Halloumi

Shutterstock

Hooked on Cheese: Cheeses for Football Season

No football party is complete without some great cheese

I love this time of year: summer grills are still afire, football’s in the air and the temperature is finally getting pleasant again. Add some snacks, beverages and cheese and it makes for a great chilled-out weekend. Add friends and you’ve got the perfect fall party.

A friend of mine invited me over to watch the big game with the gang last week and, naturally, he asked if I minded bringing cheese for the festivities. I know he was thinking I’d show up with my standard elegant cheese board, so I decided to mix it up a bit. I’d supply the cheese, but not the cheese he expected: I’d bring Football Cheeses. (But not this kind.)

When I rolled up to his place, the first thing I whipped out was some halloumi, a traditional goat-and-sheep’s milk blend from Cyprus. This is the perfect “grilling cheese” due to its high melting point, so I browned it on the charcoal grill along with some peppers, onions and mushrooms (all slightly charred for flavor) and added a drizzle of lemon-thyme vinaigrette. This is an easy dish to prepare – if you’re already planning on making burgers, just toss the cheese and veggies on the grill as it heats up for a satisfying appetizer. Tip: remember to go easy on the salt, since halloumi already has a distinctly salty tang.

Next, I pulled a big tub of pimento cheese out of my goodie bag. I confess I didn’t make my own, though it’s almost effortless: shred some good cheddar, mix it with mayo and add seasoning. But I was in laid-back mode so I secured my favorite version from Sweet Grass Dairy, made with their Thomasville Tomme, Duke’s mayo and roasted red peppers. After a bit of hesitation ­– the crowd couldn’t believe The Cheese Guy would bring cheese mixed with mayo to their party ­– they devoured a pound and a half of this award-winning spread in about 15 minutes. It was like watching Joey Chestnut eat hotdogs on the 4th of July. I stood back out of the way of the tub in fear for my fingers.

We had a couple of rounds of other tasty snacks before I started in on dessert. I halved some fresh local peaches, brushed them with butter and threw them on the grill. When they started to soften a touch, I flipped them over and slid a chunk of Le Chevrot into the pit hole of each. With a pure white interior and a tan wrinkly rind, this is one of my favorite French goats’ milk cheeses. As it softened from the heat and slumped into the center, I pulled them off the grill and topped them with a dash of Sauternes wine and a sprinkle of ground toasted pecans. I’ll admit that this was slightly fancy for a game day, but it went with the grilling theme and was light enough to consume after an afternoon of snacking. And just as I thought, everyone said the sweetness of the peach, the lemony cheese, the honeyed wine and the crunch of the pecans made for a memorable treat.

*                                  *                                  *

At the end of the day, my team lost the game; it happens. But I didn’t let it ruin an afternoon of football with good food and great friends.

You can follow Raymond's cheese adventures on Facebook, Twitter and his website. Additional reporting by Madeleine James. 

 

Related Links
Hooked on Cheese: Nettle Meadow's KunikHooked on Cheese: Four-Year RoomanoHooked on Cheese: A Beginner’s Guide to Buying and Storing CheeseHooked on Cheese: Accompaniments 101Hooked on Cheese: Ledyard