The temperature: Bring cheese to room temperature 30 minutes to one hour before serving. Set out no more than will be eaten and cover loosely. Remember to quickly refrigerate any unserved cheese.
The knife: A two-tipped, curved blade. Use more than one if serving stronger cheeses with milder ones. When sliced, cheese is pricked with tips to transfer to plate.
The rule: Share the rind. Cut cheese so that each portion has some rind. The last slice served should not have more rind than cheese. A plus: cheese flavor isn't uniform, it has more tang near the rind.
The order: Mild cheeses first, followed by stronger. Don't mingle aromas, keep different cheeses well apart on platter and plate.
The right slice:
- Flat cheese, round or squares & pyramids: cut in triangles, just as for a cake, picking knife point in center of cheese
- Firm cheeses, laid flat: cut slices lengthwise if rind is only on one end, crosswise if rind runs along parallel edges
- Blue-veined cheeses: cut in triangles radiating from center of the lower end of the wedge, the first cut will be a corner
The next post: The Right Slice: More on the hows and whys of cheese cutting rules. Un art de vivre.
Text & photos ©2009 P.B. Lecron