How to Select the Right Cheese for Entertaining
Cheese is the ultimate entertaining food – of course, it is loved by so many! And the Hunter Valley is renowned for its locally-produced cheeses of superior quality. But, with so many varieties to choose from, just how do you select the perfect Hunter Valley cheese? And how do you serve it to most impress your guests? Let’s break it down:
Keep it simple
You know, the beauty of choosing cheese for entertaining is that you don’t have to go all out with a huge selection. Before you get too carried away, we wanted to start out by letting you know that sometimes the simpler you keep it, the better. Up to three excellent cheeses are all you need to make an impact. In fact, this is the traditional French way of serving cheese – odd numbers are considered most visually appealing.
Even just one cheese can be enough depending on the accompaniments on offer and the number of guests. And the beauty of one well-made cheese is that you can easily provide the perfect wine to match!
The perfect amount of cheese
That brings us to how much cheese you will need for each guest:
Just serving cheese at your soiree? Then you can allow 90-120g per person.
Having an antipasto course with more food to follow? 50g per person is more than enough.
Choosing cheese varieties to create a well-rounded platter
For a well-balanced Hunter Valley cheese trio, it’s a good idea to include one soft cheese, one semi-hard cheese as well as a hard cheese. If you don’t know the preferences of your guests, it’s generous to offer cheeses that range from mild to strong so that you may please everyone by catering to different tastes. Also, think about choosing cheeses from a variety of milk sources to keep things interesting.
Here are a few options you could consider:
- Soft: Brie, Goat’s Cheese
- Semi-Hard: Manchego, Smoked Mozzarella
- Hard: Gruyere, Parmesan or Vintage Cheddar
- Bonus points for adding a Blue: Danish Blue, Stilton, Gorgonzola
A variety of colours, sizes, textures and shapes will also make for a more stunning display on your cheese board, rather than choosing cheeses that look similar.
Looking for a safe bet? A Hunter Valley cheese like vintage cheddar always makes for a popular choice. It also pairs well with most accompaniments, making it a great option if you’ve never put together an entertaining platter before.
You might be able to get by with what’s on offer at your local supermarket. However, a truly amazing cheese platter can only be created after a visit to a cheese specialist – just like our local artisans offering spectacular Hunter Valley cheeses.
Cheese serving tips
When you arrange your cheese on your platter or cheese board, ensure that each cheese has its own place and doesn’t touch the others. You see, stronger flavour profiles can interfere with milder varieties. Another classic French rule of thumb is to place cheeses in a clockwise direction, from the mildest to the strongest, to make it easy for guests to remember.
Cheese has the most flavour when served at room temperature. To ensure you serve it just so, remove it from the fridge and unwrap it up to one hour before you serve it. Place it on the board and store in a cool place, covered with a damp napkin. In warmer weather it shouldn’t be removed from the fridge quite as early.
Choosing the accompaniments
Group the appropriate accompaniments next to each cheese to make it easy for your guests to have the best-tasting experience possible. Some classic choices that won’t overcomplicate things are quince paste, grapes, figs or ripened pears. You could also consider nuts, olives, blueberries and some slices of prosciutto.
Keep in mind that accompaniments should also be planned around whether you are serving before dinner, or after, as well as the weather. It’s natural that fruits are a better choice for warmer seasons, while preserves and olives are better suited to winter.
Keep dry fare like crackers, biscuits or breads on a separate board.
Need some more guidance?
The Two Fat Blokes offers expert help in a variety of fun-filled ways.
Ask the Two Fat Blokes deli team
Visit the delicatessen for some fantastic ideas on the best Hunter Valley cheeses for your occasion. They can also help you understand how to pair your chosen cheese with the finest Hunter Valley gourmet accompaniments.
Learn more about cheese in a tasting tour
A cheese tasting in the Hunter Valley is the perfect way to learn more about the different varieties of cheese and give you a foundation for planning your next cheese board. Two Fat Blokes offer several different tours that incorporate cheese tastings in the Hunter Valley, like the popular Hunter Gatherer’s Full Day Tour.
Join the Cheese Club
The Cheese Club is the all-new way to learn about cheese from the comfort of your own home. You can rely on the Two Fat Blokes to send you the very best selection of three cheeses each month, along with up-to-the-minute cheese news and a hotline to the very mongers who selected your cheeses. Why not leave it in the hands of the experts?
So, what are you waiting for? Pop over and check out the deets on the Two Fat Blokes Hunter Valley Cheese Club today!