If there’s any food I love as much as bacon, it’s cheese. I absolutely love and adore it – stinky, soft, aged, fondu-ed – any kind will do. One of my favourite warm-weather Friday nights out is sitting on a patio somewhere (at home or at a restaurant), enjoying a glass of wine (white, pinot grigio ideally) and nibbling on a platter of cheese.
In preparation for spring and nights out on the balcony in our new place, I’ve tried to find a formula for the perfect cheese plate. A good cheese plate has a few key components: cheese variety (different flavours, textures and ripeness), fruits (I like apples, pears, and figs but it is all dependent on your cheeses), jam/marmalade/honey (I like honey with any cheese, and a light fruit jam with softer cheeses), and some kind of cracker/bread (the crispier and thinner, the better).
Toronto has some amazing cheese shops: Alex on Yonge, Global Cheese in Kensington, and Leslieville Cheese Market are among my personal favourites. When it comes to choosing the right cheeses for a plate, I often tend to select about one or two known favourites (a blue cheese, asiago or a sharp cheddar for example) then get a few more new flavours. I also try to have a nice mixture of hard, semi-hard, soft and blue cheeses as well as cheese from different milks (my personal favourite? goats milk, any time). The fruits and marmalade/honey/jam on the side for pairing, is key. I find these touches often bring out the flavour of cheeses in totally new ways. Finally, I like to cut up (thinly!) and toast some fresh baguette, as well as provide one or two store-bought cheese cracker options.
Cheese – like wine – has its experts, flavour profiles, and unique notes that you can learn about over time. If you’re ever looking to learn more (and make your friends happy with delicious cheese servings on balmy nights), here are a few places to go:
…or, just pair some cheese, wine and bacon bits and call it a wonderful evening!