Cutting the Cheese: Getting to Know Your Cheese Knives + Giveaway

Thursday, April 29, 2010

-Cutting the cheese has never been easier.-

I enjoy good cheese knives, they add style to any cheese plate and give your a guests a chance to use an intriguing and often endearingly new kitchen tool. Still, knowing what knife does what is key to figuring out what you plan to serve and how to best assist your guests in consuming the spoiled milky goodness served before them.


Soft Cheese Knife
The name of this cheese knife can be a bit misleading as it works wonderfully on soft, semi-soft, and some semi-hard cheeses as well. The design of the knife is created for maximum efficiency and little stress. The blade is extremely thin and often cut with wide holes to prevent the cheese from sticking. This allows the knife to easily slice through tacky and sticky soft cheeses like Camambert, Brie, almost all blue cheeses, and slightly firmer cheeses like Appenzeller. In a pinch it also does a fine job of cutting the rinds off of firm and hard cheeses. The tines at the end allow you to skewer and serve slices of cheese with deft precision.


Hard Cheese Knife
Stout and heavy for its size this knife is also known as a Parmesan knife. It's designed not for clean slices but cutting through the cracks and crystals of hard cheeses to wedge off snackable chunks. The knife has a reliable heft to it and encourages a bit of roughness when breaking apart a good wedge of Piave or Sea Hive.


Cheese Spreader
Overlooked and under-appreciated the cheese spreader is one I love for its simplicity in design and use. Those super runny cheeses like Epoisses, Robiola, and soft cheeses like Brillat-Savarin require a good cheese spreading knife. It easily controls and spreads softer cheeses across bread and crackers where other cheese knives would fail miserably. A butter knife is essentially the same thing, so if you have one you're good to go.


Cheese Plane
The most unique of the cheese knives, the cheese plane is great for creating thin, delicate slices of hard cheeses for cheese plates, sandwiches, and snacks. Whereas a hard cheese knife cuts off good snacking chunks, the plane creates perfect thin slices using a lowered micro-serrated blade. Look for one with a handle that won't slip out of your hand and a good thick blade that's well sharpened; be warned that a cheap one will go dull quickly. Perfect for Parmesan and Cheddars.

There are also cheese slicers which do a fine job of cutting apart cheese as well, but I find it's best to have one of those if you're only planning to serve lots of cheese a lot of the time. I consume a lot, but I have yet to find a real need for one (though sometimes I can see slicing clean wedges of Pecorino Romano much easier with it).

Of course, cheese knives aren't necessary or mandatory. They're tools that simply make cheese service easier for yourself and your guests, add aesthetic value, and are more fun to use than a regular knife. If you serve and eat a lot of cheese then it might give your cheese plates a little extra flair and set you apart as a dedicated student to the art of cheese.

Knowing the fun of having a wicked cheese knife I can't not give the rest of you the opportunity to have a great knife of your own. I'm offering one of Crate and Barrel's soft cheese knives to a lucky reader. It's a sharp blade with a stylish design and the one I use most often. To win, simply leave a comment about what cheese you would serve with it. Please, only one comment per person. No shipping outside of the United States. Contest ends on May 4th and the winner will be announced on May 5th.

83 comments:

  1. I am not eligible for you contest here in Germany...just wanted to say, great info for avoiding cheese plate mishaps! Our preferred tool at home is the wire cutter version but usually used only for jung Gouda.

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  2. I could definitely use set of cheese knives! I'd use them on a nice Spanish Mahon.

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  3. This amazing triple cream they sell at the best deli in Hyded Park. I can never remember the name, so I always tell the cheese guy "That, uh, soft, creamy, kind of smells like feet but tastes soooo good...." And he says "of course!" and wraps me up a chunk!

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  4. I would love cheese knives. I really like fontina..so creamy and great with Italian or Mexican dishes.

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  5. being a bit uncultured (and a student!) I would use it with brie and cheddar. And any and all other cheeses I will ever come in contact with. Watch out! :D

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  6. Garrett,
    Its very generous of you to offer this contest. Thanks!
    I love that type of cheese knife, and I would use it with almost any of Spring Hill's lovely cheeses or a wonderful triple cream brie...

    I hope I win.

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  7. Thanks for the cheese knife tutorial! As far as soft cheeses go, Humboldt fog is one of my favorites. St. Andre was my favorite until I looked at the calorie content! 0.o

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  8. I recently hosted a small goat cheese tasting and our local cheese shop had just run out of the Humboldt Fog, about which you raved. I would use the knife on that!

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  9. I'd use it on something sheepy, perhaps goaty.

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  10. Brie most definitely! However, it would be such a pretty addition to my modest knife collection and probably would push me to try something new!

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  11. I'm a triple cream whore, so I'd probably use that knife on a velvety Brillat-Savarin.

    (and I totally giggled when I saw the header "cheese spreader." huh huh uh huh uh huh)

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  12. Ooh, there are few cheeses that I don't love... I've been craving caprese salad recently, so fresh mozzarella would be at the top of the list, as well as some really fantastic locally made chevre.

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  13. I would use the knife to cut Coach Farms Triple Creme Goat Cheese. It is my favorite cheese on the planet, but very hard to come by where I live =(

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  14. I'm not very well versed in the land of cheeses, so I'd start out serving brie.

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  15. Recently fell in love with Valencay...gorgeous cheese that could be a prime candidate for a soft cheese knife!

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  16. I never knew this type of knife existed for soft cheeses and would simply use 2 knives to cut them - one to cut and the other to scrape the cheese off the first knife into something resembling a serving. Gosh, I would use it on every single cheese I ever buy, fresh Mozz, goat cheeses, creamy Bries, Camemberts, even Muenster sticks to my current knife.

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  17. Without a doubt, I would serve a nice chunk of Humboldt Fog. Great post!

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  18. I think it would be great for slicing and serving taleggio.

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  19. Wow, my favorite cheese is Edam, but I would not minding slicing some good Camembert with the soft cheese knife.

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  20. great post. I eat so many different kinds of cheese and have never had a set of cheese knives. They would go to good use at our house. My cheese of choice right now is Prima Donna Gouda..so that's what I would use them for this week.

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  21. no doubt i would use it with my homemade mozzarella,yum, pass the fresh basil

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  22. Probably Camembert, because that's what's sounding tasty to me right now. Yummmm. I am an equal opportunity cheese lover though, so I'd probably be using it willy-nilly on all sorts of bricks, wheels, and chunks.

    That being said, I have been loving the cheese posts. Except for the fact that they make me hungry for some dairy goodness.

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  23. Chevre. Always, chevre. I just received a cool slate cheese board as a wedding gift, and I really ought to get some knives to go with it.

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  24. Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk. HEAVEN!

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  25. So I've been the victim of cheese-knife mishaps, due to my willful ignorance of my mother's admonitions to 'use the right tool for the right job'. Several years ago, I used a cheese plane on some not-quite-hard enough cheese (a gouda, i believe). and off came some of my skin. A couple of months later, I tried the cheese plane on a (more appropriate) cheddar. And I repeated the mistake. The lasting scar at the base of my thumb is a testament to using cheese knives properly. So this post is fabulously useful, and clarifies my cheese-cutting concerns.

    But yes. There are so many choices, but when it comes down to it, Humboldt fog is really the cheese of choice. But it's already taken by some of your other readers with excellent taste, so I'm going to have to go with a nice Cambazola...

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  26. Forever and always, I would use it on Havarti. A creamy, melt in your mouth Havarti.

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  27. Hmmm.... I'm just starting to explore the world of cheese.... have found a love for brie, so that would probably be its first use.

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  28. I know this is probably cliche, but my all time favorite soft cheese is brie ... mmmm. So, I'd probably use it to serve brie most often :P

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  29. I would use this knife for camambert, my love's favorite cheese on our cheese platters! He always has to wrestle with a regular small sharp knife, and this cheese knife would be the perfect anniversary gift.

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  30. Fresh mozzarella. I can't cut it without making an ugly blob.

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  31. um, any cheese i can possibly get my grubby little hands on? i <3 cheese.

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  32. Mmmm, maybe a humbolt fog, or a roaring forties for my hubby, or a nice nutty gouda with some salt crystals in. Nom nom

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  33. Lately I'm liking goat milk Camemberts, such as Redwood Hill's Camellia. What a beautiful knife - thanks for the giveaway!

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  34. I'd go with an Ossau-Iraty myself

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  35. Baked brie w/ brown sugar & dried cranberries!

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  36. what cheese WOULDN'T i serve with these? taleggio, humboldt fog, sarvecchio, cabrales, bucheron... mmm.

    cheers,

    *heather*

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  37. Ooooh cheese! I would use it on Camembert first because, I just love it. I fell in love with it in France and I haven't kicked the habit yet :)

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  38. I have to admit, I don't own any cheese-specific knives (aside from the novelty cheese spreaders I received as a gift), but I LOVE Brie, and would definitely use a soft cheese knife for Brie.

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  39. if i had a lovely cheese knife, i would use it on a bit of smoked brie...it's my latest obsession!

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  40. You can't go wrong with delicious extra sharp cheddar cheese!

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  41. What a fabulous and practical post! I would definitely use the knife with a smooth, creamy Goat Milk Brie =)

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  42. oooh wow...I LOVE cheese...all of em and It will be so much fun to use it for any the varieties!But my fav i guess would have to probably be mozzarella or blue maybe..

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  43. North Valley Farms chevre or humbodt blue

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  44. Goat cheese, sheep's milk cheese, and blue. I love them all and I have been thoroughly enjoying your posts reviewing different types of cheese.

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  45. I would serve it with baked brie in phyllo dough :)

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  46. Brie cheese... Oh god. So delicious!

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  47. Oh, Jackie stole mine. Mmmmm, Humboldt Fog. Or a nice Hudson Valley Nancy Camembert...

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  48. Brie, my First Love and continuing Passion. I'm talking Brie straight-up out of the package. (Who needs crackers or fruit? I mean, I like them, but a wedge of Brie and Hello Dolly! and I'm one happy camper.)

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  49. I'm sucha dork, I love Brie cheese w/ some crusty bread and wine.... makes me wanna have a picnic right about now...

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  50. We have been discovering local blue cheese lately, so that is what I would serve. Thanks for the great giveaway!

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  51. Last week, my grocery store put out samples of Gourmandise Kirsch, and it was so good that I had to take some home with me! It's a smooth, soft, creamy white cheese that tastes like cherries. Definitely the type of cheese that requires a fancy knife!

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  52. Mmmmm...Domaigne du Village brie and/or one of the super creamy Rosenborg Blues.

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  53. I'd use it on my English Wensleydale and have a glass or two (oh hell a whole bottle) of Gew├╝rztraminer.

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  54. Parmesan reggiano, a classic :)

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  55. Oooh, tallegio - the only cheese my grandfather will allow for serving atop steamy polenta. The season for polenta's ending, sure, but tallegio's delicious all the time.

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  56. I adore my semi-soft and semi-hard cheeses, which is what I would probably use it on. :D

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  57. I would definitely use for robiola, or recently, I'm a huge fan of Humboldt Fog goat cheese!

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  58. Although I've never met a cheese I didn't like...the most guilty pleasure of my existence is setting down with a well-aged chunk of Limburger.

    Soft, creamy and guaranteed to knock your socks off! Oh wait... that odor IS my socks !

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  59. I would most definitely use the soft cheese knife for some brie. Nothing like a brie, pesto, and bacon grilled cheese. As far a hard cheeses go, I've really been digging Parrano lately. Onto the cheese plane - the first time I ever saw one was when my friend from Norway's mother brought one over with her after he complained about the wire cheese cutters. He was so excited to slice his gjetost with what I started calling a "Norwegian cheese slicer."

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  60. Fresh asiago, or very sharp cheddar. Having trouble posting comment, so if dupes, my apologies.

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  61. I love fresh mozzarella. So that'd be the first one...

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  62. Definitely would serve my personal favorite cheese, Humboldt Fog.

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  63. I think with a fancy knife like that I might actually bother to cut the brie before transporting it to my ass. :)

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  64. I'm a Brie gal through and through and my cheese spreader is nearly as dear to me as I expect my first child will one day be.

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  65. Triple cream goats milk brie is my current favorite...

    And any sort of bleu is always good.

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  66. We thought I was allergic to cheese and then my fabulous allergist let me know that I was not. It may have actually been the best news I had heard in a LONG time! When I thought I was allergic I would walk around the Whole Foods in Bellevue, WA cheese section and just drool. Then I got the call about my results and IMMEDIATELY went out to buy some fresh Parmesan. It was AMAZING!!!

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  67. Garrett, our family loves Brie - but the inaugural slice would be with my daughter's favorite, which is Champignon Mushroom Brie. Served with roasted veges on a hearty wheat bread and topped with a little garlic aioli. yum.

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  68. I'm a cheese noob so I'd try it on some soft brie.

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  69. I just discovered a new cheese at our local food co-op, Brebirousse D’Argental. It has jumped ahead of Brie as my 'occasional indulgence' cheese.

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  70. Beautiful knife - I'd definitely use it on a brie, preferably a triple cream!

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  71. I would serve my favorite cheeses, humboldt fog and north valley chevre herbs de provence.

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  72. Cowgirl's Red Hawk or any triple cream!

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  73. Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Chevre--So good!

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  74. I'd use the knife to serve some Humboldt fog!

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  75. I've never owned a cheese knife before! I don't each cheese myself, but the other members of my household do... they would probably use this for some kind of parmesan.

    -annalene
    email address is visible in profile

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  76. This was extremely helpful. I am starting to enjoy various kinds of cheeses, but until now I hadn't a clue what the different knives were for. I would use these ones on Rogue Creamery's Smokey Blue cheese.

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  77. The best knives ever and the knives that I bought for my kitchen came from KaTom, a restaurant equipment store. Here is the link to them

    http://www.katom.com/chef-butcher-kitchen-knives.html

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Hey, you're leaving a comment! That's pretty darn cool, so thanks. If you have any questions or have found an error on the site or with a recipe, please e-mail me and I will reply as soon as possible.
~Garrett

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