how to cut a cheese?
It’s not just a matter of appearance, it’s about offering the customer a complete taste experience
In the last issue we talked about cheese knives, so the next question comes easily: how to cut cheeses?
We gave some hints in the article dedicated to the suggestions on how to compose a cheeseboard - it was September 2019.
Here we are again and we apologise for not deepen the topic in that occasion but we needed the right space and an appropriate introduction about the tools. Now we are ready.
Why is it so important to know how to cut a cheese properly? Because it is a part of the tasting!
Serving a piece of badly cut cheese would not allow the customer to appreciate the characteristics, it would not meet expectations and would make the tasting experience unsatisfying.
And we’re sure that you would not want to reserve such a treatment to your customer... and neither to the cheese!
To properly cut a cheese we cannot take as reference a specific etiquette (also because it doesn’t exist!) so it will be essential to use a lot of sensitivity and common sense!
First of all we must be sure that the cheese is correctly matured, and then we should ask ourselves why we are going to cut it: service at the counter of slices? Single portions to be tasted at the table?
The answer to this question will change the approach: in the first case, the slice must satisfy the customer’s requests and at the same time allow him to fully enjoy the cheese at home. In the table service the portions will be small, visually pleasant and balanced.
Although the approach changes, the purpose remains the same: we must create portions that allow to taste the cheese at its best and in all its parts, from the crust to the heart of the paste, so as to appreciate the differences in texture, aroma and flavour.
To carry out this operation with awareness we must know the cheese we’re going to cut and its organoleptic characteristics.
Let’s repeat it again: it won’t be enough to create regular portions in terms of size or to have the only interest in safeguarding the remaining cheese (even though we should not forget this aspect as well!), but to ensure a taste experience at the customer by serving him a fair cheese portion, in terms of taste and texture.
We will have to take the time to reflect on the best cut technique: the suggestion is to start from the geometric shape of the cheese and then think about the characteristics of the paste and the distribution of flavours.
And the geometric shape is the feature that we will use to divide the cheeses into categories and give you some advice, taking for granted the choice of the suitable knife.
1 | PARALLELEPIPED SHAPE
For example soft cheeses, such as stracchino or Squacquerone. We suggest to use the spatula or to cut in slices if the texture permits it. Abruzzino should also be served in slices because of its parallelepiped like shape.
2 | CYLINDRICAL SHAPE
The best example is the Saint Maure, to be cut in slices. For cheeses that refer to the same shape but with larger size, such as Blue de Moncenis, it is possible to section the round slice into wedges to obtain single portions.
3 | TRUNCATED CONE SHAPE
Small goat cheeses but we could also add ricotta to this category due to the similar shape. The cut is made in vertical wedges.
4 | OVAL SHAPE
Let’s talk about caciocavallo with head or not, for example Caciocavallo Irpino or Provolone del Monaco.
The shape could put you in difficulty, but just cut the cheese in half and then proceed in wedges, as if it were an orange.
To obtain single portions: take the wedge and cut it perpendicularly obtaining triangular portions.
5 | SQUARE SHAPE
For example Taleggio for which we have to let appreciate the proteolysis near the rind.
We suggest to start from the fourth and cut it in 3 wedges keeping as reference for the cut the internal tip that will be the vertex of the triangles.
We do not recommend to cut into parallel slices because you have to manage the waste of the last slice.The wedges allow a much prudent as well as fair management! For single portions we suggest (again) to start from the fourth and cut small triangles organized in the direction of the diagonal line.
6 | ROUND SHAPE, SMALL SIZE
This is the case of Brie, Camembert, robiola and small cheeses in general. Also these ones should be cut in wedges as if it were a cake, so as to make sure to serve in fair parts both rind and paste.
7 | ROUND SHAPE, MEDIUM TO BIG SIZE
For single portions, just remove the crust from the top and bottom face of the single wedge, then lie it down and cut it into slices, obtaining small triangles.
If the cheese is a long aged one, we take a pecorino cheese for example, instead of cutting it you can split it with the help of an almond shape knife (“rock cut”, like the hand cut of Parmigiano) so as to enhance its natural grainy texture
Since we are talking about medium / large round cheeses we cannot fail to mention the blue cheeses.
For these we must consider a slightly different approach due to the fragility of the paste and the distribution of the blue veins.
Let’s take Gorgonzola Piccante as example, that you probably will receive in fourths or eighths of the wheel.
For counter service just cut normal slices while the single portions will be obtained by cutting the slice in a radial direction thus obtaining smaller wedges.
In this way, you will ensure to create similar portions in terms of blue veins, a feature that generally develops more in the central part of the wheel. It is useless to remember that Gorgonzola Dolce will be served with a spoon if its texture is very creamy.
8 | ROUND SHAPE, VERY BIG SIZE
Here we are with those cheeses that, if they went to school, they would have had to sit in the back row due to the considerable size!
Let’s start with hard and grainy paste cheeses, such as Parmigiano.
The technique we recommend is to split the cheese by creating fractures on the rind and in the paste, with the help of almond shape knives, to obtain smaller and smaller fractions until you get many small segments: in this way the texture will be enhanced by the cutting technique
For the service of single portions, however, you go with flakes.
Completely different is the technique used for large cheeses with compact paste, such as Gruyère or Comté: from the wheel you obtain half, quarters, eighths and sixteenths (which despite being fractions are always of considerable size!).
For counter service the fractions will be portioned by starting to cut the tip first and then a couple of further slices in sequence.
What remains will be cut into slices in the opposite direction.
The single portions are then obtained from the slice: lie it down and cut a couple of pieces (rectangular portions) in the direction of the heel, while the rest will be cut in a radial direction obtaining triangle slices so as to distribute to all the customers the same amount of crust and also to avoid waste.
Marketing e Comunicazione