Ounce for ounce, there’s nothing more decadent and satisfying than a morsel of excellent, artisan cheese. Put together a festive cheese plate for your next party by following these simple guidelines.
Pick just a few.It’s easy to overwhelm the palate with too many cheeses, so stick to three or perhaps four types. You can go with a theme, such as all goat cheeses or blue cheeses, to play up contrasts within a type.
Vary textures and flavors.Aim for one mild, fresh cheese, such as ricotta, chèvre, or mozzarella; one soft-ripened cheese, such as Brie or Camembert; and one low-moisture, aged cheese, such as aged Gouda or Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you’re a blue-cheese fan, add a mild or pungent variety that balances the other selections’ flavors.
Bring to room temperature.Cold dampens the nuanced flavors in fine cheeses, so be sure to set them out at least an hour before serving. A key to storing cheese in the fridge: Don’t use plastic, as it can cause cheese to “sweat.” Instead, wrap in cheesecloth and then parchment paper or a brown paper bag; secure with a rubber band.
Pair with complementary tastes.Sliced baguette or another palate-neutral bread or crackers make a nice foil to cheeses’ distinctive personalities. Also provide sliced pears, red grapes, and fresh or dried figs for a sweet-tart element, as well as to introduce a burst of color on the board.