Get funky this entertaining season by putting together an expert cheese pairing for friends. Armed with a proper cheese knife and a little bit of knowledge, it’s just as easy to impress epicurean guests as it is to soothe those with picky palates.
Chris Kohtz first wrote a blog devoted to cheese before opening his popular Stillwater shop Wedge & Wheel. He had several suggestions for varieties to serve alongside a fermented beverage that’s having a bit of a moment: cider as well as wine.
Soft and creamy, light and dreamy: the best way to begin a cheese plate is with a wedge of Blue Earth brie from Alemar Cheese who also make the luscious Bent River camembert. This larger wheel takes longer to ripen, but the result is a heavenly hunk of buttery cheese. This cheese is best sliced with a GRAND PRIX II 5” Cheese knife. Kohtz suggests pairing with Northern Spy from Sweetland Orchard. “The bubbles scrub the palate.” Or, pair it with a crisp, pretty white wine like a Pinot Gris or a Soave.
Guests will love slightly salty, semi-firm Friesago from Shepherd’s Way which also pairs beautifully with the Northern Spy. The mellow, lanolin aftertaste balances the touch of apple tartness. Our 2.75-inch Parmesan Cheese Knife slices this cheese smoothly and easily.
Moving into a more challenging territory, Kohtz suggests Grayson from Meadow Creek Dairy. “It can be a foul, funky thing. With the washed rind, you want to go the white wine route or a fruity hard cider.” The GRAND PRIX II 5” blade also makes tidy work of this rind wrapped, soft textured cheese. A light Moscato would make an ideal pairing as would the Scrumpy Sweet Cider.
Moving into blue, Kohtz is a fan of Rogue River’s variety for its ability to convert non-blue lovers. “To soften the blue, add a little honey. It softens the sting and salt, but leaves the good barnyard flavors: warm grass, compost and a pleasant sheepiness.” Glide the 4.5-inch Offset Cheese Knife through this variety for easiest service. This blue pairs well with Sweetland Orchard’s Scrumpy Gold, which also has a funky nose. The cider is also less tannic and tannins will kill a blue cheese flavor. You don’t serve a super tannic, red with a blue cheese.