If you’re curious about cheese and have never tried it with your meals before, now is a good time to start. Cheese is the new wine. There are now more varieties than ever, each with its own unique flavor and texture.
Visit your local deli and you may be surprised that the types of cheese now outnumber the types of cold cuts. Most specialty cheese shops will let you taste the different varieties before you buy, so make sure you get something you like. The following are four great ways to introduce new varieties of cheese to your family, your friends, and yourself:
Meat and Cheese Platters
The best appetizers are often the simplest. Let your guests feast their eyes on a carefully designed platter of cheese and cold cuts. If it’s your first time to serve cold cuts and cheese, most guides recommend avoiding smelly cheeses like Stilton or Gorgonzola. Start with the soft and creamy cheeses and move on to the harder varieties. When you’re feeling more adventurous, then you can try something stronger, like blue cheeses. For the meat, you can never go wrong with the three Italian classics: Prosciutto, Mortadella, and Salami.
Fruit and Cheese Boards
Fruit and cheese can be a great alternative to the usual desserts. You don’t need to be a culinary expert to make your very own delicious combo. Just remember that sweet fruits go best with salty cheeses. Try to play with textures – think of apple slices with cheddar, and blueberries with cream cheese. Hard fruits and hard cheese have contrasting flavors while soft fruits and soft cheese tend to have flavors that can blend together.
Wine and Cheese Pairings
Variety is the spice of life – and cheese is no exception. Again, cheese shops are happy to let you try different kinds of cheese. This is the best time for you to ask what kind of wine works best with your preferred cheese. Sweet wines go with the more pungent cheeses, while dry wines go better with mild cheeses. In other words, the stronger your cheese, the sweeter your wine should be.
Combining Cheeses for Cooking
Ever tried making tomato soup? Mozzarella balls aren’t the only thing you can throw in there. Try mixing in cheddar or Gruyere for a fuller flavor. The same goes for pizza, pasta, or any other dish that goes well with cheese. Shred hard and soft varieties to play with flavor and texture. That’s the beauty of variety: you can always re-invent your meals. But be warned: always use a small portion of cheese to test the taste first.
The World (of Cheese) is Yours
The options can be overwhelming, but you can’t go wrong if you try them one at a time. Learn what cheese works best for your particular diet and palate. Wholesale cheese suppliers imported mostly from Europe. But now that American cheese enthusiasts have become more sophisticated, there has been a growing demand for artisanal and handcrafted cheese from local sources.
Wholesalers now buy direct from farms and producers, which can be great for restaurants. Restaurateurs can request for certain flavor profiles that can best complement their menu.
When you’re ready, find out about these farmsteads where you can order directly. You’re not only supporting the farming community, but also getting some of the best flavors of cheese in the world.