I don't really know why (and frankly have learned not to question these sudden "I have to...!" urges anymore) but I decided it was time to host a cheese tasting. So with the help of a few friends, we organized a sort of pot luck evening where everyone brought a bit of cheese and drink to share.
Now, I had fully intended to have everything perfectly organized and do the evening in three services. First would be the soft/mild cheeses, then the stronger aged cheeses and finishing up with the stinky blue cheeses. Each course would be accompanied by a variety of nibbles and drinks with dessert and tea to finish. I also intended to have everything go seamlessly so I could flit about and take tons of pictures and make sure everyone was happily enjoying the offerings, while still saving room for the next service.
That was the plan. It sounds lovely, no? In reality...
we ended up with far too much food, my grand plans of having the drinks paired with the cheeses pretty much fizzled, and I only managed to grab a few frantic photos in the middle of it all while I was trying to fend off hungry diners during the transition from one service to the next and we all overindulged so much at the beginning, we never even *made* it to the last service! Le sigh.
That being said, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves so it was still a successful evening, not just quite as I had pictured it. I did realize after the fact that it would have probably been better to have everything out on the table at once. That way people could have paced themselves accordingly, instead of running out of stamina/space part way through. However, considering how much we had, I don't think we could have fit everything on the table. I mean, this is just the second service:
The spread was quite varied, and I was happy to be able to indulge in a few things I've been wanting to try for a while now. I finally got to try Mimolette (the dark orange cheese in the foreground of the above picture) which is a cheese that *always* catches my eye but that I have never found an excuse to buy. It was delightful, if you have a chance to have some, do it :) I also got some burrata, as I have been hearing about it everywhere in the blogosphere lately. It was very soft and very creamy, just as advertised, but being such a fresh cheese, I found it lacking in flavor. I didn't expect to be knocked over by the taste, granted, but the texture didn't deliver the creamy luxuriousness I expected either. For my money, I would sooner have myself a chunk of Saint-Andre cheese that is still light in flavor, but unbelievably unctuous and buttery. Luckily, we had a piece of that on offer as well ;)
We also had a Swiss-style fondue that B made and my mom's Welsh rarebit fondue (in the picture above), and a wide variety of cheeses ranging from soft and fresh to firm and aged. We also had a veritable heap of accompaniments, one of which I was particularly proud. I found a recipe for Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs and knew I had to make them. I love deviled eggs to begin with, but throw in the slightly pickle-y flavor and the bright pink color and you've got me squealing and clapping like a little girl.
I also made martini-soaked olives (word to the wise, don't let them soak more than an hour or two unless you want them very strong!) and some lovely golden raisin and red onion jam. This stuff was amazing with almost all of the cheeses... it was both sweet and savory and I will be looking for an excuse to make this stuff again. So good. To round out the table, we had a variety of preserves, pickles, crackers, dried sausage and pate, as well as homemade bread and some fresh fruit.
Once we were able to move again, everyone went home with a share of the leftovers. I ended up making one heck of a batch of macaroni and cheese with my leftovers and the raisin onion jam is long gone ;) So it's something I would definitely do again, but would certainly scale things down and edit my table more carefully. If not for the sake of my budget, then for the sake of my guests' stomachs ;)