I read in the LA Times this week that pear season in Southern California is winding down. Which means these next few weeks might be my last best chance to enjoy local pears. The best way to highlight the last of the best of something is as simply as possible. I’ve decided to serve these pears in a cheese course: fresh, raw and simply paired. Cheese and pears. I’ve chosen Jarlsberg cheese because I almost always have it on hand. Any other Swiss-style, Emmental cheese will work just as well. As would something blue or green veined on the other end of the spectrum.
I love any excuse to serve a cheese course. Though I admit it’s not an everyday occurrence. In fact I’m far more likely to face a cheese plate before the meal begins, than as it winds down. Which doesn’t really make sense culinarily speaking. Big mouthfuls of fat can easily fill you up and numb the palate. Then again so can a big, brisk gin martini and you don’t hear me complaining about that.
It’s possible that the modern day cheese course got moved to the beginning of the meal because most folks prefer to end their meal with something sweet. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Even a simple cheese course consisting of nothing but cheese and pears can be special enough to end a casual meal, or act as a bridge to that sweet treat you know your guests are expecting.
Jarlsberg Cheese and Pears
Which means when it comes to an end of the meal cheese course I tend toward simplicity. Even a modest pairing of a single cheese with a lone fruit, nut or condiment can make a meal feel special. As long as the partners compliment each other. You might call this Jarlsberg cheese and pears a monogamous cheese course.
Of course, as with all things monogamous, you’ve got to keep the spark alive – so presentation counts. In this version I’ve sliced, stacked and reassembled the ingredients to keep this cheese and pear pairing simple, but unexpectedly seductive. GREG