EASY ENTERTAINING | le CrÈmeux GIVEAWAY
When I entertain, I like there to be a main event--a centerpiece that speaks of abundance, but also ease: a signal to both me and my guests that there will be plenty here, but we can relax and settle into it without a lot of shuffling about. This main event should be made or purchased ahead, and can look like a giant pork shoulder braised to a juicy, succulent tenderness, or a bountiful wheel of cheese, a no-hold’s bar approach to the cheese platter that we’ve all grown to know and love. There’s no worry of leaving enough for the person to your right or your left, just a welcome mat to heartily enjoy.
When Emmi USA sent me an entire, glorious wheel of Kaltbach Le Cremeux, a semi-soft cheese aged in the deep, cool Kaltbach Cave in the Alpine Valley of Switzerland, my instinct to entertain kicked into high gear.
For starters, it’s not every day you have a whole wheel of cheese at home. When cheese comes from another country, in a wheel imported to a cheese shop or grocery, and is partitioned into smaller pieces, often wrapped in plastic, a slow death of flavor and texture. Further, in a cheese-loving family like ours, the small wedge doesn’t make it too far.
A whole wheel to enjoy, on the other hand, aged in a mineral rich cave near Lucerne, hand brushed with a cave wash so the nuanced flavor deepens as the cheese ages, is a true find. I held onto it lovingly for a few days, like a new piece of pottery, before I knew exactly how I wanted to let it best shine.
And then, it hit me. I didn’t want to shred or melt it, though, creamy as it is I knew it would sing. I didn’t want to cut it in cubes or even tuck it into sandwiches--as spectacular as that would make said sandwiches. I wanted my guests to taste it, enjoy it, indulge a little--like I had on a wheel of cheese on my own visits to Italy, France, Switzerland--cut straight from the source.
I put it on a cheese board, sliced into it and gave it a taste--creamy, unctious, nuanced but not overpowering. A delicate treat. I started arranging all our favorite nibbles around it--endive and radicchio, caper berries and melon. Thin slices of radish in every shape and size we had on hand. And then, as usual, I headed to the garden, gathering the greens and herbs that I knew would stand up to the cheese without overpowering: Kale, mint.
Quickly, I spun together garlic, kale, mint, olive oil, avocado--blended into an herbaceous green sauce. I swapped out my usual sourdough bread for a flatbread that would become the blank slate for layering open-faced tartines or toasts of individual fancy: a thick layer of green, thin slices of cheese, thinly sliced radish, pepper.
No one was around when I was preparing it, so I tested one out for myself, eating first an approving bite, then heartily inhaled a whole flat of it before eagerly making a second for my husband. He promptly devoured.
An hour later, friends gathered, we popped a few bottles of Beligan beer, cool and frothy; kids ran back and forth, nibbling, climbing, swinging--parents relaxed. This is the luxury I seek, the gift to presence I desire to give my friends and guests.
Easy entertaining at its best, and still some cheese leftover for our days ahead.
KALTBACH TARTINES WITH
CHUNKY MINT-KALE PESTO
3 packed cups curly or baby kale, stems removed
1 packed cup mint leaves
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 to 4 Tbsp olive oil
½ ripe avocado
¾ tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf sourdough or two large flatbreads
6 oz Kaltbach Le Cremeux, thinly sliced
4 to 6 radishes, thinly sliced
Add the kale, mint, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, avocado, sea salt, and pepper in a blender and pulse until it makes a chunky sauce (adding a tablespoon of water if needed to thin and get the blender going). Serve immediately or cover tightly with film or more oil (to preserve color) and keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
To serve, layer bread, green sauce and thin slices of Kaltbach cheese with shaved radishes and serve at room temperature.
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 10 MINUTES
MAKES ¾ CUP/ 5 OZ/ 130 G