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All about cheese
The best cheese boards feature a range of cheese styles and flavors. Create a luscious-looking selection by including at least four types, along with some nibbles such as nuts, grapes, dried fruit, olives and jam. Fresh cheese is moist and soft with a characteristic fresh milky flavor. Its high moisture content makes it spreadable. Add sweet, buttery flavor to a salad with varieties such as goat cheese or cottage cheese. Bloomy rind cheeses, notably Brie and Camembert, undergo intense aging to allow the growth of mold on their exterior, creating a soft and edible rind — and intense flavors. Washed-rind cheeses such as Limburger undergo rind washing as they mature to encourage the growth of mold, creating orange or red rinds and an aromatic smell. The odor can be strong, but the taste is appealing.
Hard vs. semi-hard cheese
Hard cheese undergoes cooking and pressing to eliminate moisture. The result is a dry, hard cheese with concentrated flavor. Young, hard varieties feature moderate, mild aromas that develop to pungent with hints of caramel or pineapple. Examples include manchego and Parmigiano Reggiano. Semi-hard types, which include Emmental, Swiss and Gouda cheeses, are smooth and have a balance of sweet, buttery flavors with moderate levels of salt. Semi-soft cheeses such a Havarti are versatile, tasting creamy on crackers and melting easily for the ever-popular grilled cheese sandwich! Combine contrasting cheese textures with a baguette or chips and crackers when making a cheese board to provide guests with a wide range of flavor experiences.
Cheese and food combinations
Cheese also plays a role in cooking. Mix cheddar cheese with a portion of grated Parmesan for a cheesier sauce. Use ricotta as the basis for pasta dishes, and top veggies with grated Parmesan to add flavor and texture to your dishes. Cheese-based meals are a source of protein and mesh well with beer, wine and cocktails. Keep snacks like Parmesan cheese sticks in your pantry, so you'll always have some tasty snacks on hand for guests.