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Deck the Holidays Cheese Board



Cheese board shown, from the left: – Pepper-Cot Jam – Fruit and Nut Crisps – Real California Cream Cheese or Farmer’s Cheese with Pepper-Cot Jam – Whole Wheat Crackers.
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A savory cheese course can be a great way to start or end a meal. Presented as an appetizer or first course, these cheese courses simply and elegantly pair a single cheese with another food providing complementary or contrasting flavors. Many cheeses go wonderfully with such savories as roasted or pickled vegetables, fresh herbs or spices, flavored oils or vinegars and spicy olives or seasoned nuts.

A cheese course is not something that should be served cold. Allow aged cheese to come to room temperature.

For a large piece, it typically takes an hour or two for the full flavor of the cheese to develop. (However. fresh cheeses should be treated like milk, so don't allow them to sit out for more than a short time.)

Most experts suggest you wait until shortly before serving to slice the cheese so it does not dry out. (An alternative is to slice the cheese several hours early. but cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until an hour before serving.)

Estimate one to one-and-a-half ounces of each cheese per person. If serving three or more cheeses, you might decrease the amount to an ounce or less per person. Cheese courses typically contain just small amounts that provide a satisfying combination of flavors once one's hunger has been satisfied by the meal.

Simple additions such as olives, nuts or fruit can enhance a cheese course. Plan savory or spicy accompaniments for a starter course and sweeter accompaniments for end-of-meal.

For more contrast in both flavor and texture, serve a flavorful artisan bread, thinly sliced and cut into small pieces. For example, a bread containing raisins or dates. and perhaps nuts. Serve it plain or toasted.

A small glass of dessert or fortified wine can be a perfect complement to an end-of-meal cheese course. Consider a late Harvest Riesling, Port or sweet Sherry.