HomeLifestyleMy Not-Fancy-But-Fancy Cheese Party Trick

My Not-Fancy-But-Fancy Cheese Party Trick

the best cheese for dinner parties

the best cheese for dinner parties

As someone who once taught a class entirely devoted to Night Cheese, I love (LOVE) a cheese plate. But you know what’s easier and more statement-making than a cheese plate? Just serving one big cheese.

Not any cheese can stand alone, though. For a cheese to go solo, it must be so delicious that party guests don’t even realize that there is only one cheese option available. And it needs to be physically big — if it’s going to be in the spotlight, it shouldn’t be shy about taking up space.

Think cheeses like the gooey-mustardy Harbison (bring it to room temp!), the is-this-just-butter St. Stephen, or a straight-up hunk of Parm.

But my favorite One Big Cheese? Cabot Creamery’s three-year aged cheddar, specifically the massive two-pound block from Costco.

This cheese does it all. It sits beautifully in that Venn diagram between “oh, this tastes like something I know” and “oh, this is slightly unfamiliar in a really pleasant way.” Last month, I served it (with crackers) at my son’s fifth birthday party. Adults were coming up to me the whole party, asking about what the “fancy” cheese was and sharing how much they loved it. Kids were horfing it down, too.

Imagine your standard grocery-store cheddar if it were slightly caramelized or kissed by a grill. It’s nutty and nuanced, yet extremely cheddar-y. I’ve never met anyone who can resist.

If I dare serve another cheese to my five-year-old, he immediately asks why I didn’t give him “the good cheddar” (like mother, like son?). And my two-year-old happens to love it almost as much as he loves another massive Costco purchase: this giant jar of capers.

But this cheddar is not just a party cheese. Since it’s aged for so long, it has a long shelf life (low moisture!), so it can stay in the fridge for months (helpful, given its size but, uh, we still get through it pretty quickly). I’ve used it for countless WFH lunches — as a quick quesadilla or grating it over whatever leftovers need a bit of oomph. Dress it up, dress it down, Cabot 3-Year Cheddar is the little black dress of big-box warehouse dairy.

The best cheese for dinner parties

What do you serve at gatherings? Any pro tips? We also love an easy dinner party and mildly chaotic brunch!

Carey Polis is an editorial consultant and content strategist who lives in Washington, D.C., with her spouse and two sons. She also has a newsletter: Cheese, Book, Restaurant, Thing.

P.S. A handy guide to creating a perfect cheese plate, birthday cheese, and the best party snack of all time.

(Photos by David Williams for Cup of Jo.)

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