You are planning a party. You may want it to be fun and educational, less expensive than a sit-down dinner.
Try a formal cheese tasting.
More and more people are discovering how delightful artisanal cheeses taste, and seem to be willing to seek them, even if they are more difficult to find and considerably ore expensive than their mass-produced versions.
By the same token cheese mongers are starting to offer highly sophisticated cheese from Quebec, and Ontario, not mention from traditional European cheese producers, like France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Germany.
If you are buying cream cheeses, look at the best before date. The best time to enjoy such cheeses is approximately 10 days before expiry.
Wrap cheeses in aluminium foil or place it in airtight container and store in the vegetable compartment in the refrigerator.
Very old, hard cheeses i.e 5 year old Cheddar or Parmigiano-Reggiano can be stores at room temperature fro a few days.
Freezing cheese causes flavour loss and should be avoided, but if you must, cut it into small pieces, wrap in aluminium foil, then store in the freezer.
Although many people say wine and cheese are pair well, beer and cheese can be as delightful, if not more interesting and challenging.
Pinot noir and red Sancerre complement a variety of cream cheeses. Semi-hard cheeses go better with flavourful red wines i.e Bordeaux, Tuscany, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and Australia. Hard cheeses call for robust wines like reserve malbecs from Argentina, shiraz from the Barossa Valley in Australia, Bordeaux blends from Margaret River, or South African pinotage, or the Rhone Valley, or California or British Columbia wines.
If you are planning to offer blue cheeses, consider late harvest or sweet wines from Ontario, southern Italy, Germany, Bordeaux (Sauternes), Australia, or California.
If you have beer-loving friends, offer wheat beers and goat cheese, or ales with cheddar or Gouda lagers go best with cream- or semi-hard cheeses.
Arrange cheeses artistically on wooden board.
Brie, Balderson 5 year old cheddar, Macarpone from Tre Stelle Dairy, Lankaster Traditional Gouda, Mild Cheddar, Black River Cheese, Aged Cheddar Black River Cheese, (the last five brands are produced in Ontario), Jarlsberg, triple cream (Quebec), Gorgonzola, Chabichou, Epoisses, may be an appropriate selection.
Serve grapes, unsalted almonds, walnuts, strawberries, apples, pears, and assortment of breads and/or cheese biscuits.
With the above, you can offer dry Riesling wines from Ontario, or British Columbia, or Alsace, or Germany, or Australia, particularly Tasmania, a cru Beaujolais (Moulin-a-Vent or Chirouble), amarone or zinfandel fro Amador County, or British Columbia.
For beer go with one ale from England, wheat beer from Belgium and lager from Germany or craft brewed Ontario beer.
A more elaborate cheese board may be of interest to discriminating cheese lovers – Cendre de Pres from Quebec, Emmenthal from Switzerland, Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy, Moliterno al Tartufo from Italy, Roquefort from France.
With the above serve green or brown figs, dates, pears, pecans, and an assortment of breads.
For wines, a 10 year old tawny port (Taylor Fladgate wines recommended), chenin blanc from the Loire Valley, sauvignon banc from New Zealand, reserve malbec wines from Mendoza in Argentina, pinot noir or cabernet franc from Ontario, Bordeaux blends from Ontario or Napa Valley in California, red classified Bordeaux wines, Bordeaux blends from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, chardonnay from Sonoma county.
For beers select a few craft – brewed lagers and ales from Ontario, a few ales from England and Scotland, and Belgium.
Your guests will have learned a lot and will thank you for it.