Forget elaborate dinner parties: Modern gatherings are all about cheese.
It's a trend that's gained in popularity as millenials have started entertaining their friends, and as party hosts of all ages look for less formal ways to get together.
"Cheese is such an easy thing to serve at home because it keeps well. You can put it out on a buffet table and it doesn't go bad," said James Mellgren, managing editor of Fine Cheese & Charcuterie magazine. "A couple of cheeses, some fermented pickled products and a salad, and you've got a nice little meal."
But serving cheese isn't just about putting out a pre-cut platter of cheddar squares and brie wedges. Today's hosts want to try new varieties, and cheese counters at grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's make obscure offerings from local farms and tiny European producers more accessible than ever.
When today's hosts lay out cheeses, they're encouraging guests to try something new. Offering a variety of cheeses also allows the host to curate pairings with craft beers or fine wines.
And while a cheese party is an inherently social event, it isn't just about eating. The tools used to cut and serve cheese can also liven things up. Some of the coolest cheeseware we've seen comes from Dutch company Boska. That's no surprise: According to CEO and fourth-generation owner Martijn Bos, "It's our mission, our dream, our why... to make cheese cool."
The company makes a huge variety of cheese paraphernalia, from specialty knives, to campfire fondue pots, to unique rotary scrapers for making decorative cheese florets. All of them were on display at the 2014 Home Housewares Show in Chicago, where Bos gave us a guided tour... and some excellent cheese.
"There's lots of paraphernalia for it," Mellgren agrees, "which is fun at a party."