Food is one of the most memorable ways to celebrate a new beginning, salute a happy ending, mark a successful accomplishment, or reunite old friends. Any cause for celebration takes on new meaning when you share a menu that is exclusively yours- a vintage wine, fun appetizers, a new dessert- to draw you closer together in relaxed camaraderie. To invite friends on the deck for lunch, in the kitchen for biscuits or take a picnic blanket for snacks in the park is delightful. Whether for a milestone or simply an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, tasty and inventive cheeses take every menu to the next level.
Cheese dates back to before recorded history, perhaps as far back as 6,000 B.C.E. We know that cheese was part of the Sumerian diet, 4000 years before the birth of Christ. It was made from both cows’ and goats’ milk and stored in tall jars. Egyptian tomb murals circa 2000 B.C.E. show butter and cheese being made, and other murals which show milk stored in skin bags suspended from poles demonstrate a knowledge of dairy husbandry.
An enormous variety of cheeses are made, in virtually every country on earth. Cheese varieties have been developed with the milk from a broad spectrum of animals—including the reindeer in Scandinavia, the boar in Africa, the water buffalo in Italy, the yak in Tibet, and the mare in Russia.
To demystify the terms tossed out by cheesemongers, start with a Cheese 101 class to appreciate the true language of centuries-old perfect food. Rich Rogers, founder of Scardello Artisan Cheese in Dallas, conducts regular gatherings for all to enhance their Artisanal Cheese journey. “Outside the egg, cheese is near perfection. With concentrated proteins and nutrients that are very satisfying,” he shares. “We offer Fondue Night, Valentine’s Night, Tea and Wine Pairings. Each event is a relaxing learning moment to appreciate the vast new world of cheese.”
Artisan cheese is manufactured by hand using the traditional craftsmanship of skilled cheesemakers. As a result the cheeses are often more complex in taste and variety. American cheesemakers are producing a huge variety of top-notch cheeses that rival their European forebears. Plump and nearly busting through its thin rind of velvety white mold, Hyku is an elegant goat cheese that is aged about six weeks in Northern California by Goat’s Leap. Herbaceous and only gently goaty, the cheese is creamy and subtle with a refreshing tang.
To trim sugar intake, Rich loves to substitute the dessert course at a dinner party with a cheese course. “We pick out 3-5 cheeses, a mix of types and textures. (Think of 1.5-2 oz. per person, then serve in individual dessert plates.) It’s a great way to end the evening and create unique conversation with friends,” he says kindly.
With cheese enthusiasts on hand to educate and entertain guests, Scardello is uniquely qualified to design a memorable pairing for your next occasion. Celebrate winter in consummate style when you serve artisan cheeses with your next affair.
Age is not important unless you’re a cheese.