Simon picked a really nice wide variety of wines and cheeses and a lot of them "grew together" so you know that they'll "go together" well.
While Simon pointed out that typically, one would serve hunks of cheese with a small cheese knife on a wooden (cutting) board to allow your guests to serve themselves, I laughed to myself for a couple of reasons. (During class, our plates are prepared with individual slices, so he pointed out that is not the norm when serving cheese.)
I wonder if this is not common knowledge and he had to point it out? But then again, I AM a cheese snob. Anyway, I have found that the best way to serve cheese (in the most accessible manner), is to cut it up in about 1 ounce cubes (well...some kind of shape). This way your guests can easily grab a piece (one handed if they're holding a plate or glass) with their fingers, fork, or toothpick. I also think they feel less guilty grabbing a handful of cheese if it's in a smaller piece...
The other important aspect to serving cheese is labeling! People want to know what it is they are eating before they'll grab. People love to know they're eating some unique cheese or that it's local. And I've met quite a few people who can only eat goat cheese. I used to leave the labels hanging off but that looked quite crude and cheese signs don't stand up in cut up cheese, so now I use a Sharpie to write the info on the edge of a paper plate. When I do use a cheeseboard, I sometimes make little sign tents as well.
Anyway, some of the highlights from this cheese class:
Cabot cheese is actually a co-op of about 300 dairy farmers. I am definitely a big fan of the Vermont dairy's cheddar for sure. (Possible siteseeing someday?)
My favorite was the Langres since it reminded me so much of Epoisses.
The Sottocenere and Truffle Gouda were a bit strong for me, but luckily they were paired with a Ogier Syrah d'Ogier so as not to be too overpowering. Simon said he liked the Sottocenere on grilled cheese!
Since the class was completely full, we got to enjoy some higher end wines and cheese, and Simon even threw in some venison pate, which was new to me as well.
The Wine Merchant = http://www.winemerchantltd.com
Photos by Patience Scanlon