Here we are in the home stretch of another jolly holiday season! And while some dread those final steps into the New Year, others are just ready to party. Either way, I have the answer to revitalize your zest for celebration. It’s nearly the turn of the fricking decade, so I think it’s time to bring in 2020 the way it deserves. That’s right y’all, I’m talking about a cheese party.
A cheese spread is more than a sexy snack. It’s an ice-breaking centerpiece that has the power to transform those awkward moments before people have settled with a glass of something into a chorus of jovial squeals and moans. Whether you are hosting the party or crashing it, if you bring the cheese you will be everyone’s hero.
Here’s how to make any party a cheese party, with the help of some sudsy libations.
Encourage people to bring their favorite beer and cider.
There’s nothing more romantic than a wedge of cheese next to a glowing glass of red wine, but in reality those two rarely get along. Because of their effervescence and oftentimes less aggressive flavor profiles, beer and cider are way easier and more versatile. If you stick to these two bevies, you can play with a ton of different pairings with a high success rate.
Remember the rules of pairing
When pairing anything, I always try to balance intensity. Then, I look for compliments and contrasts. Here are some of my perfect pairs:
Fresh cheese like ricotta with light-bodied pilsners
Bloomy rind cheeses like brie with funky ciders
Stinky cheeses like Époisses with thick Belgian ales
Alpine-style cheeses like Gruyère with malty Christmas ales
Firm sheep’s milk cheeses like Pecorino with nutty brown ales
Punchy blue queens like Stilton with dark stouts
There’s nothing more romantic than a wedge of cheese next to a glowing glass of red wine, but in reality those two rarely get along.”
Get a couple fancy showstopper cheeses, then fill in the rest with basics
Good cheese is expensive, and it’s worth every damn penny, but when you’re feeding fromage to a lot of people, things can get crazy quick. Splurge on two or three special cheeses, either from a cheese shop or other specialty store, then get a couple price-friendly options at a grocery store like Trader Joe’s or Costco. Goat cheese, aged cheddar, and gouda are affordable and delicious choices, especially when you have some dank accompaniments. Speaking of...
Get some snacky accompaniments to pair with everything
People always get so worried about what pairs with what, so supply snacks that pair easily with a variety of cheeses. My favorite old reliables are roasted nuts, local honey, grapes, olives, dried or jammed figs, prosciutto, dark chocolate-covered pretzels, and even popcorn. Definitely put out some water crackers, too. They’re affordable and won’t overpower the cheese.
Cut the cheese just before people arrive
Avoid the dreaded empty brie rind! Cut your cheese up less than an hour before show time so it’s still fresh but stays neat throughout the evening. In case you are confused about how to cut cheese—geometry is hard—here’s some tips:
For a round wheel: cut it in half, then slice into wedges like a pie.
For a triangular wedge: slice off the top and bottom rind, then cut into thin triangles.
For hard cheese and blues: use a knifepoint to crumble into snackable chunks.
Just make sure every cheese has a knife, even if it’s already cut. Someone is going to want to be dainty and cut a slice in half, and lord save us all if they use a blue cheese-caked knife to slice a mild brie. Pretty soon all the cheeses are going to taste the same like some fromage orgy that went wrong.
Why do you like stanky cheese? That’s because they smell like sex!”
Preach some cheese facts throughout the night.
Everyone loves a curd nerd. Work these into your dialogue for the night and you’ll change lives.
Eat the rind! Cheese rinds are edible, as long as there isn’t wax on the outside. The ones on brie can have some mad flavor action, so don’t you go and sleep on that sexy piece.
Aged cheeses are basically lactose-free! The process of cheese-making converts lactose, milk sugar, into lactic acid, which is way easier to digest.
Why do you like stanky cheese? That’s because they smell like sex! Brevibacterium linens (call her b.linens) is the bacteria in both human sweat and the washed rind family of cheeses, which includes almost anything with reddish-orange rinds, like Taleggio.
Room temperature cheese tastes better. If there is a ripe brie on the cheese plate, slice off a piece, and demonstrate how it nearly slides out of its rind.
Plastic wrap literally suffocates cheese. Cheese is alive and breathing, and plastic wrap cuts off the oxygen supply. Better to wrap it snugly in parchment paper, then nestle her gently into a sealable bag that has a little air left in it.
There you have it: everything you need to turn any party into a cheese banger. I will leave you with this one last fact. Just in case you are planning any sort of cleanse this January, please know that cheese is an exceptional source of protein, calcium, omega-3 fats, and Vitamins D, E, and B12. It’s good for your heart, can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and is associated with a faster metabolism and longer lifespan. It also makes vegetables taste like works of God. Don’t deprive of yourself in this new decade, OK?