8.21.2009

The Perfect Cheese Plate

I am on vacation! Hooray! Luckily for you, Running Buddy Selena has graciously volunteered to Guest Blog for me on one of her favorite topics - Cheese. Who doesn't love cheese? And most importantly, who doesn't love Running Buddy Selena?
HAPPY FRIDAY, FRIENDS!
The Perfect Cheese Plate
By, Running Buddy Selena

This past Saturday I had a few girlfriends over for some grown-up, classy lady pre-gaming. (Read: appetizers and wine rather than pizza and cans of whatever beer was on sale at the grocery store.) Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love, love, love cheese and being the hostess that I am (with the mostess, obvs) I took the opportunity to knock my guests’ socks off with a cheese plate that had them all raving.

My cheese plate making wheels were set into motion earlier in the week when I received a care package from a friend who lives in New York City. She sent me about half a pound of Drunken Goat from Murray’s Cheese. This is (currently) my absolute favorite cheese in the entire world. It is a semi-soft Spanish goat cheese with a bright violet rind. The cheese is actually soaked in wine which gives it the pretty color, fun name and absolutely lovely taste. It’s creamy with a not too mild, not too strong taste. As Goldilocks would say: “It’s just right!”

With the Drunken Goat safely in my refrigerator I set out on a mission to find two more cheeses that would create the perfect dairy balance. I made my way over to Wally’s Wine and started smelling, poking, and studying my way through their small but very awesome cheese case. (Please note, if you’re not in the West LA area you can normally find a wonderful selection of specialty cheeses at Trader Joe’s, BevMo, or any middle of the road chain grocery store.) After what seemed hours I happily walked home with my arms full of cheese, wine, and a few beers thrown in for good measure.

I wanted the second cheese on the plate to be hard and brittle (in contrast with the soft texture of Drunken Goat) and I decided to go with a Gouda, Aged 4 Years. This Gouda was made in The Netherlands from cow’s milk and had a light brown color. In my opinion Gouda is a fun cheese because its taste goes from being salty to sweet as it melts away in your mouth. Each Gouda I’ve tired has its own unique flavor nuances and it’s fun to sit around and try and figure them out. This evening we all agreed that our Aged 4 Years tasted butterscotch-y.

And lastly, because no cheese plate is complete with out something at least a little stinky, I chose Royal Blue Stilton. Stilton cheeses are made exclusively in England (at only 6 farms, none the less) from cow’s milk. It is pale in color and has deep blue veins running through it. The Royal Blue has a creamy, almost buttery taste but at the same time has the very distinct tanginess that we’ve all come to love and expect from the Blues. (My mouth is actually watering as I write up this description.)

When making a cheese plate I really only follow a few rules: Always try new things, don’t let your cheeses touch each other and don’t ever, ever pre-cut. I just put my cheeses on a big serving platter with some water crackers and sliced apples, set out some knifes, pour myself a big glass of wine and enjoy watching everyone enjoying themselves.

I can guarantee this: If you get yourself to the grocery store, grab some cheese (any, it doesn’t matter which, as long as you like them or what to try them because in the end it’s really about having fun) and invite over a few friends then you too will see the magnetism and magic that is also known as The Cheese Plate. I promise.

P.S. One more rule – always clean up your cheese before going out for the night. I learned this the hard way and woke up Sunday morning to a very, very, very stinky apartment.

Photo from InMagIne Dot Com.

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