Ask the Cheesemonger
Q: I’m having a dinner party, and I’d like to offer cheeses for guests to nibble on during the cocktail hour. How many kinds of cheese and how much of each should I serve?
A:Too many different flavors before a meal can overwhelm your guest’s palates, so, for a group of eight or fewer people, I recommend serving just one cheese before dinner. A small goat’s milk cheese paired with an effervescent wine or craft beer can’t be beat. Avoid blues and washed-rind cheeses, as they might overwhelm the palate before the meal.
For each guest, allow approximately 11/4 ounces of cheese; if you have 15 guests, ask your cheesemonger for two cheeses each — about two-thirds of a pound.
For larger groups, set out two or three whole cheeses with a few knives and some sliced bread. Never precut your cheese! This will dry it out—and it takes up precious time that you could have used to clean up the living room. Easy does it.
Caseus Fromagerie Bistro
New Haven, Connecticut