12/09/2013 12:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Holiday Cheese Pairing Tips From Madame Fromage

There's a reason they call Tenaya Darlington, author of Di Bruno Brothers House of Cheese, Madame Fromage. As a cheese courtesan, she's an illicit lover of cheese and takes great joy in wontonly sharing all kinds of dairy love with her adoring fans. I mean, come on. How could everyone not love a woman of the curd?

Since it's officially December and I've been receiving a ton of emails from my readers asking what to do with cheese during this holiday season, Tenaya was kind enough to offer up a little advice for you, my favorite cheese lovers out there in Internet Land. Here you go, a handful of stellar cheese tips straight from the Madame Fromage herself:

  1. When you're putting together a cheese board for a party, take one giant risk. Pick a brainy little goat cheese, a zingy blue, or something wrapped in tobacco leaves -- every cheese board needs a conversation piece. Trust me, it's the one thing everyone will remember in the morning.
  2. Don't be afraid to pair cheese and gin. Yes, I said "gin." If you're a martini drinker, tuck into a salty Pecorino with a side of almonds and plump green olives. Gin is such a friend to firm sheep's milk cheese. My dessert island wedge is Pecorino Ginepro (it's soaked in balsamic and laced with juniper), and it pairs beautifully with gin and tonics and gin martinis. Sometimes I take Pecorino Ginepro to the movies with me, along with a little flask of Barr Hill Gin. I can't help it. It's better than soda and popcorn.
  3. Know thy cheesemonger. Just pretend she's a ranger, walking you through the wilderness. Don't be afraid to show fear, ask for help, or solicit advice on the wildest creatures in the case. My favorite thing to ask a cheesemonger is, "So, what hunk did you take home last night?"
Check out Tenaya's book, Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese. It's an epic cheese tome made for cheese newbies and dairy aficionados alike.


About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. (Available now). Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts. She also publishes a monthly culinary newsletter full of stories, review, and helpful tips.