Chilled Cheddar, Your Salad Will Thank You.

Chilled Cheddar. Your salad will be grateful. A knowledgeable cheesemonger will tell you flat out that eating cold cheese straight from the fridge is a poor idea. We’re often told to take those wedges out of the fridge an hour before serving because the texture of Stilton or Manchego is too firm and the flavour is too subdued for our overworked taste buds when they’re cold. All of this is something I believe in, especially when it comes to assembling a good cheese platter for a group or even for solo enjoyment.

Cheese’s particular scents bloom as it approaches our body temperature, and its texture softens and becomes spreadable, not just on a cracker but also on our tongue. A Gruyère can have a savoury, bone-marrow-like aroma, whereas a washed-rind cheese can be very yeasty (and smelly, even harsh) and spreadable like butter. However, serving chilled cheese, especially when it’s really, really cold—like straight from the freezer—can be excellent.

I wouldn’t recommend serving an entire frozen wheel of Fromager d’Affinois brie. C’mon! In small, thin slices, aged cheddar or even a velvety blue cheese can easily lift up a salad. Even a simple scattering of prepared frisée may become enhanced with a few well-placed curls of chilled cheddar.

In this salad, chilled, thin cheddar shavings keep things light and fresh while breaking the cheese’s customary strong tang and nuttiness into smaller, more agitated spurts. In contrast to the tangle of wild mustard-dressed frisée, the initial taste will be delightful, cooling, and light. Chilled cheddar has a solid texture that gives way to a momentarily chilly body, but as it heats and melts, it’s like tasting the cheddar’s metamorphosis, from light and crisp to soft and melty.

The chilly tang of chilled cheddar provides a refreshing contrast to the stinging greens in this salad. Each forkful consists of a tangy mustard vinaigrette–dressed leaf salad topped with cooling, sharp, and eventually soft cheese pieces.

Because we live in a hot world (and kitchens are hot rooms), you’ll want to serve this salad right away—at least the cheese portion. The salad can be dressed up to 20 minutes ahead of time. However, as soon as the cheese shavings are removed from the freezer, get that salad to the table as soon as possible because the chilling effect is just temporary.

Some of my closest friends are cheesemongers, but remember that they have a monopoly on cheese, not salads, the next time you approach them for salad advice.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here