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A Cheese Accompaniment can either be a condiment that pairs well with a certain type of cheese, or a complementary food that tastes better when eaten concurrently with cheese. A condiment is defined as a substance that is used to flavor or complement other foods. The word condiment was first seen in French print in the early 1400s, and has origins in the Latin word condimentum, meaning "spice". Just as ketchup, mustards and relishes are used to enhance meats, cheese is often accompanied by a variety of foods to enhance its flavor. Certain condiments pair with specific cheeses better than others. Please use this Cheese Accompaniments Guide to help create a striking cheese platter, appetizer, meal or snack.
Cheese Accompaniments - Balsamic Vinegar
Originating in Italy, Balsamic Vinegar is a reduction made from unfermented grape juice. Authentic Balsamic Vinegars are from the Modena or Reggio Emilia regions of Italy and are aged 12, 25 or even 50 years! Balsamic Vinegar pairs well with hard aged cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano or aged Goudas. Drizzle Balsamic Vinegar over cheese or dip a piece of cheese in a small bowl of Balsamic Vinegar for the best balance of flavors.
Cheese Accompaniments - Breads
Whether it be a nut bread, sourdough, a French crusty baguette or a slice of artisan rye, most breads pair well with cheese as long as the flavor of the bread does not overwhelm that of the cheese. Try a slice of crusty bread with blue, Brie or Parmesan cheeses. Pair rye bread with a Cheddar, Gouda or Gruyere. Pumpernickel pairs well with Mozzarella or Jarlsberg. There are nearly unlimited pairing options for bread and cheese, so be sure to choose a combination that appeals to you and your guests.
Cheese Accompaniments - Chutney
Made from vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, Chutneys may be sweet or hot and smooth or chunky. Fruit based Chutneys pair best with creamy young cheeses or a mild Swiss cheeses while a savory Chutney such as tomato Chutney pairs well with sharp Cheddar cheese.
Cheese Accompaniments - Crackers
Crackers are the most traditional pairing for cheese whether it is for a snack, as an appetizer, dessert, on a cheese platter or when traveling. From wafer thin airy Australian Water Wheels, to Raincoast artisan cracker crisps, you can't go wrong with this classic cheese pairing. Nut and dried fruit-studded Daelia's Biscuits for Cheese crackers add a crunchy sweetness to goat cheese and Brie. The olive oil flavor of Urban Oven Crackers pairs well with such aged cheeses such as Gruyere, Cheddar and Gouda. Nairn's Oat Biscuits are great with soft goat cheeses, triple creme and cheddar cheeses. Spanish Tortas de Aceite are sweet olive oil biscuits that perfectly complement hard Spanish cheeses such as Manchego as well as softer triple crème cheeses.
Cheese Accompaniments - Cured Meats
A selection of premium quality specialty meats makes an excellent complement to cheese or a cheese platter. Try pairing Chorizo with Manchego cheese, or salami and prosciutto with Parmigiano Reggiano or Provolone.
Cheese Accompaniments - Dried Fruit and Nuts
Dried or fresh fruit and nuts are classic Cheese Accompaniments. The sweetness of fruit offers a balance to the saltiness of many cheeses. Specifically, soft cheeses such as Brie pair well with fruits such as dried apricots. French cheeses such as Camembert pair well with green grapes. Red grapes are a fine accompaniment to goat cheese. Almonds enhance the flavor of Asiago cheese, while walnuts pair well with soft cheeses such as Brie and goat cheese. Experiment with different fruits and nuts to find your favorite flavor combinations.
Cheese Accompaniments - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from the mechanical pressing of olives without any heat or chemicals and has an acidity of less than .8%. Fresh cheeses such as Mozzarella, ricotta and goat cheese absorb a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil well and showcase the oil's complexity of flavor.
Cheese Accompaniments - Honey
Extracted from the hives of honey bees, honey comes in many varieties and may be infused with the flavors of cinnamon, wildflowers, truffles and even chilies. This natural sweet syrupy liquid lends sweetness to the natural saltiness of both mild and pungent cheeses. Strong blue cheeses like Cabrales, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Stilton as well as soft goat cheeses are enriched by the notes in this rich golden syrup.
Cheese Accompaniments - Jams and Jellies
While jams are made from fruit juice, jellies are made from pulp or crushed fruit. Preserves are made from chunks of fruit, and marmalade is made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits. Flavors range from those found in everyday fruits such as grape, strawberry and apricot to the exotic flavors of dragonfruit and papaya. Fig preserves pair well with stronger cheeses such as blue cheese while raspberry preserves offer the perfect sweet and tart balance to fresh goat cheeses. Citrus marmalades are great when paired with pungent washed rind cheeses such as Epoisses or Livarot.
Cheese Accompaniments - Membrillo and Other Fruit Pastes
Quince Paste, or Membrillo, is a sweet spread and a traditional Spanish Cheese Accompaniment. Spanish Quince Paste is typically paired with Spanish Cheeses such as Manchego, Mahon or Ronchal. Sweet and tart, Quince Paste is usually sold in squares and is cut into slices and eaten with cheese, bread, in sandwiches or pastries.
Cheese Accompaniments - Mustards
Plain or flavored mustards are popular accompaniments for cheese. Horseradish, honey and fruit are just some flavors added to mustards which add a delicious complexity to cheese. English and Scottish mustards provide the perfect amount of spice to strong Cheddars while French mustard pairs well with delicate French cheeses, such as Port Salut.
Cheese Accompaniments - Olives
Olives add a nice mix of flavor, acidity and saltiness to cheese. Mild and meaty olives, such as olives stuffed with cheese or garlic pair well with dry aged cheeses, while spicy olives pair well with fresh young cheeses such as Mozzarella, ricotta or goat cheese.
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