by Barrie Lynn
My passion for cheese came to me by being struck by Cupid’s Arrow. As a former advertising executive, I entertained my clients regularly. I took a client to a fund raiser for Slow Food, an organization that promotes the sharing of local foods and culture, and it happened to be a cheese tasting. I tasted a cheese made by a small Wisconsin cheese-maker and it blew my mind. It was Pleasant Ridge Reserve, a cow’s milk Alpine style cheese made by Upland’s Cheese Company located in pristine rolling pasture lands. My whole world shifted, I fell in love and the rest is history.
I looked for ways to use my marketing skills to help these family cheesemakers grow. I ended up pitching the Academy Awards to be in its famous goodie bag that stars attending the event receive. I was actually chosen for this honor and my gift was to bring the stars my Artisanal Cheese & Wine Pairing Adventure right in their own homes. The media went wild when they learned of my gift. “The Cheesiest Gift in Hollywood History” read the headlines. So I knew I had touched on something important and I decided to stop working in corporate America. And here I am, years later, writing for Missouri Meetings & Events magazine.
For this column, I’ll suggest several tips on how to entertain with artisanal cheese during your next meeting or event:
1. Serve only one ounce of any particular type of cheese to each person. I cut my cheeses in triangles, strips-or with aged cheeses-in chunks.
2. Serve 3 to 5 different cheeses. Any more than this and it confuses your palate.
3. Place your cheeses on your cheese board from mild to the most robust. I do my cheese boards clockwise-in a circular pattern-with the first cheese at noon.
4. Take your cheeses out of the fridge at least one hour before serving. This will give you and your guests the best flavors. Just like white wine or champagne, you don’t want it too cold or you miss the nuances.
5. People want to know where their food comes from. Make menus for your cheese presentation with the name of the cheese, the milk type (cow, goat, sheep, buffalo), the cheese company, the cheese-maker and tasting notes. I make Cheese Scrolls with this information included, then I roll them up and tie them with a ribbon for each guest. The Cheese Scrolls serve as a nice memento of the event.
6. I use unsalted nuts on my cheese board…who needs more salt?
7. I love dried fruit like figs, apricots, raisins and apples with my cheese…there are so many delightful choices out there.
8. Serve your cheese with French baguettes or plain unsalted crackers.
Visit my website, www.thecheeseimpresario.com, for more information on me as well as cheese and how to properly enjoy it!
Barrie Lynn, the Cheese Impresario, lives and works out of St. Louis, Mo.