The Cheese Plate
“Un repas sans fromage est une belle à qui manqué un œil.”
“(a meal without cheese is a beautiful woman with one eye missing)”
If you’re a lover of cheese like we are, there’s really no denying that the cheese course of a menu is by far the best part, especially in France where they have almost 400 different types of cheese to indulge in! If you’re planning to visit France in the near future, or you’re planning to host a dinner party with cheese on the menu, I encourage you to read ahead. It turns out there is a certain cheese etiquette that MUST be followed, so we had better get it right!
- Cutting the cheese for maximum flavour: There is a courteous rule to cutting cheese that results in equal distribution of the rind and the centre and NEVER changes the shape of the cheese.
- Round cheese – Slice into small triangles as though you’re slicing a piece of pie starting from the centre.
- Rectangular cheese – Start cutting from the bottom edge all the way across to the other side.
- Triangular wedge of cheese – Cut a slither starting from the crust of the cheese to the tip. (In line with the angle of the way the cheese was cut)
- Cylindrical cheese – Slice in discs as though you’re chopping a cucumber.
- NEVER cut le nez (the nose) of the cheese off otherwise you deprive others of the ripest part!
- Use the correct knife – normally the one closest to the cheese you want.
- Presenting the cheese for maximum effect: There are rules on how the cheese should be served on a platter and what it can be served with. Take note…
- Serve the cheese plate before dessert.
- 3 cheeses minimum on a platter including a soft cheese (Camembert), a hard cheese (Comté) and a goat’s cheese or Gruyère.
- Always serve with bread, specifically a chopped baguette.
- Best served with red wine.
- Serve cheeses in their full form to conserve flavour.
- Serve with separate knives for each type of cheese to avoid mixing flavours, by placing the correct knife next to the correct cheese. (This will encourage proper usage of knives).
- Eating the cheese for maximum enjoyment:
- Take small pieces of each cheese so as not to look greedy!
- Rip off a bite-size piece of bread, place the piece of cheese on the bread and bring it to your mouth.
- Don’t pick the cheese directly off your plate, use the utensils provided.
- Don’t spread the cheese, it is not a pâté!
- Try not to eat more than the 100-120grams provided for each person; otherwise you’ll be eating into someone else’s portion!
- Leave the cheese platter looking as pretty as it did when it was served.
If you can master the importance of cheese etiquette you are ready to devour a cheese platter in the presence of others and, if you’re really brave, to serve your first French cheese plate.
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