Cheese Tasting Party
A cheese tasting party is a great spur of the moment idea. Especially if you want to have people over, but you are intimidated on preparing and cooking a full meal. Just make sure you let them know this is not a dinner party, so they don’t come starving.
The only thing you have to do is shop and put it on the table! Most diy goddesses love to shop (I do occasionally, only at book stores, antique stores and cooking stores), so it is not a chore at all. No skills needed, except maybe when to turn away from the cash register.
This gives you the opportunity to relax before and during the party, because you won’t be stuck in the kitchen for hours on end. You will be allowed to be the diy home goddess hostess that I know you all are. It will be a fun time, you will be able to enjoy stimulating conversation, and if the food sucks, it’s not your fault. You didn’t cook a dang thing!
If you follow these simple instructions, everyone will know you are the goddess you already know you are.
- 5 different Cheeses (about 1-2 ounces of each flavor per person)
- 5 different Cheese knives (you don’t want to blend the flavors together by using the same knife)
- 1-2 cheese boards or just use a large platter or two!
- Sliced baguettes and crackers (not the wimpy saltines, get substantial crackers)
- Toasted nuts – Almonds and walnuts probably work the best
- Dried fruit – May I suggest figs and nectarines?
- A jar of chutney – apple or cranberry pairs well
- Pinot Noir wine (room temperature)
- Chardonnay (chilled please)
- Water for those not drinking alcohol, and to cleanse the palate as well
To Do List
You will want to take the cheese out about an hour before the party so it will come to room temperature. Cheese should always be served at room temperature.
Chill the white wine, of course, but leave the red at room temperature and open it to let it breathe.
You might want to write the name of each cheese on an index card, maybe with a few notes on the flavor, country of origin, or what it is usually paired with. There are wonderful websites, such as Glen Echo Fine Foods, and Ile De France, which discuss the basics of cheese and pairing ideas. Both of them I highly recommend. This will also make you look like an expert!
You want to have a different knife for each cheese, so the flavors don’t get muddled up. If you have a cheese knife set, go for it. I can’t believe they have different knives for different types of cheese, but they do. I really know what the differences are. Not! But if you don’t have a fancy knife set, don’t worry your gorgeous head about it. You can use just regular dinner or butter knives for most of the cheeses. Or, if needed, that brand new paring knife you just bought.
Cut a slice or two of each cheese, so it looks like the party has already started. Most people might be afraid to take the first slice, so if you do one or two slices before hand, people will feel free to jump in.
The order on the table from left to right should be:
- Plates to eat on
- Cheese board or platters with cheese
- Breads on another platter
- Accompaniments in small bowls with serving utensils
Some people say you should spread the cheese around the room so the guests aren’t clumped together. The problem with this idea IMHO is that you don’t get the full experience that way.
What am I talking about? I know you are asking yourself that question. Allegedly, you should be eating the cheeses in a specific order, from most mild to most flavorful. Huh? What am I talking about? Didn’t you just ask me that question?
What I mean is for you to taste the cheeses properly, without overwhelming you, they should be eaten in order (on the platter from left to right or in circle with the first one at 12:00):
- Fresh cheese
- Soft cheese
- Medium cheese
- Hard cheese
- Blue cheese
Okay, you kind of get that, but you want examples, right? So do I! Since the majority of diy home goddesses where I am from are the most familiar with American or English cheeses, here comes the plate.
- Fresh – Cream cheese
- Soft – Colby
- Medium – Monterey Jack
- Hard – Marbled Cheddar
- Blue – Stilton
That is how the cheese should be experienced. You can do American cheeses. You can do another country, such as France, Italy, the Netherlands. You don’t have to stick with one country. You can do a different country for each stage of cheese, but I think it would be fun to experience the country in full. Especially if you can get wines from that country as well.
The Glen Echo Fine Foods website has a huge cheese glossary, discussing the major varieties, their origin, a description of the taste, fat content, and what level of hardness they are. Although I am not sure about some of their descriptions. I saw one that described a cheese as having a gluey taste! I don’t think I would want to try that after reading that description, but it could be totally yummy!
If you want to plan in advance, create a cute invitation. Maybe in the shape of a cheese chunk, or a wine bottle? Tell them what to expect, what they will experience. Decorate with some silk flowers, have the lights at normal (not bright, but no candlelight either), and have a cute decoration or two. Maybe the flag theme. Or a cow statue or two? A bowl of fresh apples, grapes and oranges. It is supposed to be a decoration, but if people grab from it, don’t sweat it. What about some cute napkins? Maybe have some small notebooks and those tiny pencils, so people can make notes on cheeses they like and want to try. Or you could write down other ideas of cheeses to try as the night goes on and conversations take control.
The possibilities are endless for a cheese tasting party. You will be the talk of all your friends the next day, they will be so impressed with what you pulled together without cooking a single thing. I guarantee it!
Next, let’s work on a Chocolate Tasting Party!