Monday, March 23, 2009

Creating a Perfect French Cheese Tasting Plate

If one place could be christened “the Land of Cheese,” it would surely be France! Gourmet fromage is a grand tradition here, and practically every region has its own influence on the types and tastes of the world’s best cheeses. A great way to bring this refined dairy delight home is with a cheese plate, a delicate arrangement of cheeses perfectly tailored to your meal. There’s one for practically every occasion! Did you know cheese can be healthy, too? You can discover more secrets of French cheese here, but remember: the best way to taste these iconic delicacies is at their source in France!

The Fromage Plate is a celebration of the remarkable diversity of French cheeses—a cheese plate made with the Cheeses of France captures the abundant variety of flavors, textures, colors and aromas that characterize the “taste of place,” or terroir, unique to each region.

How to Create the Perfect French Cheese Plate
Whether you are planning an hors d’oeuvres party, a wine and cheese menu or after-dinner tasting, it’s easy to create a delectable and beautiful Fromage Plate when you follow these simple tips:

  • It’s about quality not quantity — your Fromage Plate should showcase anywhere from 3 to 5 cheeses.
  • Plan on 4 to 6 ounces of cheese per person.
  • Choose a variety of cheese styles, from creamy soft to hard, and milk types, from goat to sheep to cow’s milk-based cheeses.
  • For peak freshness and flavor, shop for cheese close to your event.
  • Ask the experts for help...your local fromager can suggest complementary flavors and textures to create a harmonious cheese platter.
  • Bring cheese to room temperature before serving (approx. 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size).
  • Arrange cheeses in a clockwise fashion from mildest to most pungent and complex.
  • Experiment with different shapes for a stunning visual presentation.
  • For the best fromage plate sampling experience start with the mildest cheese at 6 o’clock and continue around the cheeseboard.
Pairing with Food
  • Slice apples or pears into thin wedges and arrange with selected cheeses.
  • Include figs, blackberries, golden raisins and dried apricots for a sweet, exotic complement.
  • Add a healthy crunch with a variety of nuts.
  • Go gourmet with quince paste, plum butter or chutney on the side.
  • Drizzle a little honey on pungent cheeses for a dash of sweetness.
  • Offer toast points, fruit and nut crostini or thin slices from a baguette.
  • Remember, the cheese is the star. If serving crackers, select mild styles that won’t compete with the cheese.
Pairing with Wine...and More!
  • French wines, both red and white, from the same region as your cheeses are a natural choice. Ask your sommelier or wine merchant for pairing suggestions.
  • In general, pair a mild cheese with a lighter, milder wine and a more robust, stronger cheese with a bolder wine.
  • Beer, cider...even coffee and liqueurs also complement The Cheeses of France.

Signature Fromage Plates from maître fromager Max McCalman, author of The Cheese Plate
Max McCalman is one of the world’s foremost experts on cheese. He is the author of The Cheese Plate, the definitive book on the art of creating the perfect cheese course, and a James Beard winner. Max is also the Dean of Curriculum at Artisanal Premium Cheese and the maître fromager, (or cheese master) at the acclaimed restaurants Picholine and Artisanal in New York City.

Max has created a huge variety of cheese courses, exclusively designed around The Cheeses of France, for nearly every occasion throughout the year -- including holidays and special events, as well as those times you just want some good cheese. Click here for all of Max's signature Cheese Course recommendations and explore the flavors of France through French cheese.


sutros said...

The inspiration:

“Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.” Pierre Androuet.

The challenge:

GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”


This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

A unique and amusing Christmas present for all food lovers


karenforbes0326 said...

I really love cheese! Adding cheese in a certain recipe really makes so delicious and tasty! Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium...which good for the body! Try also visiting . They have lots of exciting and interesting cheese recipes for you to choose from!

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