Charcuterie #1 : The Gouda Twins
Total Time: 1 hour letting cheese come to room temperature, plus however long it takes to lay it all out, let’s say 30 minutes
Skill Level: Easy Peasy. Budget: $$. Serves: 4-8
Components and How to:
The general rules:
1. You have a cheese limit:3-4 (and sometimes 5 for a bigger crowd) cheeses max – its overwhelming to have more on one board because too many flavors = muddled flavors. Also, if I am going to do a bigger crowd I still stick to 4 and get larger amounts of those 4 cheeses. Also, you need to let your cheeses come to room temp for a minimum of 1 hour before serving.
2. Plan to pair: do a little researching and pick items that pair well with the cheese you plan to feature. Brie, white cheddar and fontina do not go with red wine or most nuts. There are websites and books out there that will help you do this well. Pairings can include fruits, meats, condiment items like mustards honeys, and jams and dry food items like nuts and dehydrated fruit and bread items cracker or loaf. You can also pair with wine, but if you’re going light on the research white wine is safer.
3. Plate to punctuate. You can have a good selections of foods, but if you throw them together people might not try the perfectly paired cheddar with the dried pineapple you selected. In the photo above I’ve made it quite clear that you are supposed to try the items on each plate with that cheese, but you can use whatever cracker you like. Also, in the photo the cheeses are arranged by their hardness so there is a flow for figuring out what you have before you.
A hard cheese: on the right this is 1 year aged Reypenaer* Gouda, it has a chalky greyish blue rind and crystallization. (Cheeses crystalizes when lactose (dairy sugar) is broken down in the aging process into lactic acid. The lactic acid binds with calcium creating calcium lactate a crystalized crunchy goodness only to be found in aged cheeses).
A semi-hard cheese: in the middle an English white cheddar. (Cheddar cheese in only yellow because annatto- a natural yellow coloring – is added to the white cheddar).
One or two wild card cheeses: on the left is a young (technically semi-hard) Gouda cheese. Here you could do anything, but I’ve linked some of my favorites: brie, camembert, bleu cheese, a bleu cheese cheddar mixture if bleu cheese is generally too strong, goat cheese, münster, extra sharp cheddar, baby swiss, edam whatever you want.
Normally I do a cracker assortment and think nothing of the carb portion. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it looks good. The other pairings need a bit more thought.
With the aged Gouda we have pistachios and black currant jam.
With the white cheddar we have dried pineapple (which was my favorite of this tasting), walnuts and red pepper jam.
With the young Gouda we have dried apricots and honey pineapple mustard.
*Reypenaer Aged Gouda is my all time favorite cheese.