Great Cheeses for a Dinner Party

January 28, 2011 2 Comments

Great Cheeses for a Dinner Party

La Tur, Prima Donna & Chebris Cheese

A few weekends ago my youngest daughter invited some friends over for dinner and a sleepover but also invited their parents for dinner. We served Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Herb Goat Cheese that were easy to prepare and were delicious. There are a lot of steps you can do ahead so you can spend more time with your guests.

My wife asked me to pick up some fresh goat cheese from my buddy Cheeseman Jack who unfortunately is closing his cheese stand at the Farmer’s Market in Ardmore I go to every Saturday morning. Good news is he is keeping his cheese store at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia open so I guess that means more trips into the city for me. Jack is one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to cheese. He can be a little opinionated when it comes to cheese and life in general, but his encyclopedia knowledge of cheese makes up for it.

I asked Jack for 3 different cheeses to serve before dinner while we were standing around getting to know each other a little better. Here are the three cheeses he selected and each was fantastic in its own way. I’ll try to write more about each cheese in the coming weeks, but for today I just wanted to share these wonderful examples of fine cheeses with you.

Be sure to get to know your local cheese expert so they can give you great suggestions as did my friend Cheeseman Jack. And also be sure to read my Cheese Primer on how to buy cheese.

You can see the three different cheeses, what they cost (I think per pound in this case) and the type of milk used to make it.

If you can’t decide on a cow’s milk, goat’s milk or sheep’s milk cheese, why not have all three. That’s what is used to make this buttery Italian cheese from the Piedmont area call La Tur. You can read more about it at  Le Tur Cheese.

Chabris is a hard cheese from the Basque Region and is made from a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk.  Not sure if you are going to find this very easily but if you have a good cheese shop near you, be sure to ask if they can order some. It is a wonderful find.

Of the three, this Prima Donna is both my wife’s and my favorite. Prima Donna is an aged Gouda from the Netherlands. It is not as aged as some of the 4 to 6 year old Gouda that I write about at Aged Gouda Cheese (and where you can see a photo of Cheeseman Jack too), but it is lot different that the Laughing Cow Babybel cheese you picture in your head when you think of Gouda cheese. This is a cow’s milk cheese that is hard with a sweet – nutty flavor and hints of caramel on the finish.

Try New Cheeses

I know we often get into a rut and buy the same three or four cheeses whenever we have a party or just for having around the house, but I urge you to go out and try something new. There are so many great cheeses being made around the world that you owe it to yourself to give them a try. And remember, let these cheeses come to room temperature before serving.

Last modified on Thu 12 December 2013 9:32 pm

Filed in: Cheese Primer

Comments (2)

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  1. Anne says:

    I have to tell you–Prima Donna is one of my favorites too, but I often end up substituting other brands because I can’t find a place that regularly stocks it. It’s definitely a clear cut above other aged goudas

    Hi Anne, thanks for posting. I’m concerned too since my cheese shop has just shut down. I just tried another brand by Beemster. Have you ever tried this one? – RG

  2. April says:

    Make your own cheese. I obtain a gallon of milk from goats or cows at the farm before it is pasteurized or homogenized. Goat’s milk does not require homogenization like cow’s milk, as th cream does not rise to the top. Since you are going to boil it that means that you are doing the pasteurization. Just say the milk is for your cats, some farmers won’t sell for human consumption because they can’t afford the costly red tape to license them. To make the cheese in a large pot place: 1 gal milk, juice of 1 lemon, a 1/2 tsp salt, and an 12-14 oz of sour cream. Boil, then simmer on low for about 1/2 hr or until you see the curds form. Skim off the curds and drain in colander, then use cheesecloth to squeeze out excess moisture. It makes a ricotta style cheese with lots of flavor.

    Sounds delicious April, thanks for sharing. – RG

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