The Midlife FoodieI love real, whole food, the stories about it, the people who produce it, the places it comes from and the way it brings people together. I am a food writer and educator (I also do copywriting on the side), I mother three millennials, I practice yoga and meditation, and, yes, cook a lot.
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Bobolink cheeses - yum
Holiday gathering season seems to get longer every year, now spilling over to January.
But Holiday food doesn't always carry over so well. Post-Holiday gatherings are best accompanied by upscale nibbles, such good cheese, and good wine.
Assembling an artisanal cheese plate is more complicated than slapping together some nameless cheeses from the grocery store. Think Manolo Blahniks as opposed to Payless Shoes. But with one notable difference - artisanal cheeses are affordable and edible.
Follow these steps:
First, find cheeses that have a story. A real cheese is the convergence of tradition, history, landscape, and a human story. So buy your cheeses from sellers who care. In our area, that entails artisanal food stores like Olsson's Fine Foods in Palmer Square, or Brick Farm Market in Hopewell. Or local dairy farms like Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse.
Once you got to the right place, there are some rules to follow.
1. Go for variety with some unified principle. Get cheeses with different flavor profiles and textures for variety. Then find something that unifies them. Be it the country of origin, kind of milk, an individual farm. The latter is optional but creates a more harmonious cheese experience.
2. Tell the story. Chat with your cheesemonger (or with Google), get to know where your cheeses are coming from and how they are made. You will often find cool stories to go with (maybe the most famous of all is that of the Roquefort. Google it!) Make little signs for each cheese that describe the cheeses provenance, type of milk, age, and little tidbits you've found.
3. Now it is time to set up the cheese plate, and there are many ways to do this. I asked Nina and Jonathan White of Bobolink, who make incredible cheeses for tips. Being cheesemakers who also grow the cows, they started from the very beginning. But you can jump to step four ;)
4. Tips from Nina and John White at their farm, Bobolink Dairy.
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