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At Garden of Eating, we are dedicated to providing all of our clients with fresh, flavorful meals, beautifully and professionally presented for every event we cater. We pride ourselves in listening to our clients’ specific requests and designing a menu that reflects their needs.

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Planning a Great Party: Cheese Tasting

Hi folks! Welcome to the first of our posts on planning parties for your home. We’re going to tackle different themes and ideas, including wine tastings, olive oil tastings, beer tastings, Spanish tapas night, among others! First, we wanted to bring you our input on the classic Cheese Tasting.

A few common questions we hear are, 1. How much cheese do I buy? and 2. What kinds of cheese should I buy?

For the amount of cheese, it depends on the type of party. If your cheese platter is the main dish for the evening, then plan on 3 pounds for 8 people, 6 pounds of 16 people, or 9 pounds for 24. If other items are on the menu, like bruschetta, fruit, desserts, or meatballs, go for 2-4 ounces per person. If you’re planning to have a full dinner either before or after cheeses are served, you can go even lower.

For types of cheeses, we recommend going for 5-6 varieties. Try for something aged (an aged gouda or aged cheddar), something soft (St. Andre, or any creamy brie), something firm (think parmesan, manchego, or mimolette), and something blue (Humbolt Fog, Valdeon, stilton). If you’re hosting cheese newbies, also include something familiar. New Zealand white cheddar, smoked gouda, mozzarella are all great options.

Once you have those bases covered, try throwing in something extra, like that red wine soaked cheese you keep eyeing at Whole Foods, the herbed goat cheese you love, or a rosemary crusted round of goat cheese.

Cheeses should be served around room temperature, not too warm and not too cold.

A great way to help educate your guests is by creating fun labels for each cheese. We love these curly bamboo picks. They have a perfect slot for a little tag telling you a little about the cheese.

Cheese pairs well with many different snacks. We recommend including all kinds of different things with your platter, like chutneys, nuts, dried figs, honey, apple slices (a gluten free option for crackers!), dates, apricots, olives, or cured meats. Even chocolate can be great with cheese, just try a little piece with some brie, and you’ll believe us. Try offering crackers and sliced breads for your guests! Have fun and mix it up!

As for beverage pairings, while many people serve wine with cheese tastings, we feel beer has a lot of potential, too! A nice, hoppy IPA or Pale Ale can cut through the fattiness of a cheese and leave your palate refreshed for the next taste.

One cheese we love around here is Toscano, an Italian sheep’s milk cheese with a nutty flavor. It goes great on salads or crackers! Midnight Moon is a goat’s milk cheddar. One bite of this and you’ll never buy the orange stuff at the grocery store again. Try it in a grilled cheese. Humbolt Fog is another cool cheese, combining the look of soft rind brie with veins of blue running through. It’s fantastic by itself, or spread on apple slices.

We hope we’ve inspired you to throw your own cheese tasting! If you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go make a grilled cheese, all this blogging makes us hungry!