How to One-Up Everyone's Holiday Cheese Board

December 10, 2015

Since we're clearly fans of dairy, we paired up with Vermont Creamery to share recipes using their crème fraîche and aged cheese.

During the holidays, I'm like a whirling dervish of gift shopping, totally Who'ing out, arms piled with packages and singing on my heels. I love zipping in and out of places, checking things off the list to and fro. I like to give things, period.

Photo by Linda Xiao

But, if I had to choose, what I really love to give is cheese. Cheese shopping is my favorite kind of shopping. It's a pastime enjoyed by many a Food52 staffer, something that requires little to no experience or knowledge to get right. You can let your cheesemonger lead the way, no matter if you want to play it safe or go a little stinky.

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Bringing cheese to a party is like a personality test—and when I bring a smattering of wedges, I like to try and predict who's going to go for what.

Who will take a slice of the one that kind of looks like a brain, all pocked with veins, but is creamy and delightful on the inside? Who has the brawn to take on the blue? And who eats only the hard stuff, careful not to touch their nub to anything remotely questionable?

More: New to cheese? Here's how to talk about it in the company of others.

One cheese, two cheese, white cheese, blue cheese. Photo by James Ransom

When I want to bring a crowd-pleaser to a party, I turn to little rounds of fresh or aged goat cheese, called Crottin. Guests find them cute and easy to manage, not too overwhelming and just tangy enough to feel special. And these days, you better let me at your broiler when I come over, because I can't not make chèvre chaud now.

Just a few minutes under high heat and these little buggers turn into golden medallions of happy, melty dairy atop a slice of toasty baguette. You can serve them as a light appetizer alongside lightly dressed mixed greens, as I usually do, or even in place of a traditional cheese course—and while it might be new to me, or you, it's considered a staple of most menus en français.

More: Once you've decided on greens, make a vinaigrette to go with it.

It's a party-ready bite (or two), and I'd predict that most everyone invited to your soirée will find it delicious, priming them for the rest of the festive evening. And we might as well do as the French do, because joie de vivre is their specialty.

Since we're clearly fans of dairy, we paired up with Vermont Creamery to share recipes using their crème fraîche and aged cheese.

Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker
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Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • I_Fortuna
  • Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
    Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
I love oysters and unfussy sandwiches.


I_Fortuna December 31, 2015
Fried goat cheese with a good viniagrette is awesome. Fry or bake the cheese though, it is great. : )
Riddley G. December 10, 2015
Cheese is like a personality test!