Dazzle guests with a well-rounded cheese plate. To store fine cheeses, wrap them in parchment or waxed paper (not tight plastic); bring to room temp before serving.
Cheddar. This crowd-pleasing favorite gets its name from the town of Cheddar, England. Traditionally a straightforward cheese made from cow’s milk, cheddar now boasts creative flavor enhancements, such as ground espresso or cumin seeds.
Try: Beehive Cheese Co. Barely Buzzed; Grafton Village Cheese Company Vermont Leyden
Chèvre. Made from goat milk, chèvre (French for “goat”) delivers a tangy, unique flavor. It’s soft and creamy when fresh but adopts a semifirm, crumbly texture when aged. Serve chèvre by rolling logs in minced fresh herbes de Provence or drizzling them with raw honey and crushed dried lavender.
Try: Cyprus Grove PsycheDillic
Blue cheese. Salty, pungent blue cheese gets its signature veins from penicillium, a harmless compound related to the mold that makes penicillin. Made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, most blues emit a heady aroma. Pair with crisp apples or pears to balance flavors.
Try: Rogue Creamery Flora Nelle
Soft-ripened. Cheesemakers age soft-ripened cheeses from the outside in by dusting them with special mold. This creates an edible, bloomy rind and a velvety-smooth, spreadable interior. Highlight soft-ripened cheese’s earthy, herbal notes with dried apricots and figs or a medium-bodied red wine.
Try: Haystack Mountain Haystack Peak