Last Friday, I attended a media preview of the Cheeses of France pop-up cafe down on Bleecker Street in Manhattan. While there, I was able to sample some amazing dishes with a French “flair”. My favorite was the macaroni and cheese and I will be sharing that recipe (along with a video of Top Chef contestant Ash Fulk preparing it at the event) later this week. After sampling a variety of cheeses, watching a food sculptor named Krai create cheese “art” and seeing a demo of a cheese dish, I left channeling Steve Urkelish by the end of the night: “Got any cheese?”
In any event, I picked up some great tips on pairing cheese with food and wine courtesy of the Cheeses of France…
Pairing Cheese with Food
- Include figs, blackberries, golden raisins, and dried apricots for a sweet, exotic complement.
- Add a healthy crunch with a variety of nuts.
- Go gourmet with quince paste, plum butter, or chutney on the side.
- Drizzle a little honey on pungent cheeses for a dash of sweetness.
- Offer toast points, fruit and nut crostini, or thin slices from a baguette.
- If serving crackers, select mild styles that won’t compete with the cheese.
- Slice apples or pears into thin wedges and arrange with selected cheeses.
Pairing Cheese with Wines
- French wines, red and white, from the same region as your cheeses are a natural choice. But there are many options from other countries, so experiment!
- In general, pair a mild cheese with a lighter, milder wine and a more robust, stronger cheese with a bolder wine.
- With triple-crèmes, sparkling wines work well, or light to medium reds made with Gamay or Pinot Noir; and whites made with Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay.
- Coated-rind cheeses like Camembert and Brie pair well with light to medium reds.
- Wash-rind cheeses like Epoisses, Livarots, and Munsters pair well with medium-bodied, sweeter whites; and reds such as Grenache blends.
- Firmer pressed cheese like Tomme de Savoie goes well with medium to full-bodied whites or light to medium reds. Sweeter wines can pair well too.
- With bleus, sweeter wines work best. Ports, Madeiras, Sauternes, and sherries made with Moscatel or Ximenez work well, or for red try Cabernet Sauvignon. Even some Chardonnays can be successful.
- Beer, cider, coffee, and liqueurs can also complement French cheese.