Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Cheese plate 101
Do you want to know why I don't like raw carrots? It is because they do not taste like cheese. Here's the story ... I was a wee lass of probably four or five and I remember watching "Sesame Street" and watching my beloved Ernie munch on a carrot in one of the skits. And to my little pea brain I saw "orange" which translated to "cheese" and I vaguely remember thinking that if I ate a carrot, it would likely taste like the best piece of cheese ... ever. My mom happened to be making soup that day and was chopping up carrots, so I ran into the kitchen and asked for a bite. You can imagine my disappointment.
I try raw carrots every couple years or so to see if I like them. Obviously, I don't think they should taste like cheese, but I still hate raw carrots. Love 'em cooked. Raw? Yick.
And no - my carrot story really has nothing to do with making a cheeseplate, but I just thought I'd share that story with you. Now I'll talk about cheese.
My friend Katie at Salt and Chocolate hooked me up with the cheese mongers at Ile de France who sent me a free sample of goat cheese. The free cheese had a two-fold purpose - first and foremost, I give them a shout out on my blog (and their goat cheese? Fabulous - my friend Anne even liked it and I was sure that she wouldn't because she's picky that way. Love you, Anne.) Secondly, I'm going to be entering their contest to show off who has the best cheese plate.
From my worship of Ina, I can appreciate a good looking cheese plate. A good cheese plate should have a number of choices for your guests to sample, it should also feature a combination of sweet and savory - red grapes paired with a sharp cheddar. Pears and Stilton - that sort of thing.
Here's my attempt at making a cheese plate - aside from the goat cheese and a brie that I offered as a nod to the Frenchies and their freakin' good cheese, I went with a few of my own favorites - some Irish aged cheddar, a smoked gouda, my favorite white cheddar from Target (it's $1.89 for a block ... what can I say? You don't have to spend a ton to get good cheese!) and some Amablu blue cheese from the cheese caves in Faribault, Minnesota. I also included an olive tapenade for color and variety, water crackers as a neutral palatte to pair with the various cheeses, a crusty baguette, tomatoes from my garden for color and some red grapes and dark chocolate.
I don't know if it's the prettiest cheese plate out there, but it's a step in the right direction to make these in the future.