Holiday Entertaining: Cheese Platters

On a recent Real California Milk trip (with Ketchum PR, the California Milk Advisory Board and a dozen or so bloggers) I was introduced to Juliana Uruburu from the San Francisco Cheese School.  She is the most passionate cheesemonger I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.   Our group was lead downstairs to the wine cellar of Galletto Ristorante in Modesto, California where we were introduced to the most delectable California cheeses, and were educated on presenting perfect cheese pairings and platters for the upcoming holiday season.

One of the first cheeses we were introduced to was the Point Reyes Original Blue.  Juliana paired it with ginger snaps.  She called it the ‘sugar and mold’ pairing.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Another perfect pairing was the Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar served with an almond and apricot panforte.

There seemed to be a general consensus with the group that the most creamy, mouth watering cheese tasted was won hands down by the Gioia Burratta.  It was drizzled with California extra virgin olive oil, and topped with fleur de sel (sea salt) and cracked pepper.  We also added a little smoked salt over the top.  The flavor and texture was absolutely amazing.

Here are Juliana’s tips for serving perfect cheese platters for the holidays.

Serving suggestions:

1 oz. per person if it is part of a cheese course

2 oz. per person if it is part of a buffet

3 oz. per person if there is no other food



Accompaniments:

Savory: fresh produce (radishes, fresh herbs, berries or greens); cured meats (salami, prosciutto, pate, jerky); oil (extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil or hazelnut oil); nuts (pistachios, almonds, pecans, candied walnuts)

Sweet: dried fruit; home-made compotes; wine jellies; fig jam; honeycomb; panforte

Hardware: plates and platters (wood, slate, marble or leaves); knives and spreaders; cheese markers; cheese cutting tools; napkins

Holiday favorites:

Thanksgiving: Marin French Yellow Buck Camembert and butternut squash soup

Chanukah: Marin French Double Brie and honey on Matzo flatbread

Christmas: Marin French Creamy Blue with Port and warmed walnuts

New Years: Marin French Triple Creme Brie with caviar and champagne

Party themes:

Open House Holiday Gathering: perfect pairings artfully and socially set around the house; deck party

Fall Favorites: Nicasio Square, Point Reyes Toma, San Joaquin Gold

California Americana: Apple pie with Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar (crust); Cheeseburger topped with Sonoma Jack

Afternoon Tea Party: Kendall Cream Fraiche with smoked salmon sandwiches; Franklin’s Teleme and bacon TBLT’s, Bellwether Crescenza and watercress sandwiches

Be sure to visit our Forum, Milk Made: Cooking With Milk, to talk about your favorite ways to use milk and dairy products in your cooking and baking!

Trip was sponsored by CMAB, but all opinions are those of the author.

About Tonya Staab

Tonya Staab is a freelance writer and the creative mind behind Create-Celebrate-Explore, a lifestyle blog that inspires parents to craft, cook, travel, and celebrate every day with their children.

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