Cheese Plate Challenged?
We’re in the depths of January and all the festivities of the holidays are behind us, but you know what – that is no reason to stop eating cheese. To celebrate cheese we’re offering our very first online coupon that is redeemable when you bring a printed copy to the store. The beauty of a cheese plate is that it can be put together with very little effort. All you need to do is buy the cheese, put it on a nice plate, let the cheese warm a little – and voilà! Instant entertaining or a special meal just for you. How’s that for a new year’s resolution?
Sometimes choosing the cheese is the hardest part. Here at the Ottawa Bagelshop and Deli we have one of Ottawa’s best cheese selection with nearly 400 cheeses to choose from. How do you decide between brie and camembert? Queen Elizabeth Bleu or Roquefort? Cheddar or Gouda? Alas, it can take many years to become a certifiable cheese-connaisseur, but since we package the cheese in many sizes, it’s easy to pick and choose and try something new without investing a lot of money or worry about waste. We pride ourselves on having only great quality products, so no matter what you choose, it will be delicious. Here’s a step by step guide to help you choose a great cheese plate for any occasion.
Step One: How much cheese should I buy?
When we entertain we always like to err on the generous side – we’re Italian after all! One can serve a cheese plate as an appetizer or to complete a meal or as a meal in itself! We recommend providing ~60-90g (2-3 oz) per person depending on budget and appetite. In all instances the cheese can be accompanied with bagel-thins,fruit, nuts, crackers, bread or wine jelly. If you’re in a pinch, a plain white baguette will do just fine. Remember, if you don’t see the amount of cheese you would like in the fridge, ask any of our cheese-mongers at the deli counter to cut you your desired size.
Step Two: Types of Cheese
We like to provide a varied cheese plate, with at least 5 different cheeses for your guests to choose. Of course this is easier to do with more guests to feed. If you have less than four people, a cheese plate of three of your favourite types of cheese would be suffice. We suggest providing a medium to strong hard cheese (cheddar), a mild soft cheese (a brie, rind cheese), a semi-soft cheese (oka, gruyère), a blue (that’s the one with the delicious mold, that tends to be strong), and a goat’s cheese (comes both mild and strong). Generally, we suggest having more mild cheese than strong, as this tends to appeal to the majority of people. A general rule of thumb is the older the cheese, the stronger the taste.
Vince, our chief-in-cheese, suggests the following breakdown to determine how much of each cheese to buy. This handy pie-chart basically shows to purchase a little more hard cheese like cheddar and a soft mild cheese like brie since these are the most popular cheeses to almost everyone’s palette. Of course if you hate goat cheese, don’t buy it! Know your guests go crazy for cheddar? Buy more.
Step Three: To Theme or Not to Theme
With so many cheeses to choose from in each category it’s still easy to get overwhelmed. Here are some cheese plate ideas that you can put together from our fine selection of cheeses.
Best-Seller Plate our most popular cheeses! (coincidentally most are from La Belle Province!)
Hard Cheese: Charlevoix 1608 (Quebec) Derived from a special breed of cow that was brought over from France in the 17th century, this hard cheese has a sharp finish.
Mild soft cheese: La Sauvagine (Quebec) A mulitiple award winning, washed-rind triple cream cheese. Buttery, long savoury finish with hints of mushroom and salt. Our best-selling cheese.
Blue: Bleu Ermite (Quebec) A semi-soft blue with natural rind, it is made by Benedictine Monks at the Abbaye Saint-Benoit in Saint-Benoit-du-Lac, Que. A milder, younger version of their award winning Benedictin – it is more crumbly and has a tangy flavour. A good introductory blue cheese to a blue cheese novice.
Semi-soft Cheese: Smoked Applewood (England) A very popular soft cheddar with an intense smoked flavour.
Goat: Le Chèvre Noir (Quebec) A goat’s milk cheddar that is popular for many reasons. A sharp cheese, it has a nutty and buttery notes and a full-flavour.
Josiah’s Plate aka World Class Fromagerie “Variety and contrasting flavours from around the world that compliment each other nicely.”
Hard Cheese: Dubliner (Ireland) From the Kerrygold Dulbliner website: “It has a distinctive rounded flavour and a natural hint of sweetness. Aged for 12 months, it has elements of mature cheddar, sweet nutty tones of a Swiss and the piquant bite of aged Parmesan.”
Mild soft cheese: Le Noble (Quebec) It’s extremely creamy and can become runny when more aged.
Blue: Moody Blue (USA) A subtley smokey blue that is slightly salty and with a strong bite of flavour. It’s crumbly texture lends to it being sliced rather than spread.
Goat: Honey Bee (Holland) A full-fat goat’s milk cheese with well-rounded flavour. Made with a touch of honey, it has a cashew-like sweetness. A mild, not too salty cheese that’s smooth and easily sliced.
Semi-soft Cheese: Le Fou de Roy (Quebec) A washed rind cheese made of organic pasteurized cow’s milk. This melt in your mouth cheese has notes of butter and peanuts.
Josh’s Plate aka The Keepin’ it Easy “Not everyone likes a strong cheese. This mild cheese plate showcases some of our milder choices that are still full of flavour and are very nice.”
Hard: Louis D’or (Quebec) – a raw organic milk washed-rind cheese. “Aromas range from butter to onion and ripe pineapple. A complex mix of sweet, salty, and dominant nutty, fruity flavors finish with a tingle that lingers thanks to raw milk.”
Soft Cheese: St. André (France) A triple cream cheese that is indulgent, buttery and delicious. A favourite of many.
Semi-soft: St. Paulin (France) a cow’s milk cheese that is similar to havarti or estrom.
Blue: Cambozola (Germany) a combination of the French Cammembert and the Italian Gorgonzola, this German cheese is a creamy confection with less bite, and a milder taste than other blue cheeses.
Goat: Beemster (The Netherlands) A very mild, easy goat cheese. No “barnyard” flavour in this goat.
Vince’s Plate aka The Big Cheese. As a customer aptly said, “Have you seen that guy?! He knows cheese.” Yes he does.
Hard Cheese: Laankaster Aged Gouda (Lancaster, ON) “Supreme Global Champion” of cheese! A delicious gouda-style cheese that has notes of caramel, pineapple, butterscotch and butter. Balanced, robust flavour.
Soft Cheese: Riopelle (Quebec) A triple-cream brie style cheese that is mild, creamy, smooth with a buttery finish.
Semi-soft: Oka (Quebec) Originally made by Trappist Monks since 1898, this creamy, this creamy cheese has a pungent aroma but mild nutty and fruity taste.
Blue: Bleu Bénedictin (Quebec) The stronger, older brother of Bleu Ermite. Wrapped in gold it’s easy to find, has a creamy, strong flavour. Those monks sure know how to make cheese.
Goat: Sainte-Maure de Touraine (France) A full-fat goat’s milk cheese that’s made into a log with soft, grey moldy rind.
Thank you very much to Josh and Josiah for their great cheese plates and styling the cheese for the pictures. Thank you to Penny and Mark for their cheese knowledge and to Amnath, Callie and Harold for taking care of our cheese everyday.