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Lessons in Cheese
August 2010

Teach friends, family and kids the basics of savoring fine fromage!

Cheese plays a prominent role in French cuisine and culture, supplying delicious flavors and textures for a wide variety of settings, meals and occasions. In America, eating gourmet cheese isn’t as common and many people haven’t enjoyed unique experience of savoring a fine French cheese.

Fortunately, it’s easy to spread the word to people in need of a few lessons on how to enjoy the belles complexities of French cheese. Just follow these easy tips and prepare for the cheese new comers to thank you later!

Tips for serving gourmet cheese to beginners:

Start mild – For people unfamiliar with French cheese, milder fromages are often more palatable. Ile de France Brie cheese St. Andre are creamy, mild cheeses that still pack deep flavors. Try serving either to beginners, before bringing out bolder cheese flavors like blues and goat and sheep’s cheeses.

Present pairings - Fine cheeses are often best enjoyed as part of a pairing. With beginners especially, cheeses will often taste best with accompanying fruits, breads, preserves and even nuts. Try presenting the Ile de France brie with lightly toasted slices of French baguette and strawberry preserves or honey.

Show some variety - A cheese plate is a great way for beginners to see the beautiful textures, milk type and colors of fine cheeses. For a beginner’s plate, make sure to include a blue cheese, a harder cheese, a couple different milk types (like Ile de France goat cheese and a sheep’s milk cheese such as Etorki and some simple pairings like crackers and sliced fruit.

Provide a little background – Using small info cards and little signs displayed next to each different cheese is a fun and easy way to briefly show guests the craftsmanship it takes to create the deep flavors of French fromage. A little background on the cheeses will go a long way toward people appreciating the fromage. Simply include the region the cheese comes from, the milk type it’s made from and a couple fun facts about each (which can be found on the Ile de France Cheese profile pages!).

Serve with wine – For adults, gourmet cheese often really comes alive when enjoyed along with a wine with contrasting characteristics. In general, dry, sweet wines cuts through the unfamiliar flavors and accentuates the most easily enjoyed ones. If guests are to young for wine, sparkling grape juice, cranberry juice and even some fruit flavored carbonated sodas are a great substitute. Occasions to serve cheese to beginners:

Casual gathering – Present a cheese platter filled with 3-5 cheeses, along with fruits, nuts and small slices of French bread and crackers. Cheese makes a great party appetizer as well as a snack during a movie night or while watching sports.

Dinner party – Serving a special “cheese course” is an excellent way to bring cheese into the mix, especially if cheese isn’t part of the main dishes being served. Cheese can be served on its own as an appetizer, or in a special course between the le plat principal and le dessert. Serve the fromage with fruits.

Children’s party - Children may generally favor hot dogs and pizza, but they’re never too young to begin developing an appreciation for fine cheese. Present some mild, creamy cheeses like Ile de France brie with something sweet, like honey or chocolate and the children may be requesting le brie instead of candy the next time they’re itching for a treat.