Last week, I learned that BYOB is outdated. The new party rule I plan to implement on the regular: BYOC. My first trial run was terribly successful.
I was holding a party for an out of town friend and had no time to cook. The party was on a Wednesday during an insane work week and I needed a plan that would require zero prep time.
The idea came to me organically: everyone bring a wedge of cheese, the more unique, the better. The only odd thing about the plan was that I'd never thought of it before. I was expecting about 20 people. 20 selections of cheese? Insta-party. A no-brainer.
I set out all of my cheese boards, plus a couple of over-sized cutting blocks. I provided accoutrements, and guests did the unwrapping. Find an open spot on a cheese board, nestle in your wedge among the others, and settle in for a good time.
This won't be the last time I do this. It made for a seriously easy, seriously fun evening. Having so many selections of cheese made the party unique, since it's not often that a single party will boast dozens of cheeses.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Provide plenty of knives. Cross-contamination of cheeses makes for a messy cheese board and unwanted intermingling of flavors. Be generous with those serving utensils.
- With bread, keep it simple. Offer breads and crackers. Think plain baguette, fruit and nut bread, and some seeded crackers or flat breads.
- Bring on the sweets: Don't forget about some sweet spreads, like membrillo, sweet mustard, or fig jam. Sub in other sweet things that work well with cheese that are slightly unpredictable: Cherries in place of grapes, honeycomb in place of honey, and plenty of off-dry white wines.
- Save labels and keep them near, or at least tell each guest to remember what he brought. Write down what each cheese is so that people can find their favorites later.
What was the highlight? A raw milk taleggio from my cheese shop down the block. It was perfectly ripe, slightly funky. And this, perhaps, was the best part of the evening for me: Discovering something entirely new that I'd never tasted before, all the better because it was a friend's choosing.
(Image: Nora Singley)