Every country has an affinity for a particular type of cheese and some of my fondest memories are of tasting them. On our honeymoon, Tim and I took the train from Paris to Marseille and then rented a tiny car for the picturesque journey to Provence. In the days before GPS, we relied on a map to find our way and luckily found ourselves confused and needing to stop for directions. In a tiny town we can’t remember the name of, we happened upon a goat cheese festival. The goat cheese renaissance had not yet made it to our “sea-washed, sunset gates”, but we decided to file in among the goats, the cheese peddlers, and local folk. While Tim bought a fresh baguette and found a wine vendor that poured from his cellar into two plastic cups, I looked for crowds around stalls to make my several cheese selections. With Van Gogh’s sunflowers in the distance, we ate our tangy lunch sitting on the hood of our match-boxed sized car. Twenty years later, I still cherish my husband and goat cheese.
Nota bene: One lovely hunk of cheese can also make a statement and is sometimes the perfect nibble with a single glass of wine before dinner. If you choose only one, a creamy, delicate cheese served with a handful of toasted nuts pleases nearly everyone. When preparing a larger cheese platter, take care to pair textures and boldness carefully.
CYPRESS GROVE HUMBOLDT FOG
A creamy, goat milk, California cheese with edible ash veining. Mildly acidic with a crumbly core that softens and turns creamy near the rind as it ages.
Made at the Milton Creamery in Jamestown, Missouri, this clothbound cheddar develops a dry, crumbly texture. This Old World style cheddar earned the 2013 American Cheese Society 2nd place award.
MOLTITERNO BLACK TRUFFLE PECORINO
An intriguing, earthy, Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese infused with black truffles.
ROBIOLINA FOGLIE DI FICO
A seductively sweet smelling trio of goat, cow, and sheep milk wrapped in fig leaves. A delicate, silky cheese made in the Piedmont region of Italy.
An Italian cow’s milk, straw-yellow, hard cheese named after the Piave River in Veneto, Italy. It is nutty, sweet and a perfect pairing with beer or wine.
A Piedmont region, Italian dense, creamy pasteurized cow, goat, and sheep milk cheese. This buttery, mousse textured tangy cheese must be served at room temperature.
LA MANCHA MANCHEGO
Don Quixote’s tilting at windmills in La Mancha four centuries ago immortalizes this Spanish region’s famous cheese. Traditionally made in grass baskets, this ivory-yellow, butter textured, sheep's milk cheese is traditionally served in triangles.
This is an American rendition of a Swiss classic produced in 20 lb wheels, washed in brine and remaining true to the European model. Delicious and perfect for melting, but equally satisfying alone—oniony, meaty, and pungent, with a pliable texture and lingering salty aftertaste.
BRIE DE LYON
Buttery and sweet, this spreadable French cow’s milk Brie will be the first cheese on the platter to disappear.
GOUDDEN KAAS RESERVE
A long-aged Dutch Gouda with sweet and sharp flavors and tiny textured crystals that make a mouth-pleasing crunch.
PECORINO AL TARTUFO
An Italian, raw, sheep's milk cheese encrusted with small specks of white and black truffles from the area between Volterra and San Miniato.
POINT REYES ORIGINAL BLUE CHEESE
An award winning, ultra creamy raw cow's milk cheese with streaks of bluish gray that give the cheese its Carrara marble appearance and pungent, yet subtle sweet taste.
MOLTINERO BLACK TRUFFLE PECORINO
A raw sheep's milk cheese from Sardinia infused with truffle paste is infused after Moliterno has been aged so that the cheese develops its own character before the truffles are injected. The truffles are only visible in the veins but permeate throughout cheese. During the aging process, oil and vinegar are applied to the cheese's rind to prevent weight loss.
Jambon de Bayonne
Dried figs, sliced in half
Blackberries & raspberries
Broken bits of high quality chocolate
Dinosaur or Lacinto Kale
Swiss chard leaves (rainbow)
Magnolia leaves (shiny green, brown velvety back)
Loropetalum (dark purple leaves)