A couple of days ago I came across this snippet in the New York Times Food section that opened with the line “The cheese course at Rebelle, a new French restaurant on the Bowery, recalls Paris.” If there are two things I love, one is cheese, the other is anything that recalls Paris. My husband and I still toast “to Paris” every cocktail hour, honoring our second visit to the famed city of lights & romance. That all-too-short visit was perfect in every way, including when he dropped two jumbo to-go cups of coffee all over the gorgeous mosaic floor in our boutique hotel’s lobby. “Zut alors!” he exclaimed to everyone’s surprise, which instantly brought on a “no worries” grin and some giggling from the young desk clerk. (Plus guaranteed us a funny note of full laughter in all our reminiscing ever since.)
So. Cheese. Paris. I read on.
The brief piece described how a course of shaved cheese—oh so French!—could be adapted to home entertaining. Simply put out a plate of cheese shavings with drinks. Tah-dah. You’re a star.
Well it’s true. And the best part for me is that one of the three cheeses listed as a possible stand in for the aged Comté served at Rebelle is Consider Bardwell’s Pawlet. Made right here in my home town by people I know, this is a cheese that can usually be found in my fridge. I get bonus points too for already owning a cheese shaver, which I purchased as a photography prop last fall from the Goodwill store for, get this, 50¢.
Needless to say when a trio of friends dropped in unexpectedly over Memorial Day weekend I knew exactly what to put out on the backyard table amidst our frosty IPAs and chardonnays. Chips and salsa? No. A little shaved Pawlet, a little shaved Grafton Village Cheddar, with some crusty bread and Garlic Oregano Mustard from Green Mountain Mustard for my husband…whose palette is, as we say in French, American.
Get yourself a cheese shaver and you’ll never be at a loss for quick, elegant, out of the ordinary appetizer or final dinner course. The paper thin slices are packed with flavor, served with or without bread or vegetables, and your guests, expected or otherwise, will feel like they’ve skipped off to Europe for just a little while.
Co-Author of Garden Candy Basics