Milky, fruity and nutty. This one won gold at the 2013 International Cheese Awards.
Thanks for writing to hip hostess and don't forget to let me know how it goes. Good luck and happy holidays.