In my view, whatever the question, the answer is ALWAYS cheese.
And, as the weather cools and the year draws to an end, ’tis the season to be…eating as much cheese as possible.
Whether it’s catering to a big crowd of friends and family, or settling in to watch Netflix on a weekend, or just because, cheese is the ideal entertainer. I know, I’m biased. But frankly, it can be the perfect end to a dinner party, or served as a spread at any party
But it’s not always easy to choose the right cheeses. So I’ve joined with Lulu Qatar and Chocolate Fish Parties to show you how easy it is to creative a fun, festive and pocket friendly festive cheese plate this season.
And you are in luck because starting 14 December, all Lulu stores around Qatar will holding their annual “Cheese Festival” – with cheeses from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the Middle East showcased.
The ideal elements for our cheese plate were sourced from our local Lulu and all cost less that QR200 (including the cheese board).
So here are my tips for an awesome, even Pinterest-worthy cheese board for the festive season:
- How much should I buy?
My rule of thumb is to buy less cheese (yeah ironic I know) but bigger pieces. Cheese keeps well if stored properly so a hunk of brie can be used for after a dinner party then a snack. Aim for 120 to 150 grams per person.
2. What cheese should I buy?
Well, this is a matter of taste and there is no wrong answer here, but as a rule of thumb I like to include a selection of three to four cheeses, different textures and styles :
- A brie – this is the “King of Cheeses” for a reason. Creamy and a little indulgent, you can always rely on this crowd pleaser. We used the popular President Cheese brie for our board which is buttery and creamy and a little bit dreamy.
- Something blue – some people shy away from blue cheese, but a cheese board is frankly naked without it. A good blue can make or break a cheese board. Check out A roquefort or a gorgonzola. Stinky, yes, but delicious!
- A hard cheese – a cheddar is going to make everyone happy. It can be a softer, younger kind or an older, more “bitey” one. It pairs well with fruit or a chutney.
- Something Italian – Parmesan is the stallion of the Italian cheese stable and you should consider on your cheese board rather than you pasta. Served with some of the great local and imported honey (make sure it’s pure rather than a blend), this is one of life’s great food pairings.
- Something creamy – Living in the Middle East we have access to some wonderful fresh, white cheeses like labne. You can serve this with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce on some crackers. A great selection of fresh or pre-packed labne is available at Lulu’s deli area.
3. What should I serve with my cheeses?
Again, this is where you can let your imagination run wild. A good biscuit, cracker or crusty bread can complement the cheese, as can honey, olives, fresh and dried fruit. The main thing to remember is not to overload the cheeseboard with additions. The star of the show should be the cheese. Some great options are:
- Green and red grapes
- Dried fruit like apricots or raisins
- Juicy fresh figs
- Chex Mix crackers
- Crackers like Tucker’s Natural which go well with both hard and soft cheeses
- Deli meats like beef salami or shaved turkey
- Olives (stuffed or big, black kalamata ones)
- Crusty baguettes
- Nuts like walnuts and almonds (you can get these by the kilo)
5. When should I serve the cheese?
Anytime! All day! All the cheeses? But seriously, cold cheese is a bit of a crime. Let the cheese come to room temperature, this allows the flavors to develop.
6.How to serve it?
You are only limited by your imagination! Check Pinterest for inspiration for your #cheeseboardgoals or see Lulu Good Life for their super simple tips and tricks for entertaining. Remember people eat with their eyes so use color and textures. As for what to serve it on, we used a simple pine chopping board from the kitchen aisle of Lulu – when not in use for cheese excitement, it can do double duty.Also remember to give your guests options so they can mix and match as they like.
7. What about the leftovers?
In my house there is no such thing as leftover cheese. Seriously. But should this rare event occur, try to wrap them in wax paper to let it breath (plastic can suffocate it) and place in the bottom shelf of your fridge or the veggie drawer (it’s nice and cold down there).
8. Where do I get great cheese?
As I said, Lulu’s Qatar stores have an extensive and accessible range of cheese. From simple cheddars through to some great imports from further afield. You can check their Cheese Festival from 14 December in all stores for their offers plus all the extra accompaniments you may need.They have imported some special cheeses for the week-long event which will give you even more options.
So, those are my grate ideas (see what I did there) to help you build the festive cheese plate of your dreams and you can brie the best entertainer this year.