One of the simplest ways to serve a crowd at a holiday party is to put together a cheese display. It's easy to arrange different cheeses on a platter and pair with an assortment of nuts, dried fruit, and charcuterie; the hard part is deciding what kind of cheese to serve! That's why I've done the work for you; this year for your holiday cheese display, I recommend a wedge of artisanal hand-crafted cheese from Wisconsin. To find out what's so great about cheese from the badger state and to see the three cheeses you must try, keep reading.
Last week I attended a class, taught by the fabulously informative cheese lady, Laura Werlin, at the Cheese School of San Francisco that highlighted the "new Wisconsin." It's the only state where you must have a special license to make cheese, thus a core group of cheese makers are producing small batches of delicious and innovative cheeses.
From rich creamy white cheddars to salty aged goudas to tangy savory blues, there was something for every palate among the 10 cheeses we tasted. However, the three listed below were standouts and the cheeses I plan on serving at my own holiday open house.
- Brick Spread by Widmer's Cheese Cellars: This addictive and affordable spread is a blend of aged brick (a cheese native to Wisconsin that resembles European wash rind cheese) and cheddar cheese. Smooth and rich, it is so scrumptious that it's referred to as "cheese crack." To let the true flavor of the cheese shine, serve at room temperature with baguette slices or plain crackers. The creaminess of the cheese pairs nicely with a sparkling wine, so offer it with bubbles.
- Marieke Aged Gouda by Holland's Family Cheese: This amazing and easy to find gouda (it's sold nationwide at Whole Foods) is made following a traditional old world method that was developed years ago in Holland. The wheels are aged for 18 to 24 months resulting in a cheese that is wildly complex with wonderful salt crystals that burst in your mouth. It's a hard cheese that would be scrumptious shaved onto salads or pasta. For the cheese display, serve with oily marcona almonds and a glass of dry Sherry.
- Black Pepper Bellavitano by Sartori Reserve: This creamy cheese tastes like a hybrid of cheddar and parmesan. The outside is an edible black pepper rind, and the inside is a mild creamy white cheese. You can find it at Trader Joe's or order a large quantity online. Offer with a fruity chutney or a glass of mild red wine with no tannins.
What's your favorite cheese for a cheese display? Share your suggestions below!