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Ask the AJ's Expert

At AJ's Fine Foods you'll find we are more than the products and delicacies in our aisles. The critical component of the AJ's experience lies in the spirit and expertise of our team members. Here you'll find your opportunity to ask questions and have our culinary experts share their knowledge with you.

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This Week's Question:
I'm hosting a cheese & wine party; do you have any tips on serving cheese?

AJ's Expert Answer:
The most important thing is to take your cheese out of the refrigerator at least an hour ahead of serving. You only get the full flavor at room temperature. You should also wait to slice it until just before serving. The moment it's cut, cheese begins to dry out.

Ideally you should have a different knife for each type of cheese so that you don't smear soft cheeses on hard ones or mingle strong cheeses with mild ones. For more informal occasions, use a napkin to wipe the knife before slicing each cheese. You can buy special cheese knives with holes in them that make it easier to cut through softer cheeses. Cheese slicers are useful when you need fine slices for sandwiches.

When you cut from a cheese that's already been cut in a wedge, try to cut a long thin slice rather than simply cut off the tip. Smaller circular cheeses can be cut into wedges, while harder cheeses taste better cut into fine slices rather than chunks or cubes. Cheeses like Parmesan should always be grated or served in small chunks broken off from the block.

Don't remove the rind beforehand, even though you may not want to eat it. It's a question of taste rather than safety, though most people would be inclined to discard harder rinds or the rinds of pungent cheeses which can be stronger than the cheese itself. Obviously, don't eat a waxed rind.

If you would like more information on cheese, pairings or The Cheese Course, see our Fromagerie Page.