A Cut Above: Choice Cheese Knives

Have you ever been to a holiday party where the cheese plate knives are all the same or inappropriately matched with the cheeses and you wind up digging with desperation with a butter knife to eek out a hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano? Have you? Ever?

Okay, well I can’t help you too much if you are an attendee (unless you are a daring guest with a pocket cheese knife), however if you are the one hosting, here’s how to avoid pairing a cheese with a knife that just doesn’t quite cut it. (BTW, these puns are inescapable when you are talking about cutting the cheese. Ahem. So be prepared when you go a-cheese-knife-shopping.)

From lower left, counterclockwise: campana, cuoro, semi-soft cheese knife, spreader, and cleaver.

 

Soft cheeses: For very young and soft cheeses, such as chêvre, or cheeses with a runny interior like a Robiola, choose a spreader. This type of knife looks a lot like a miniature butter knife.

Semi-soft cheeses: For firmer, but still soft cheeses, such a Camemberts or Champignon Mushroom, use a cheese knife with holes in it. The holes prevent the paste of the cheese from sticking to knife, allowing the structure of the cheese to be maintained.  Typically, these knives have two tines at the end, which you can use to skewer the cheese and serve. Both of these cheese knives can be found in most cheese knife sets.

Crumbly and firm cheeses: A campana is a knife with a wide bell-shaped blade, used to slice into firm cheeses or to break off cheeses that have a crumbly texture, such as blues like Stilton. A cheese plane (not pictured) is also an excellent tool for slicing firm cheeses like Emmental.

Hard cheeses: A cuore is a heart-shaped knife used to break off chunks of extra-hard cheese, such as a Parmigiano Reggiano or aged Cheddar. The cleaver is used to cube younger Cheddars and Swiss cheeses or cut cross-section wedges of Manchego.