By Jill Erber
Spring has sprung, with breezes a-blowing, pollen a-floating and bees a-buzzing. Before you know it, summer will be upon us, with grass a-growing, kids a-shouting and backs a-
sweating. What’s an entertainer to do when everything is just … melting? Fret not: the season is ripe with ways to make your summertime spread sensational.
And of course, it comes down to this host’s best friends: cheese and wine.
Cheese Tip #1: Keep It Simple
Mixing something juicysweet with your cheese is sure to please (Feta + Watermelon = heaven. Blue cheese + grapes = sublime.) But don’t over-dress or otherwise drown your cheese with “stuff.” Less is more, but make sure it’s great quality – that goes for the cheese and the toppings. Oh, and toss chunky fresh herbs on everything. Nothing says “summertime” like torn parsley, mint or basil.
Cheese Tip #2: No One Likes a Sweaty Cheese
Keep your cheeses out of direct sunlight and serve just enough to tempt your guests, refreshing as needed. Since a hot cheese is a sweaty cheese, I avoid the super-aged if serving outside. As the temperature rises, their high ratio of fat starts to liquefy – think butter. The oil droplets that form are harmless, but they can affect the texture and flavor of your cheese. And, frankly, it looks gross.
Cheese Tip #3: Be Gentle with the Grill
When grilling burgers, add cheese off the heat. Place cooked burgers on a plate, immediately apply cheese and cover for a couple of minutes; an inverted serving bowl works wonders. The cheese will melt beautifully without sliding off. Plus, your cheeseburger will taste like a cheeseburger – with layers of texture and flavor.
Wine Tip #1: Boost Your Bubbly
Sparkling wine is delightful year-round, but one of its greatest features is that it’s served cold. With the abundance of fruit juicesout there, this is the time to take your bubbly to the next level. Simply add a couple of tablespoons to a flute – the glass kind, not the musical kind – and fill the rest with bubbly. It’s automatic refreshment. And remember, this blending bubbly doesn’t need to break the bank. What you’re seeking is effervescence and acidity, not a high price tag.
Wine Tip #2: Get funky with the white wines
Sure, we all love Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. But how about Vinho Verde, Grüner Veltliner and Txakoli (pronounced CHA-kuh-lee)? Make your wine a conversation starter and use this as a chance to introduce lesser-known varietals to your wine-loving friends. They, and the tiny producers who make these exotic wines, will thank you.
Wine Tip #3: Rosé the Day Away
Want something cool and refreshing, but you’re grilling chicken, fish, sausage or pizza? Enter rosé, the best of all worlds. Meant to be served chilled, but with enough structure and “oomph” to pair with heartier dishes, rosé is what we drink at home (almost) every day during the summer. And with so many to choose from, you can always have something new.
Now is the time to move on from the cozy comforts of wintertime to lighter, bubblier fare. Luckily, cheese is ever-changing, ever-the-same, ever-complex, ever-simple. Cheese has no “season.” All it needs is seasonal accessories to make it shine. I’m not saying this because I love cheese. I love cheese because I can say this.
Jill Erber is the owner and “cheese lady” of Cheesetique, with locations in Del Ray, Shirlington and Ballston.