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Two for cheese, please: On a night devoted to romance, nobody wants to do the dishes. Why not celebrate Valentine’s Day—or a stay-at-home date night—with a cheese board designed by you? Release your inner artiste and have fun with the colors and patterns you can create with cheese and all its tasty accompaniments. Steal these tips from the experts who have practically made cheese boards into a competitive sport:
Choose your base: a wooden cutting board, cake stand, marble remnant, slate, basket, tray or even a paella pan.
Gather your cheeses: Aim for variety. Young and aged, soft and firm, mild and pungent. Choose cow, goat, and sheep cheeses to provide a range of flavors.
Select some add-ons: French-style charcuterie (think pâté), Italian salumi, or Spanish chorizo make a cheese board into a hearty meal. Consider mortadella, prosciutto, or fennel salami from a local producer. Tangy condiments include cornichons, olives, mustard, marinated artichoke hearts and pickled vegetables. You’ll want some nuts at the party: pistachios, almonds, walnuts, cashews. Grapes adds freshness and dried fruits (raisins, apricots, dates, pears) are especially pleasing with triple-cream cheeses and blues. Crackers, flatbreads, grissini or sliced baguette are a must. Jams, chutneys and fruit pastes are also fun to have.
Make it pretty: Arrange the cheeses on the platter first, then place any ramekins. Fill in the gaps with rivers of nuts, fruit and crackers. Ta-da!
In California’s sustainable vineyards, there’s an invading army you mostly can’t see. Ladybugs, beneficial mites, bees, parasitic wasps, praying mantis, spiders and other tiny soldiers are patrolling the leafy grapevines, hunting for aphids, harmful mites and other destructive insects that are up to no good.
By growing cover crops and maintaining thick stands of host plants, known as insectaries, grape growers can attract the hard-working predators that keep pest populations under control.
California sparkling wines range in price from easily affordable to big splurge, but all reliably lift the mood when that cork pops. No special glassware required. Slender sparkling wine flutes are nice for admiring the bead (that’s the bubble), but many somms prefer a standard wine glass.
Despite its delicacy, sparkling wine can handle the riot of flavors on a cheese board, from savory to sweet. Choose a blanc de blancs if the cheeses are mostly young and fresh, a brut if the selections are mostly aged or more robust. Sparkling rosé, with its romantic blush, is a Valentine in a bottle.
Wine Institute is an association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses from the beautiful and diverse wine regions throughout the state. Wine Institute works to create an environment where the wine community can flourish and contribute in a positive fashion to our nation, state and local communities. For information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.