How to Host an Apple Pairing Party

Entertaining, How-To, In Season
on October 5, 2011
Basket of Apples
Mark Boughton Photography

With more than 2,500 varieties of apples thriving in the U.S. this fall, there are endless delicious possibilities for partaking of the not-so-forbidden fruit—and what a charming idea for a friendly get-together with fellow foodies. Here, food blogger and cookbook author Domenica Marchetti offers her favorite pairings and a few simple recipes to bring your party together in no time.

Apple + Cheese Pairings

Display cheeses on a large slab or cheese board, and fan apple slices around them. Select three cheese varieties, and provide a separate cutting or spreading knife for each. The pairing possibilities are infinite but here are some of my favorites:

  • A robust, creamy‐crumbly aged cheddar such as Fiscalini bandaged cheddar paired with a crisp, sweet‐tart apple, such as Honeycrisp.
  • A gorgeous blue cheese, such as Achelse Blauwe, from Belgium, (or spicy Mountain Gorgonzola from Italy) with a tart apple, such as Granny Smith or Newtown Pippin (one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apples), or perhaps the sweet‐tart Pink Lady.
  • Chaource or another rich triple‐crème cheese with a lightly flavored sweet apple, such as Golden Delicious or Gala.

Tasting Recipes

Spinach Salad with Fresh and Dried Apples, White Cheddar, and Bacon:  Toss together fresh baby spinach leaves with chopped dried apple pieces and thin slices of apples, such as Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp or McIntosh. Sprinkle with bits of crispy bacon and toss with a vinaigrette made from bacon drippings and red or white wine vinegar. Crumble aged white cheddar on top. Serve in a large decorative bowl with small plates stacked nearby.

Apple and Prosciutto Carpaccio:  Arrange very thin slices of imported Prosciutto di Parma on a ceramic serving platter. Top with paper‐thin slices of unpeeled apple. Choose a sweet, crisp variety such as Fuji or a crisp, sweet‐tart variety such as Cameo, which resists browning, or Pink Lady. Scatter a few shavings of imported Parmigiano‐Reggiano over the apple slices and finish with a few drops of walnut oil and fresh ground black pepper.

Apple Sorbet:  This is a fresh alternative to apple pie, and an elegant addition to an apple tasting party. You can make the sorbet using several varieties of apples, or—if you are feeling particularly ambitious—make a trio of sorbets, each spotlighting a single variety. Choose highly flavored apples, such as Honeycrisp, Newtown Pippin and Ginger Gold. Combine chopped apples with cider or apple juice, sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook until the apples are tender. Puree in a blender and chill; then freeze in an ice cream maker.

Apple Beverages: Serve both cold hard cider, and hot mulled cider spiced with cinnamon. Keeping the mulled cider on the stovetop will perfume the entire house and add to the inviting atmosphere of your apple tasting party.

—By Domenica Marchetti, courtesy of the U.S. Apple Association