Riverside, California (NAPSI) - You’ll be happy to smile and say “cheese” the next time you’re entertaining if you can arrange a charming cheese plate an easy and impressive way to kick off an evening. Five tips can help:
1. Ask for help: Ask your cheesemonger for advice on matching up different flavor profiles and textures.
2. Mix it up: Provide a variety of cheese types (consider blue, soft-ripened, fresh, hard and local cheeses).
3. Pick pairings: Add fresh, seasonal fruit, olives, nuts, honey, dried fruit or even jam to bring out the flavor of the cheese.
4. Don’t forget drinks: The right wine can be nice but some cheeses pair better with beer. The tannins in wine can contrast with the cheese, while the effervescence of beer can enhance the cheese’s flavor.
5. Treat it well: Picking the cheese is half the battle; the other half is serving it at its best. Set it out at least 45 minutes before serving so it will be at the optimal temperature for you to taste all the subtle flavors that cheese has to offer.
All-Star Cheese Platter
These cheeses combine different textures, flavors and milk types for an impressive eating experience.
• Le Gruyère, traditionally produced inSwitzerland, is creamy, nutty and, in some cases, spicy.
• Robusto, a nutty, aged, Gouda-style cheese fromHolland.
• Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue, sweet, buttery and hand selected for Whole Foods Market.
• Hervé Mons Camembert, a classic cheese with an earthy pungency and saltiness.
• Manchego, sheep’s milk cheese with a touch of sweetness, produced inSpain.
• Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog; a layer of ash makes thisCalifornia, soft-ripened, aged goat’s cheese distinctive.
Blue Cheese Olives
2 cups large pitted green olives (about 26), patted dry
3 to 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp. chopped rosemary leaves
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Fill the cavity of each olive with cheese strips or crumbles. Place olives in a small bowl and toss with oil, rosemary and zest. Let set at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.
For more on cheese varieties and pairing information, visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com.
• Ms. Strange is global cheese buyer for Whole Foods Market.