From Our Food and Drink Archives

The Individual Cheese Course

To encourage conversation after dinner or to finish any fine wines you may be drinking, presenting a cheese plate after the main course is a great idea. You can use several cheeses but if you serve only one, it’s easier to garnish.

A creamy rich cheese, such as the crowd-pleasing Quebec Riopelle de L’Isles, is the perfect way to end a meal. Made from cow’s milk, it is a salty triple crème cheese with a slightly tangy flavour.

Make sure the cheese is at room temperature, and allow about 2 oz (60 g) person. Cut a wedge and place on an attractive serving plate.

Make a simple salad to serve alongside. Watercress tossed with a touch of good olive oil and a drop of balsamic vinegar goes well with a creamy cheese. Scatter the salad with a sprinkle of finishing salt like Maldon.

Garnish the cheese plate with a few watercress leaves, and add a little pile of nuts. With a cheese like Riopelle, slices of crisp apple or pear make a good contrast. Finish with some quince or fig chutney in small pot.

Accompany the cheese with sliced baguette instead of crackers because it’s a neutral background to the cheese; crackers, unless they are the right ones, can overwhelm the cheese.

The number of artisan cheeses made in Ontario and Quebec is growing daily so a trip to your local cheese store will give you plenty of options. Always taste before you buy. As a rule of thumb, creamy cheese should have something crisp to accompany it, while harder cheeses work best with chutneys or confits.

If you prefer a blue cheese, try Gorgonzola or Quebec’s Benedictine Bleu. These are both delicious and only need some honey and a few figs alongside. For lovers of Stilton, the classic accompaniment is redcurrant jelly.