When it comes to entertaining, we usually veer towards smaller groups for a variety of reasons: it’s easier to talk to everyone, it’s much more budget-friendly, and usually you can splurge on better ingredients if you so choose. Like delicious, delicious cheese. For whatever reason, though, I never bother to have a cheese plate at our smaller dinners; part of the reason is, of course, that we were focused on a labor-intensive dish like ravioli or gnocchi and wanted to be hungry when the dish was finished, but I think the primary reason why I never have a cheese course is because it’s never top of mind.
Given the easy access to Caseus and Romeo’s in my neighborhood, this must stop immediately. I love cheese—my favorite part of the meal at a recent wedding was from the glorious cheese plate featuring a beautiful variety of soft and semi-hard cheeses, ranging from Brie to Swiss. At the last big party we hosted, our cheese platter was a huge hit (see above photo). On the other end, sometimes I’ll splurge and buy a small wedge of really good ricotta salata, Manchego, or Sicilian table cheese to enjoy either with or before dinner, yet never do I think of doing the same when we have a few friends come over. I even have a cute set of cheese knives that are a small souvenir from Acqui (and only €13) to use, for crying out loud.
But where to start? I’m thinking that keeping it very simple to just one or two types is imperative, but I’m not sure if having it as an appetizer or in lieu of a dessert makes more sense—if you were at a small dinner party, when would you rather nibble on some cheese?