Cheese Appreciation with Reg Hendrickson

The fine art of cheese appreciation is actually quite simple and easy to master. All you need is a slightly adventurous spirit and you’re all set to go!

With a bit of cheese and imagination, packing the picnic basket or firing up the BBQ goes from chore to charm! So, the first step is to always consider adding a variety of fine cheeses to your party. Here are some tips to make it easier.

Picnic basket

For a tasty variety, your hamper should include up to 3 cheeses along with your favourite bread, dried fruits and nuts. Semi-soft and firm cheeses will travel well. If you have long-aged Cheddar or Gouda, consider a muesli or fruit-nut-based bread as the fruit and nuts in the bread complement the salt and fruity nature of these cheeses.

Canadian Brie or Camembert are lovely cheeses but they are softer and need more care in the warm weather, so keep them out of direct sunlight. They do work well with baguettes and fresh fruit such as pears and figs. Consider adding some Fresh Curds for the kids to snack on or even add them to your salad for that extra “squeak”. One of the newer cheeses in the market is Chocolate Fudge Cheese that you can use as an instant and easy dessert treat.

Use a freezer pack with the cheese to keep it fresh before you get to your destination. Having handy wipes also allows you to keep the hands clean when handling the cheese or other foods. Requirements are few when packing the picnic basket. Along with the cheese you will need separate knives to prevent cross-contamination and to keep the flavours from mingling. You can use a cheese board or paper plates. To make things even simpler, hard and semi-soft cheeses can be pre-cut and packaged in baggies. What could be easier?

BBQ

Adding a cheese platter to your BBQ is always quick and easy. For instance, a cheese like Canadian Blue is another one that creates a “wow” factor on steaks. Add these during the last few minutes so the cheese just melts without spilling into the BBQ. You need only around 10 grams per portion. It is meant to complement and not overpower the taste of the protein. For a simple appetizer, “bake” a small round of Brie or Camembert topped with your favourite compote.

If you enjoy baking, there are a variety of biscuits, cheese sticks and cookies that can be made ahead of time using fine Canadian cheeses. They are tasty morsels that make a wholesome appetizer, tasty accompaniment for salads or handy snacking with fresh fruit and add that special touch to your outdoor meal.

Handling Tips

  • Whatever the season, whatever the foods, make sure all hands are clean before handling any food.
  • When presenting your platter, avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
  • Cover your cheese and other foods to fend off flying beasts.
  • If food presentation extends over two hours, consider bringing the cheese out in stages or laying the platter over freezer packs.
  • Use new wrapping material when putting open cheese back into the fridge.
  • As well, each cheese should have its own knife to avoid cross-contamination.

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