Party Profile: The Cheese Party
Forget serving cheese as a simple hors d’oeuvres – this culinary delight makes an exquisite entrée at any party. Read on for ideas and tips on how to make your cheese party a crowd pleaser.
For the perfect cheesy invite, cut yellow card stock into a triangular shape. Using a hole punch, make several holes in the slice of cheese, so it resembles Swiss cheese. A cheese party is perfect at cocktail hour or later.
Keep the décor simple, yet elegant, taking inspiration from a European vineyard. You’ll want the wine and cheese to be the highlight, so use white linen on the tables and accent with red, burgundy, green (use dried grape vines and a variety of washed grapes as a centerpiece) and silver or gold (think napkins, napkin rings, wine glass charms and coasters). If you live in a home with several rooms available for the party, decorate each room with by theme (France, Italy, England) and serve corresponding wine and cheese in each area. Label each cheese with a ceramic or metallic label, or to improvise, use “Hello my Name is” stickers (stick two together on either side of a toothpick). If you’re serving a variety of cheese from various countries, try a miniature toothpick flag for each cheese’s origin and handwrite the name of the cheese on the flag.
Match your music to your menu by playing music from the countries of the cheese you select. For inspiration, try these:
French: Serge Gainsbourg, Air, St. Germain-des-pres-Café collection, Amelie soundtrack
British: Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, KT Tunstall, James Blunt, Kate Bush
Italian: Andrea Bocelli, theme from Life is Beautiful, La Dolce Vita soundtrack, Il Postino soundtrack
Canadian: Sarah McLachlan, Sarah Harmer, Daniel Powter, Chantal Kreviazuk, Ron Sexsmith, David Usher, Shania Twain, Our Lady Peace, Melissa O’Neil, Barenaked Ladies or Sloan
Cheese plate: A gourmet cheese plate will impress guests and let them mingle as they try a variety of cheeses (set each cheese at a different table or room). Select five types of cheeses – and just adjust the quanity of each depending on the number of guests. Try to choose at least one type of cheese from each category (ripe, semi-soft, semi-hard, hard, blue) and type (cow, sheep, goat).
Tip: Let cheese sit at room temperature at least an hour before serving (unwrap from plastic or paper first) and serve cheese whole, allowing guests to cut their own piece.
Beverages: For a sensational experience, pair each cheese with a complementary wine. For example, match soft cheese with champagne or white wine, blue cheese with port, hard cheese with fuller-bodied reds.
Tip: the more pungent the cheese, the sweeter the wine should be. Try to match the region of cheese with a similar wine (ie Italian Amarone with Parmigiano-Reggiano or an Ontario wine with Thunder Bay’s Thunder Oak, an artisanal gouda).
For a non-alcoholic option, serve apple cider or low-acidity tea (avoid fruit teas), both of which can be served hot or chilled.
Cheese fondue: In addition to the cheese plate, set out a cheese fondue [link to Foodtv.ca recipe] using a medium-sharp cheese (such as English cheddar). Arrange fondue spears or long wooden spears to dip artisanal bread, crudités (pickles, baby carrots, mushrooms, picked cauliflower), cubed ham and fingerling potatoes.
Cheesecake makes a thematic end to a savoury meal by adding a touch of sweet. Try Mocha Cheesecake [link to Foodtv.ca recipe] or Philadelphia Lemon Bumbleberry Cheesecake [link to Foodtv.ca recipe] for a twist on the traditional, or, to give guests variety, make miniature cheesecakes (in mini muffin pans), and set out bowls of toppings (blueberry, strawberry and cherry sauces) for guests to create their own concoctions.
To get guests in the spirit of all things cheesy, test your guests knowledge by not labeling the cheese and having them guess the variety or each, or make a playlist on your iPod of cheesy 90s musicians (Kenny G, anyone?) and have guests guess the artist.
Tie pretty fabric ribbons in a variety of wine-and-cheese inspired colours (think merlot, silver, gold, dark green) around an assortment ornate cheese knives and place them in a wire basket so each guest can help themselves to one when they leave.