Thanksgiving Entertaining with Wisconsin Cheese
Here's a little secret about fall spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon: they pair beautifully with cheese. It makes sense when you think about topping pumpkin pie with whipped cream, or grating nutmeg over a snifter of eggnog.
On a Thanksgiving cheese plate, it's hard to go wrong with a variety of Cheddars, Alpines, and Blues. Toss in a creamy Port Salue, and you've made everybody grin. Add Maple Balsamic Pecans and "Drunk Figs" slow-cooked in brandy, and you may have the whole clan sleeping over in the den.
Here are a few special Wisconsin cheeses that work well before or after a holiday meal. They're versatile and interesting without alienating tender palates. Best of all, they provide a variety of textures and tastes that you will be hard pressed to find in cheeses from any other state.
- Creamy and Mellow
Port Salue has a soft, creamy texture without much bite, making it a great entry point. Also try Les Frères or Petit Frère.
- Sweet and Spiced
Aged Gouda with Cloves and Cumin tastes like a clove-studded caramel. It's wonderful with slow-cooked figs and glazed pecans. Gouda with Cumin or Plain Gouda will also work well.
- Sharp and Tangy
Virgin Pine Native Blue tastes a lot like sharp Cheddar, but it's actually a Blue without any veining – perfect for strong cheese lovers who fear mold. Dunbarton Blue is a fine substitute.
- Bracing and Buttery
Tilston Point is a Stilton-ish selection that will leave you mewling. Figs are its best friend. If you prefer something milder, try Ader Kase Reserve or Buttermilk Blue.
Serve this cheese plate before dinner with a round of Old Fashioned cocktails or dark beer; after dinner, break out the sherry or port. Baguette rounds, oat crackers and amaretti cookies make lovely accompaniments, too.
Recipes, cheese selections and photos by Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage.