There are too many Pinterest fails in the world, so let's make your cheese plate a success! This list of rules will guide you (and ultimately your guests) to cheese plate nirvana.
- Pick a variety: When going to a cheesemonger, explain how many people you are serving, so he can help you with portioning. Ask for a variety of cheeses (cow, goat, and sheep) with different textures. Soft, crumbly goat cheese; oozy brie; semisoft manchego (sheep's milk); aged Dutch gouda; and hard parmesan-reggiano are mild, crowd-winning options. Consider buying at least one pungent and strong cheese, too, like a blue cheese, for serious cheese-lovers.
- Choose accompaniments: Consult the cheesemonger for recommended cheese pairings. Candied walnuts, Marcona almonds, honey, figs, seasonal fruit (like cherries or grapes), and even caramel go well with cheese. Don't forget to consider cheese-wine pairings, as well.
- Find a thin cracker: There's nothing like baguette and cheese, but for a party, it's impossible to avoid the bread from becoming stale and those crumbs from going everywhere. Instead, serve the cheese plate with thin crackers like Carr's, Raincoast Crisps, or 34 Degrees Crispbreads.
- Let the cheese come to room temperature: The complex flavors of cheese taste best when they are served at room temperature. Several hours before guests arrive, take the cheeses out of the fridge, and let them rest on the countertop until they're no longer cool to the touch.
- Spread on a cheeseboard: Use a large wooden cutting board or a stone slab to lay out the cheese from mildest to strongest. Between each cheese, place fruits, nuts, and crackers to create dividers. Make sure each cheese has its own knife so that no one double dips into separate cheeses!