Everything you need to know about eating and cooking with curds
There aren't any hard and fast rules when serving cheese—or any other food, really. You're only doing it wrong if you don't like the end result.
Serving cheese should be easy, not fussy; it should be fun, not stressful. That said, some of the guidelines in the video can help direct you towards a positive cheese-serving experience.
Serving tips, after the jump.
Serve Cheese at Room Temperature
Cheese is made and aged at cool room temperatures, so it makes sense that it would be best enjoyed at those same temperatures. The aromatic and complex flavors of cheese don't really begin to appear until the cheese is at room temperature. Cheese that's chilled to refrigerator temperatures (roughly 35ºF) is simply not as tasty. Be careful though, especially in the summer months (or in hot apartments like mine): if you warm up the cheese too much, it'll start to sweat and melt in unappetizing ways. Werlin says it takes about an hour for refrigerated cheeses to come up to room temperature, and I would agree with that. Think ahead!
Don't Crowd the Cheese Board
This one makes perfect sense. Actually it makes so much sense that it's pretty much common sense. Putting too many cheeses on a cheese board makes them hard to cut. The solution? Buy fewer cheeses (I usually prefer quality to variety anyway), buy a bigger cheese board, or put cheeses on multiple boards.
Don't Pre-Cut the Cheese
Werlin recommends keeping the cheese whole because pre-cutting it into cubes causes it to dry out sooner and makes it look like a cheap deli platter. I don't really care about whether or not the cheeses look like a cheap deli platter and I don't really think that cutting the cheeses would make them noticeably drier over the course of a party or dinner. Sure, don't cut the cheese into cubes days before you serve it, but I would otherwise leave the pre-cutting thing up to personal choice.
Don't Dig the Center Out of the Cheese and Leave the Rind Behind
Werlin calls this the most annoying and rude thing you could possibly do. Guilty as charged! I am not a huge fan of cheese rinds and I usually leave the rind I don't eat on the cheese board. What am I supposed to do with them, put them in my pocket? I wasn't aware that this was rude and annoying, and I hereby give all of us rind-haters permission to break this rule.
Maintain Cheese Shape
Werlin recommends cutting slices off the cheese in such a way as to maintain the shape of the original wedge. This seems overly fussy to me. Who cares if the wedge starts taking on a weird, asymmetrical shape? Ultimately it is less important to me to maintain the shape of the wedge than to cut a slice that best showcases the cheese. To that end, try to cut a slice that includes both the center of the cheese as well as parts closer to the rind. They are often vastly different in taste and texture.
Use a Different Knife for Every Cheese
While this is certainly a noble goal (so that you don't end up mixing different cheeses on dirty knives), I find that it is often futile. No one at your party or dinner will respect the original knife assignments. Ultimately I just end up putting a bunch of knives on the cheese plate and hoping for the best.
What guidelines do you follow when serving cheese? Are you fussy or functional?