The cheese and charcuterie platter is the safety net to any dinner and cocktail party - if all the other foods burn while cooking, then you can still please the masses with tasty cheese and meat.
Well said, sir.
- Cabot English Clothbound Cheddar (by Jasper Hills Farm): This cheddar cheese is more complex in flavor than your average grocery store cheddar. With a slight tang, the cloth-bandaged rind and aging make this Cabot nutty and savory, with a caramel sweetness.
- Midnight Moon Gouda (by Cypress Grove): This is an aged goat milk gouda that's dense and creamy in texture. For those that only think goat cheese is that soft spreadable chevre, this will open your eyes to a whole other world of goat cheese. It has notes of brown butter, toasty nuts, and a nice, long caramel finish.
- Marisa (by Carr Valley Cheese): This semi-firm sheep's milk cheese is very smooth in texture, with a mild but complex flavor. It's slightly salty with a hint of tanginess, and it's a great introduction to those who are not familiar with sheep milk cheese.
- SarVecchio Parmesean (by Sartori Cheese): This is the best domestic parmesean cheese I've ever had, and I've not met a single person that didn't pause to savor this cheese. It's firm and crumbly in texture with tiny salt crystals that signify a high-quality Parmesan. SarVecchio has a slight fruity flavor with a roasted caramel finish.
- Delice de Bourgogne (by Fromagerie Lincet): This French triple-creme cheese is a lot like brie, but WAAAYYYY better. It's soft and spreadable, and I use it to replace the butter on my bread when posssible - it's that buttery in flavor.
- Glacier Penta Creme Blue Cheese (by Car Valley Cheese): Not all blue cheese are that stinky, funky kind your weird uncle loves so much. Made with 5 kinds of cream, this Penta Creme is crumbly and creamy in texture, with a very mild blue flavor. I thought I didn't like blue cheese, but then it all changed when I tried this one - so I recommend giving this a try too!
- Dunbarton Blue Cheese (by Roelli Cheese): If cheddar cheese and blue cheese had a baby, they'd name it Dunbarton. Roelli made this cheese by injecting the same cultures that make blue cheese into a cheddar, resulting in a distinctly English-style cheddar with hints of blue flavor.
- Il Boschetto al Tartufo (by Cooperativa Agricola IL FORTETO): This Italian semi-soft cheese combines my love of cheese and truffles into one, and for that I'm very thankful. It's made with sheep's and cow's milk for a more complex flavor, and the shave white truffles really make this cheese earthy in flavor.
- Oma (by Jasper Hills Farm): This soft cheese has a washed rind, which lends to it's pungent smell. Don't be fooled by the smell, though, because it has a really nice flavor of toasted nuts, cured meats, and cultured butter. If someone who looks for funky cheeses and likes bries, this cheese combines both of their loves into one wheel.
- Tilston Point Blue Cheese (by Hooks Cheese Company): For those who love a strong, earthy blue cheese, you'll find what you're looking for in Tilston. It's crumbly in texture, and the washed rind makes this cheese more pungent. Hello, socks and minerals!
Charcuterie Meats that Please
- Sliced Prosciutto Americano (by La Quercia): This always makes it to my party platters, no matter how many people I serve. Made from the pork leg, this meat is salted and cured for about a year, which results in a really rich, nutty flavor that's almost sweet. Slice it really thin when serving. Nothing says love and friendship more than prosciutto roses....(made by loosely rolling each prosciutto slice and letting the edges flair out - see the pic above).ProLa
- Smoked Landjaeger Sausage (by Neuske's): Nice and mild, these applewood-smoked meat sticks are made with all-natural lean pork and beef. I like to cut the sticks up into smaller pieces so people can pop them into their mouth easily.
- Milano Italian Salami (by Creminelli): Peppery and a little tart, this salami is mild and very agreeable. Have the deli department people cut this into dime-thick slices, or else it's great cut into small cubes at home.
- Spanish Chorizo (by Palacios): This is a bit different from the chorizo you find in taco joints. It's cured by hang-drying and seasoning with sweet paprika, and if this is what Spain tastes like, I may move there and never come back. I cut each link into coin-sized pieces - 5 pieces to the platter, 1 to my mouth. Palacios makes mild and spicy chorizo, and both are awesome!