Greetings! What a perfect time for a post about Thanksgiving and cheese, two of my most favorite things in the world. The weather is getting colder and gets us excited for cheese season....or is cheese season every season? In this post I want to walk you through how I choose the cheese for our family Thanksgiving platter. Let's get to it!
CHEESE SELECTION: I like to keep in mind that a cheese plate is probably going to be consumed by all of my guests, my 85 year grandmother as well as the toddler looking for fistfuls of goodness. The moral of the story is that you need to choose cheese that is diverse and crowd pleasing! We all want to impress but sometimes impressing means careful selection vs. just buying "the most expensive stuff".
CHEESE BALLS: I am not a big fan of flavored cheeses...unless it is a cheese ball. In my memories of growing up in the Midwest, every family function included a cheese ball. Most often it was a store-bought, strangely colored cheese ball. And it was always the first thing eaten on the appetizer platter. Nowadays, you can up your cheese ball game with a homemade version. Check out our previous post for a cheese ball recipe, Hint: You can prep it the day before. Easy. Cheesy.
BEER: Our Thanksgiving Day tradition includes football..which also means beer and cheese. Sharp cheddar and Gouda are great beer cheeses. The nuttiness and saltiness make the perfect game-time snack. Karst Cave aged is a hybrid of Gruyere and Sharp Cheddar, meaning the best of all worlds. Living in Colorado, which is a craft beer hotbed, I would not dare to suggest what beer to buy...pick something from your favorite brewery and enjoy!
WHITE WINE: My favorite white wine is White Burgundy. It has acid, sometimes a little oakiness, and nice weight to it. I like wines that have a balance and some acidity, which pairs well with turkey. Some Chardonnays (with no oak) and Chenin Blanc are also suitable. These "bigger" white wines often have a yeastiness to them, which pairs with a favorite, versatile cheese...Talleggio. You can also pick another mild,semi-soft, washed-rind cheese like Morbier or Stinking Bishop...yes that IS what it's called. HINT: These cheeses are officially classified as "the stinky ones" so you don't need much.
RED WINE: As mentioned, I am a big fan of white wine with T-Day dinner but occasionally I will dabble with the red. I really feel that Pinot Noir is the right wine with the heavy flavors on the table, particularly ones that see very little or no oak at all. Often they are a bit younger and still have a bit of acidity so they are not so overpowering. I like a harder cheese with my red wines, like a 1 year aged Gouda (Jeff's Select is our family favorite) or the aforementioned Karst Cave aged. These cheeses, with their tiny "flavor crystals" pair great with the light tannins of the wine because of the aging process.
THE KIDS: We know kids (because we have 3) and cheese is a hit or miss in our home. For those somewhat picky eater or less adventurous cheese eaters, we have the solution........Butterkase! Literally translated from German, it is called Butter Cheese. While they do not add butter to it, you could swear they do. I have never met anybody that does not like this cheese. It is soft like a Havarti, goes great with beer, wine, Irish Car Bombs (a crazy Thanksgiving tradition for us) and the kids will love it!
So there you have it. That is how I will make my cheese plate. If you, instead, dream of a cheese plate delivery service, just go to So Damn Gouda and have one delivered. We have several crowd-pleasing varieties to choose from.
Cheers! - Mike
So Damn Gouda