12.29.2013

Meet The Cheese Experts at Whole Foods Market

The first item on my list for our simple but elegant New Years Eve celebration this year is the cheese board. I love the way certain cheeses pair with sparkling wines and fruit. While I have developed a few favorites over the years, I recently was invited to try out a few more, in a cheese sampling / demo at our local Whole Foods Market, where, In my opinion, you'll find the best cheese selection in Jacksonville. 

It's not hard to understand why they excel in this area - Whole Foods Market has 147 Certified Cheese Professionals™ in stores throughout the country, who have mastered the art of cheese - from making to aging to handling it. There is always someone on hand to share their wisdom, including suggested accompaniments to complement your selection.

On the first of what I understand will be a series of cheese themed events, Jacksonville based experts Stephanie and Alice shared tips for assembling and presenting the perfect cheese board for holiday gatherings. 



Some of the crowd favorites:

Melkbus Truffle Gouda
·         Raw cow’s milk gouda from a single-source herd featuring pronounced aromatics. Deep, rich flavors of Italian truffles and cream.  -  Goes with dry sparkling wine, pancetta, rustic breads.

Mitica Pecorino Toscano Stagionato
·         Hints of nuts and butterscotch in this densely textured Italian cheese. Sweet sheep’s milk creaminess. - Goes with Chianti, fig spread, Marcona almonds, crisp pears.

Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue
·         Blue cheese smoked over hazelnut shells. Savory caramel, array of sweet earthy complexity from raw cow’s milk. -  Goes with zinfandel, bourbon, walnuts, grapes.

Appleby Family Appleby’s Cheshire
·         Hand-selected raw milk cheese. Cows graze on mineral-rich grasses, creating savory, clean, tangy flavors. - Goes with pale ales, soft red wines, dried apricots, fresh apples, chutney.

Vermont Creamery Bonne Bouche Ash-Ripened Goat Cheese
·         Soft-ripened goat cheese, hand ladled, aged more than a month.  Appealing notes of fresh earth and subtle hazelnut. - Goes with sauvignon blanc, apples, pears, walnuts, artisan honey.

More wisdom from the Whole Foods Market pros:

How to Create a Cheese Plate

  • Pick cheeses of contrasting textures and flavors: creamy, firm, sweet, pungent.
  • Contrast Old World cheeses with New World selections.
  • On a budget? Buy one or two fantastic cheeses, rather than five or six so-so options.
  • Two ounces of cheese per person is a good rule of thumb.
  • Let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before serving for optimal flavor.
  • Serve with bread and crackers for different textures and flavors to accent the cheese.
  • Talk to your cheesemonger. They can offer suggestions on which cheeses pair well with others. 

Giveaway - We've Saved the Best For Last

It's our last giveaway for 2013! Whole Foods Market, who sponsored my visit to their Cheese Night event, want to share the love - so thanks to them, one lucky reader will start 2014 off with a $75 Whole Foods Market Gift Card - good at any WFM in the USA. That's a lotta cheddar! 

To enter the drawing, please leave a comment on this post answering the question "What's your "must have" item on a cheese board?" Mine is Marcona Almonds. MAD about them. Use the RaffleCopter widget to record your entries - including extras for likes and sharing on Twitter!
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39 comments:

  1. Be sure to leave a comment AND complete the entry on the rafflecopter widget!

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  2. I love a combination of honey with cheese!

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  3. Sara Dougherty12/30/13, 8:27 AM

    My must have is date purée !

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  4. I love Marcona almonds, too! The essential item for me on a cheeseboard is a good Brie. I like to accompany cheeses with good organic dried fruits - especially figs and dates.

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  5. A dipping bowl with dried fruit and nuts.

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  6. I like to serve grapes with cheese

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  7. I love a little honey to balance out all that savory cheese

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  8. I've never put together a cheese board, but now I want to!

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  9. I like grapes on my cheese board and a good cracker is always a must have.

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  10. Got to have a good cracker...but I like figs with cheese!

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  11. I love having figs with cheese. Thank you for the awesome giveaway!

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  12. I like to have grapes and olives!

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  13. A good cracker to accompany the yummy cheese.

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  14. Some fancy crackers! Love em!
    tweety800265(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  15. Cubed Hickory Farm Beef Sticks
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

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  16. my must have item is green olives on a cheese board

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  17. I like to have grapes on a cheese board.

    rounder9834 @yahoo.com

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  18. cheese with crackers

    lilnursejen at yahoo dot com

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  19. gourmet crackers or triscuit crackers

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  20. the Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue sounds amazing

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  21. We like to have a nice salame!

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  22. Crackers.. a nice salty whole wheat cracker.

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  23. I'm personally partial to our bagel rounds. I like how dense they are! The pumpernickle ones are especially good with blue cheeses and pears!

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  24. I like to accompany cheese with fig jam.
    eugeniewu at gmail dot com

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  25. Trader Joe's Raisin Rosemary Crisps

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  26. I like to have some spicy summer sausage.

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  27. I like a brie

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  28. Im a huge fan of brie cheese and some really yummy crackers

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  29. Smoked Gouda!!! Or smoked Cheddar! Basically any kind of smoked cheese!

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  30. I love a good blue cheese! Yum! Thanks for the great giveaway! thefrugalfollies at gmail dot com -- Laura @ Frugal Follies

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  31. Crackers and making a double-stuffed sandwich, yumm.

    thabal628 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  32. I love to have grapes on my cheese board.

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  33. figs, mixed nuts and fancy crackers!

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  34. I love sociable crackers and cheese! :)

    stephanie ann

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