As we near the end of the year, holiday celebrations are sneaking up. A popular (not to mention delicious) cheese pairing can set yours apart from the multitude of festivities in December. Here’s a few key tips to keep in mind when organizing a platter.
Avoid pairings in which one flavor will overpower the other. A pairing in that case would lose the complexity as well as the complements of each item. Blue cheese is a good example for this. It has a sharp flavor that really stands out and its boldness needs a strong complement, such as a crisp pear or green apple. While it is a bit more subtle than blue cheese, Gorgonzola also benefits well from pairing with sweet, tart fruits.
Another tip is to use contrasting flavors. They can create a unique tasting experience and the combination of sweet and salty is a classic example. Rich and creamy Brie features an earthy flavor that pairs classically well with figs, but could also go well with warm pistachios. The nuts bring out the lushness of the cheese while the salt and crunch offer the contrast.
Also take advantage of seasonal produce. The first thing that comes to mind when we think cheese pairing is wine, but produce can bless the palette with a host of delicious pairings and complex flavors.
Clementines are a good match for Hispanic style cheeses such as Queso Fresco or Cotija. This fruit has an acidity that will help offset the creamy texture of Queso Fresco and a sweetness that will contrast the saltiness of Cotija. Another possible combo is between Fontina cheese, with a mild, nutty flavor, and the quince fruit. This pairing creates both a sweet and savory profile that will be sure to delight.
A natural craving can help with pairings as well. Your taste buds know what they want, and a craving can often steer you in the right direction. A final thing to remember, is that there are no firm rules to pairing. These tips will help get you in the right direction, but don’t be afraid to experiment and taste for yourself!