I’ve got a real treat for you today and it doesn’t require any cooking! Today’s finger food is all about bringing a few high-quality ingredients together to create a memorable meal–a Finger Food Friday meal. In this case, it’s blue cheese and honey. Sweet honey drizzled over a salty and tangy blue transported by nothing more than a plain, crisp cracker or toasted bread slice. Yum! Several years ago, I discovered this amazing duo and have done a lot of experimenting since with different varieties of each. What I’ve learned is the type of cheese or honey is not nearly as important as where those ingredients come from. For the most memorable cheese platter, you need to shop locally. Seek out a handcrafted (and preferably farmstead) artisanal blue cheese, a neighborhood honey and freshly made and handcrafted crackers and/or bread. Buying local not only insures freshness but it also offers flavor profiles unique to your area. The grass the cows eat and the water they drink play into how the cheese tastes. The same holds true for honey and artisanal crackers and breads. It’s also very rewarding to support the farmers and families who work tirelessly to protect and preserve the time-honored processes that bring these products to market.
The ideal place to purchase these goodies is at your local farmer’s market. If that’s not feasible, then a place like Whole Foods or a specialty market would be your next best bet. Some supermarket chains also source a handful of local, artisan products–you just need to read the labels and ask around. Beyond buying local, here are a few other pointers:
- take the cheese out of the fridge about 30 to 45 minutes ahead of time and leave it wrapped until ready to serve–the closer the cheese is to room temp, the better its flavor and aroma;
- choose plain crackers (heavily salted and seasoned ones will interfere with the cheese);
- choose whole grain bread with nuts and/or raisins, slice the loaf thin and toast in the oven before serving; and
- serve with fruits like apples, pears and grapes.
By now, you should know me well enough to figure out that I won’t be suggesting wine to go with this cheese platter. Nope. It’s craft beer all the way. Why? Because I like it. No. In all seriousness, beer is a natural suitor for cheese. As a general rule, match beer and cheese strength for strength. Pair lighter beers with milder cheeses and heavier beers with more pungent ones. Craft beers and artisan cheeses from the same area also work well together. My current favorite for this finger food is an Imperial Stout. I’d love to hear what you end up with!
Until next week …
Blue Cheese with Honey Drizzle Recipe
1 blue cheese wedge, at room temperature
Honey for drizzling
1 package artisan crackers
1 loaf artisan bread
Place blue cheese wedge on a serving platter. Drizzle enough honey over the top to run down the sides and puddle onto serving platter. Serve with a variety of crackers, breads, fruits and additional honey. Serves 4-6.