7 posts tagged nick
Typically, the cheese course in a restaurant will come in two forms. First is the traditional, French-style cheese trolley, groaning under an obscene weight of cheese of all types and nationalities, usually accompanied by a waiter who, one hopes, will guide you towards an interesting selection that most suits whatever cheesy mood you may be in at the time. I love the spectacle of it and usually the results, and I do find that I’m much more likely to opt for a cheese course if I’ve encountered the pungent aroma earlier in the meal as the trolley makes its way to diners at another table. I’ve had particularly fine selections at London’s Le Gavroche and The Greenhouse (warning, Flash and music).
The second form is pretty much lip service - a plate with a pre-selected four or five cheeses (usually in paltry amounts) with some grapes and a few biscuits. You get a plate like this come out, and you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll wish you’d never bothered.
Recently, however, I’ve noticed a third type of cheese course appear, and that is chefs attempting to actually do something interesting with their cheese. If you’re particularly in the mood to choose your own then this might not be for you, but I applaud the idea of creating a proper dinner course that is using a cheese as its main ingredient. At The Square in London, I had a wonderful glass of apple granita with blue cheese that was a perfect combined cheese dish and palette cleanser. At Eden in Banff, Canada, I had a plate that had three tasty cheeses along with three canapé-sized creations made from those cheeses. A goat’s cheese was paired with a cheese and onion tartlet, a gouda came with a small crôque monsieur, and a gruyère had a lovely light cheesy gougère.
OK, admittedly maybe none of those three are ground-breakingly inventive ways to use those cheeses, but the dish as a whole was inventive, and a really clever way to present a cheese course that stood proud in its place in a thoroughly excellent menu, whilst allowing the kitchen to avoid the cost involved in maintaining a fully-stocked cheeseboard.
So, restaurants - think about your cheeses as ingredients that deserve to be showcased, not just as an excuse to make an extra tenner out of your customers.