Many couples who have been diving into wedding planning over the past year have come across the infamous “cheese cake” wedding cake. Not a cheesecake, the kind with a graham cracker crust and that you can get at factories across America, but a “cheese cake.” A “cheese cake” has tiers of cheese wheels, decorated with fruit and flecked with herbs like rosemary. These sugar-free wedding cakes delight the hearts and palates of newlywed cheese lovers. They also offering something for those who don’t like, or can’t have, sweet things (we see you low-carb and keto people!). But we think this new trend might be fueled by a bit more than changing tastes. That’s right. We’re onto you. You just want a parm wheel to take home at the end of the night!
Creating A Parm Wheel
Just in case you don’t know what a parm wheel is, it’s a giant wheel of parmesan cheese (surprise!). Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano is always made in wheel form. It can also only be made in particular provinces in Italy including Parma, Reggio Emilia, and other select areas within other regions – similarly to Champagne versus sparkling wine. This isn’t to say parmesan cheese as a type of cheese cannot be made outside of these areas, but legally it cannot be called Parmigiano-Reggiano, and within the European Union, nothing outside of these areas can even be named parmesan (this rule does not apply in Canada). So just like Champagne, real-deal Parmigiano-Reggiano can have a hefty price tag.
This incredibly popular cheese choice is sharp, firm, and has a complex and robust flavour. The only additive throughout the cheese-making process is salt, which is added when the wheel is brined for twenty days. Then, after brining, the cheese matures for two entire years before it is ready to consume.
If you were wondering, a standard wheel of parmesan cheese weighs in at around 72-82 lbs which is roughly the size of an average fourth grader.
More Than You Can Chew
Now, you are entirely within your rights to enjoy the other tiers of cheese at your wedding, then take it home all for yourself (the team at Wedding Guide Mag is, however, worried for your poor stomach). We know that anyone considering a “cheese cake” has wanted to try out cheese wheel pasta for themselves, for instance, which you need a whole cheese wheel to make. And the idea of being able to grate endless fresh parm onto every dish is an exciting one for cheese lovers everywhere. But 80 lbs of cheese is a lot of cheese. A lot a lot of cheese. And while parm does freeze well (especially if you shred or grate it beforehand and vacuum seal it), that would still be enough cheese to make 2,160 servings of mac and cheese!
What we would recommend is sharing the wealth, and maybe exploring some other cheeses along the way.
While the other tiers on your “cheese cake” can be turned into a delightful cheese board for dessert, once you have cut the “cake,” the parm wheel can be cut, wrapped, and distributed to guests as their party favour! That will still leave you with a substantial bit of parm to take home and enjoy with your new spouse, without the fear of it going bad. (Considering the lowest price online for an entire wheel of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano is from Costco and clocks in at $900.00, you don’t want it to go bad!).
Everything Cheese with Good Cheese
Creating a cheese board or selecting the cheeses that will make up each tier of your “cheese cake” can seem overwhelming. The world of cheese, however, is much more approachable than you may have been led to believe. We spoke with Luke Champion, the Co-Owner of Good Cheese, a full-service cheese shop and wine bar in the heart of East Chinatown in Toronto. They create cheese trays that taste as good as they look and host a delightful fondue experience on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Luke talked to us about creating a balanced cheeseboard, as well as letting us in on a few of his crowd-pleasing favourites.
“We’re very excited about the “cheese cake” trend,” Luke told us, and to prove that they are real things, he confirmed, “[we] have a few coming up for fall weddings.”
They also have plenty to say on the topic of cheese boards and platters. “To me,” Luke explained, “the important thing in a balanced cheese board is variety. You want to have a really interesting mix of flavours, textures, and colours. So, for example, I like to use a rich and gooey soft cheese alongside something maybe harder and sharp and then perhaps something firm and a little funky to round the edges. Then you fill it in with fresh and dried fruits, nuts, pickles, crackers.” One thing that Luke stressed was making sure you hit all the bases, as he said, “Chewy, crunchy, sweet, sour, etc.”
The Cream of the Crop
Cheese is something where people’s opinions can be divided. Everyone has that one friend who would gladly polish off an entire brick of blue brie by themselves and that other friend whose favourite cheese is marble. So, what’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser? “One of the most popular cheeses in our shop, and probably – at least, to me – one of the most delicious things in the world, is Delice de Bourgogne. It’s a triple cream, surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese from France that has the texture of whipped butter.” We’re already sold on it, though Luke had more good things to say! “The cheese is soft and spreadable, so decadent and has this lovely subtle earthy flavour. A little bit salty, and it gives you a slight tingle in the back of your throat when you eat it. That paired with a fresh baguette and a glass of sparkling wine is one of the truly great culinary experiences a person can have.”
One of the best parts about this culinary experience, according to Luke, is that, “[What’s] great about it is that it’s so simple, anyone can have that experience. You don’t need a fancy chef or a hard to get a reservation. Anyone can do it in their own home.” Or at their own wedding.
Another recommendation that Luke had was a cheese called Five Brothers. It is another cow’s milk cheese that’s made in Woodstock, Ontario at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese. “It’s a washed, rind cow’s milk cheese that’s aged for 8-months on cedar planks,” Luke told us, mentioning that, “It’s kind of an all-purpose cheese: it’s just as comfortable being part of a grilled cheese sandwich as it is a pot of fondue or an element of a cheeseboard. The Cheesemakers describe it as a cross between a Gouda and Appenzeller… but to me, it’s just kind of its own thing. What is most remarkable about it is how accessible it is. It’s so delicious, but not weird enough to be off-putting. A 5-year-old is going to love it just as much as a seasoned Turophile (cheese connoisseur).”
That leaves what to pair delicious cheese with. As far as Five Brothers, Luke’s personal opinion is that it pairs with most wines very well, “but to me, the perfect pairing is a good pilsner.”
Pairing Your Cheese Platter
For other cheeses, Luke recommends keeping weight in mind when finding the right wine pairing. “You don’t want either party to totally overpower the other.” This means staying away from wines like a big California Cabs, as they are a bit too hefty to play nicely. “You want to choose light or medium-bodied wines,” Luke continued, “white generally works better than red, but there are of course exceptions to every rule except one: Champagne goes with everything.”
So, grab some bubbly, find some cheese that provides different taste and texture experiences, and have the cheese board of your dreams at your wedding! Luke told us that one of the most essential parts of creating a cheese board is, “Remember is that this isn’t such serious stuff and if you like it, then it’s a good pairing. These are subjective rules, and it’s totally ok to make your own. The whole fun of it is trying things and seeing what works and what doesn’t. In our shop, we make boards for that purpose: filling plates with an assortment of flavours and textures and then trying them against different beer and wine and letting our guests make connections for themselves.”
If you aren’t up to DIYing it, and you’re in the Greater Toronto Area we highly recommend going to Good Cheese to check out their selection. They have a fantastic menu in their cozy shop and can build a cheese platter or “cheese cake” for your wedding that you will love. You can even get some fondue while you’re there.