May 2003 Edition
Reinventing the Cheese Wheel

One of the most exciting things to cross the Atlantic since Charles Lindbergh is landing on the plates of Canadian patrons from coast to coast. Cheese courses have quickly become the hottest European export - and not just in trend setting cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. All over the country, cheese courses are proving to be a simple and sophisticated way of providing patrons with a worldly alternative to traditional appetizers and desserts.

Easily prepared cheese courses serve as a showcase for domestic and imported specialty and artisanal cheeses. Whether you want to pre-plate your selections or add flair with a tableside presentation, there are endless ways to tempt taste buds with the aroma and intense flavours a cheese course offers.

Please beginner cheese lovers with a 'flight' of cheddars - a selection aged from a few months to a few years - just the right touch for an apprentice palate. Pull out all the stops for more adventuresome customers by starting with a mild-flavoured Brie and ending with a heady, piquant Gorgonzola. Inspire with cheese courses that highlight a particular variety of cheese - like a soft and creamy Mascarpone complemented by a hard, sharp Pepato - and have your guests proclaiming 'amore!' for a presentation of Italian style cheeses.

Give tasty access to a range of blue-veined cheeses that will wow with rich, creamy flavours. Add an assortment of refreshing fruits, crunchy nuts or thinly sliced prosciutto to any cheese course for an instant infusion of contrasting flavours and textures.

Blend enlightenment with enjoyment by offering a service staff well versed in the origins and flavours of featured cheeses. And encourage guests to find their own signature cheese by sampling a diversity of tastes and textures that will have them discovering a truly delectable experience, one that won’t be soon forgotten.

Whatever method to your cheese madness, this cross Atlantic table blazer will have your customers turning a sizzling new trend into their favourite treat. Why? It's the cheese, of course! ยจ

Thanks for the Complement!

While a palate-pleasing cheese course can certainly stand on its own, you can make it extra delectable for your guests with thoughtfully chosen accompaniments. Enhancing the rich flavours and textures of the cheeses is the goal, so complements should be selected with this in mind. For inspiration, check out these tasty choices that will harmonize with a variety of cheeses:

  • Try crusty artisanal breads - simple French baguettes paired with soft, mild cheeses or earthy walnut or whole-grain breads paired with more assertive cheeses.
  • Slices of honeydew melon, apples, pears and whole grapes will balance strong cheeses with their sweet, refreshing taste.
  • For a nutty alternative, arrange your cheese platters with toasted almonds, walnuts and pecans.
  • Provide a selection of marinated or stuffed olives that will add a Mediterranean flair to your cheese course.

No matter the choice of complements, your guests will be left complimenting you on a cheese course well served.

Cheese Course How To's

  1. To begin, select between 3-5 cheeses for your cheese course.

    You may pre-select a cheese course or allow your customers to choose from a cheese menu to create their own cheese course. Typically each cheese portion is approximately one ounce (30g)

    2. Work around a theme

    Plan around a theme, for example all goat cheeses, or all cheeses from one country such as France, or Italy.

  2. Aim for Variety

    Vary texture of your cheese course - from moist and runny cheese to hard and crumbly. Choose cheeses with different appearances and colours.

  3. Suggest Wine as an Accompaniment

Suggest wines that work well with your cheese course - aged cheddars pair well with Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon, while fresh cheese like goat or feta go well with Pinot Noir. Blue cheeses go well with dessert wines like Saternes and Port.

  1. Service with Style

    The cheese platter should be arranged to ensure that cheeses do not touch one another and each cheese should ideally have its own knife. Serve at room temperature and leave the rind on the cheese.

  2. Educate your customer

Describe the flavours of the cheeses on the menu, and have waitstaff provide a spoken description of the cheeses. Ensure that patrons are aware of the cheese course and suggest it as a starter or as a substitute for dessert. Encourage patrons to eat cheeses in order from mildest to strongest, so that the palate is not numbed by the more pungent cheese, before tasting a milder cheese.