Cheese, Glorious Cheese: Seasonal Cheeses To Accompany Your Thanksgiving Meal

November 9, 2017

Words by: Rebecca Schneider, Hart’s Local Grocers Cheesemonger

It seems like we’ve waited an eternity this year for fall. For the leaves to change. For the air to change. For that familiar and familial feeling that this particular season brings us. And with it comes all kinds of lovely holiday joys and delights. It may have taken a while, but it’s finally here! From rich and warm colors, to intoxicating aromas coming from the kitchen, this upcoming holiday is surely one of the best.

Thanksgiving is a day that ideally dedicates itself entirely to family, friends and food. A meal that requires most of the day to prepare, but shouldn’t take away from quality time with your loved ones. While the main meal is roasting, boiling, or baking, it’s always a good idea to have some starters. With that being said, let’s talk cheese. Cheese, glorious cheese!

Modern day appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, and starters are said to have been inspired by Ancient Rome and Greece. We often see paintings of Romans and Greeks lying about with trays of fresh fruit, olives, wine and cheese. Historically, these kinds of foods were served to offer a variety of successive courses to expand the meal time and conversation among comrades as well as to stimulate the appetite with small servings of salty sides. It’s no wonder that cheese and charcuterie platters are among some of the most popular pre-meal starters today.

Fromage Blanc

Just as you would choose seasonal vegetables to accompany your Thanksgiving dinner, Hart’s has many seasonal cheeses for you to select from to precede the meal. Let’s explore some helpful tips on how to build your cheese platter this holiday:

The first thing to consider is the guest list:
– For a dinner of 4 to 8 people, a ¼ lb of each cheese is recommended
– For 12, 1/3 to ½ lb of each cheese is suggested
– For 16, anywhere from ½ to ¾ lb of each cheese is best

Select 3-4 cheeses to ensure that everyone still has room for all of the other tasty vittles soon to come!  Normally, you might want some crusty bread, crostini, or baguette to pair with your cheese selection, but with the Thanksgiving meal following shortly, it’s a good idea to go with light crackers or crisps instead. These are not as heavy as bread, so they will not fill you up and spoil your appetite.

You can also sprinkle in some candied nuts, almonds, apples, pears, olives, dried fruits, figs and cornichons. Jams and preserves are also an excellent choice to complement your cheeses.

Hip Jam

By the way… Hip Artisan Jams, located in Penn Yan, NY, just hit the shelves  here at Hart’s and we are very excited about these interesting and delicious combinations. Some include Chocolate Strawberry Merlot, Peach Pinot Grigio, and Raspberry Rose Wine. All fantastic and guaranteed to pair perfectly with a number of cheeses.

The last, but perhaps most important thing to remember while preparing a cheese board, is to serve cheese at room temperature. Take your cheeses out of the refrigerator one hour before serving and leave wrapped until right before serving.  It’s also be a good idea to label the cheeses. This will let your guests know exactly what it is they’re trying, and also save you from having to repeat yourself all day.

Right now, Hart’s Local Grocers is offering a number of tasty, seasonal artisanal cheeses that will be sure to set the tone for this special day!

Trying to go local? From First Light Farm and Creamery, we have the Maple Bourbon Fromage and Pumpkin Spice Chevre. Both seasonal, limited-time, soft and spreadable cheeses with flavors that might actually knock your socks off. From 5 Spoke Creamery is the Harvest Moon, a delightful Mimolette-style, rich and creamy. From Nettle Meadow, the Rosemary Fromage Blanc, a lovely soft and silky fresh goat’s milk cheese with a subtle rosemary flavor.

Cheese Platter

Wensleydale with Cranberries, Sage Derby, Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor, and Rosemary Asiago are among some of the domestic and imported seasonal cheeses we are offering this year. These are a select few that will make for an absolutely beautiful cheese board. Not only do these cheeses have exceptional fall flavors, they fit the aesthetic with velvety cream, rich orange hues and dreamy green-all sure to impress!

Whether you are hosting, or bringing a dish to pass, it can sometimes be a stressful experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Assembling an easy, yet impressive cheese board is not as difficult as it may seem. And it also just happens to be one of my favorite things to do! Strike up a conversation with me and together, we will find exactly what you are looking for.

Thanksgiving is the time for connecting with people that you care about. A lot of us do that through a shared love of good food and good conversation. This year, be sure to enjoy yourselves and each other. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

No time to assemble your own platter? We can help! From 11/10/17 through 12/1/17, get 20% off a catering order of $100 or more- including your holiday cheese platter!  Stop in or call (585) 521-4278 ext. 230 to place your order. Order must be fulfilled by 12/31/17. Use code HOLIDAYPLATTER for online orders.

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