by Patrick Evans-Hylton
June 4 is National Cheese Day – like we need an excuse to celebrate milk's grasp for greatness. We love cheese in all shapes and forms – from TASTE’s Sassy Southern Pimento Cheese spread to any of the soft or firm cut cheeses found at each TASTE location.
Laud the fromage this weekend by greeting guests with a carefully constructed cheese plate. In the spring and summer, I love to put out a nice assortment of lighter cheeses, airy crackers, sugary preserves and fresh fruit for folks to enjoy. It’s quick and easy to put together, which means you have more time for enjoying your guests and less time in food preparation (and clean up). It’s as simple as placing cheese and accouterments on a platter or cheese board; add an extra touch by lining the board with fig leaves.
Some other ideas:
- Put out light- and medium-bodied cheeses for warm weather entertaining, including chevre (goat cheese), either plain or flavored with herbs; fresh mozzarella; havarti; munster; Port Salut; gouda; camembert or brie; edam; emmental; jarlsberg; burrata; handkase; kochkase; and Saint Andre.
- Water crackers are a great, light cracker to serve along side, or get very thin sliced bread, cut each slice into one-inch squares, and toast in the oven. A number of crackers, including some delicious offerings from Firehook Bakery, are found at TASTE locations.
- Put out a foil to the savory with a nice, thick fruit preserve or chutney along side the cheese board. I like to add my homemade fig preserves, but any quality preserve or marmalade will do. Nice offerings are found throughout TASTE, including sweet/savory goodies from Virginia Chutney Company.
- Add fresh green and red grapes, slices of kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cherries along side the cheese board in colorful bowls.
- Toss a few nuts on the cheese board, too, for a variety of texture. Consider TASTE mixed nuts, almonds, cashews and peanuts.
Patrick Evans-Hylton is TASTE’s resident foodie, hosting a number of delicious events throughout the year. The Johnson & Wales-trained chef and wine and cheese expert is an award-winning food journalist, covering tasty trends since 1995 in print, broadcast and electronic media. He is publisher of Virginia Eats + Drinks Magazine; subscribe free at www.facebook.com/VirginiaEatsDrinksMag