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From the Chronicle Kitchen:
Cheese Plate App Perfect cheese plates made easy with themed threesomes, substitutes, and wine suggestions

Just in time for New Year’s holiday entertaining, our newest app, Cheese Plate, is available now on iTunes.

It’s written by Janet Fletcher, San Francisco Chronicle’s expert cheese columnist, and author of two Chronicle Books best sellers, The Cheese Course and Cheese & Wine.

Perfect cheese plates are made easy with this app—with themed threesomes, substitutes, and wine suggestions. Having this info on the go makes selecting cheeses foolproof when you’re standing in your local shop or market deciding what will work best for your fête.

Functions and features of Cheese Plate include:
• 150+ identification photos
• Discover cheeses by country, type of milk, country of origin
• Learn how to buy, taste, handle, and store cheese
• Inside-app search
• Social media out-messaging with thumbnail photos to email, Facebook, Twitter (for cheese plates & 150 individual cheese profiles)

Enjoy the “Cheese How To’s” below and let us know what you think about the app after you take a look at the preview. Leave a comment and enter to win a free download (remember, presently this app is for iPhones only, and usable on the iPad).

I wish you all a very happy entry into 2011!

Cheese How To’s

How to Pair Cheese and Wine

In a successful match, both cheese and wine are as pleasing together as they are on their own. Neither one diminishes enjoyment of the other. For the best outcome, consider the following elements when making your selections:

• Texture: Matching buttery cheese with creamy wine is one good approach, but textural contrast works, too. Try a triple-crème cheese with a palate-cleansing sparkling wine.

• Intensity: For delicate wines, choose delicate cheeses. More robust wines can handle aged cheeses with more concentrated flavors.

• Acidity: With a cheese of pronounced acidity, such as Cheddar or a young goat cheese, pair a wine of high acidity.

• Sweetness: Although cheeses are not literally sweet, we perceive some cheeses—such as aged Gouda—as having a sweet or caramel-like finish. A nutty, off-dry sherry or Madeira can be particularly pleasing with such cheeses.

• Mold: The veins of mold in blue cheeses strip most dry wines of their fruit. A sweet wine is almost always a better choice.

How to Buy Cheese

A knowledgeable merchant can guide you to cheeses that appeal to your taste. Seek out a retailer who takes good care of the inventory. A few signs of a good cheese counter:

• Selection: A large selection is nice, but a thoughtful selection is even better. Look for a merchant who supports local producers and small-scale artisans. Does the shop offer cheeses you don’t see elsewhere? Does the selection include many farmstead or raw-milk cheeses?

• Appearance: How does the display look? Do any cheeses look dried out, moldy, sweaty, or poorly wrapped? Is the case a jumble, or is it neat, well organized, and well signed?

• Knowledge: Is the staff well trained? Do employees volunteer descriptions or information about the cheeses?

• Enthusiasm: Do the clerks offer samples, point out new items, or ask questions about what you’re seeking? Try to buy from people who are passionate about cheese.

• Service: When possible, buy from a store with a staffed cheese counter. The best merchants let you taste before you buy, then cut your selection to order and wrap it in coated paper, not plastic wrap.

How to Taste Cheese

As with wine, evaluating cheese calls for the input of several senses.

• Appearance: Is the rind in good condition or breaking down? Is the interior ripening properly, or does it have cracks or eyes that it shouldn’t have? Are the veins in a blue cheese well distributed?

• Aroma: Raise a piece to your nose. What descriptors come to mind? Is it nutty or grassy? Does it smell of warm butter, earth, or sour cream, perhaps?

• Texture: Let a small piece of cheese dissolve on your tongue. Is it creamy, chalky, sandy, waxy, or silky? Try to describe how it feels.

• Taste: Sweet, sour (tart), salty, bitter, and savory (umami) are the five “tastes” that our palates can discern. Some aged cheeses impart a perception of sweetness. All cheese needs salt and acidity but not too much; without them, cheese tastes flat and dull.

• Finish: Do the flavors linger on your palate, as with a fine wine?

How to Handle Cheese

All cheese is perishable, but careful storage can prolong its life. Keeping the storage environment humid while allowing the cheese to “breathe,” or release moisture, is key.

• Cheese always tastes better at room temperature. Flavors and aromas emerge that are muted when the cheese is cold, and the texture becomes more supple, especially in moist cheeses.

• Unwrap the cheese when you remove it from the refrigerator to avoid trapping any moisture released as it warms. Protect the bare cheese from drying by covering it with a cheese dome, cake cover, or overturned bowl.

• Remove any paper or foil wrappers, but leave rinds in place. The rind is a natural wrap and is part of the visual appeal and integrity of the cheese.

• If a cheese is wrapped in plastic film when you buy it, unwrap it when you get it home. Plastic film smothers cheese, making it hard for it to breathe and give off moisture.

• High-moisture cheeses, such as Feta or fresh goat cheese, do well in an airtight plastic container. Otherwise, wrap all but the driest cheeses in waxed paper and place them in a lidded container. You can keep multiple cheeses in the same container, although blue cheeses should be kept separate to prevent their molds from traveling.

Peter Perez
Senior Marketing Manager

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