A Bit of Brie
"Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." -- G. K. Chesterton
We so enjoyed the perfectly grilled steaks at a very nice French restaurant with our good friend Fabrice. He, however, could not wait for the arrival of the cheese cart. When the Cheese Sommelier brought the samples to the table, Fabrice happily spoke at length over the special attributes of each cheese. Finally he selected the perfect little morsels to conclude the entree part of the meal.
Gesturing in that very excitable way that is so French…or at least so very Fabrice, he noted that it is the rare French meal that does not include cheese. In an informal family meal, a cheese board signals the gradual end of the meal. In a more lavish meal, the cheese board comes before dessert to cleanse the palate and prepare the way for the fruit or sweet.
When you made the decision to count calories in order to reach your weight goal, did you feel like you had to give up cheese completely? It is, after all high in fat, very calorie dense with most types of cheese hovering around the 100 calories per ounce mark. Depending on the type of cheese you select, it will provide about 14% of your daily allowance of fat in that single little bitty ounce.
Draconian elimination of a delicious food group (and I consider cheese a food group unto itself) does not sit well with me. Instead, I learned to put mindful focus on each one ounce square of cheese as a stand alone star element of the meal - and enjoy the extra calcium and protein as a bonus. Rather than yearning for cheese in vast quantities - the several cups of cheddar in a casserole or a mountain of mozzarella on a pizza - a well savored cheese satisfies my taste buds as well that loud food craving bud that insists on cheese.
Create a cheese course for your next meal by building a small cheese board. In this way you can eat well, eat traditionally, count calories, AND eat a little bit of cheese. Read more about how to make cheese boards at the Mindful Palate.
For a typical French cheese board, mix samples of the three major categories of cheese: soft cow’s milk, goat’s milk cheese, and ewe’s milk. Three ounces of cheese - one of each type - will be plenty. Your mix might include Camembert, Brie, and Roquefort, but as there are over 350 types of French cheeses, this is a great time to try something new. If you are serving the cheese board as the main course after a delicious bowl of Green Bean and Potato Soup, add a bowl of beautiful leaf lettuces tossed with the Dijon vinaigrette, slice up a chunk of crusty French bread to provide a vehicle for the cheese, and the total calories for your dinner is only 660 calories.
A delicious Italian cheese board might include a Fontina, Gorgonzola, and a Parmigiana Reggiano (my personal fave!). Enjoy with a nice bowl of Minestrone Soup and a slice of garlic toast, all for only 627 calories. With nutrition this high and calories so low, go ahead and have another bowl of that wonderful veggie filled soup.
This is a terrific website to visit and learn more about cheese. It also offers ideas on building a more complex cheese board and a cheese etiquette section that is particularly interesting. Do you break the cheese rules?
Vegan? No problem. This interesting and enterprising company makes Tree Nut Cheese and all the reviews I have read say they make some of the best cheese in the world - even though technically, it’s not “real” cheese. Instead they created Artisanal Vegan cheese that does not even try to imitate anything else.
Experiment with pairing soups, salads, fruit, and cheese until you get the combination you love.
If you are from a culture that loves and knows cheese, please contribute your ideas on when and what type of cheese should be served with a meal. Do you like to try new cheeses? Do you prefer pungent or mild cheese? If you are here to gain weight, have you added more cheese to your diet? If you are Vegan, do you know of a wonderful cheese replacement to suggest? If you love to write poetry, can you write an Ode to Cheese? Do you have a recipe for consideration at the CC Palate? If you do, pm it to me here. Enjoy your cheese!