Anytime I am lucky enough to enjoy a cheese plate or cheese flight I find great pleasure in figuring out the best combination of cheese, cracker, bread and topping. It needs to be the perfect pairing (look at that, no wonder I started a blog of the same name) of crispy and creamy, salty and sweet.
My favorite first course when I throw a dinner party is a cheese plate. It requires minimal work to put together, it looks fancy and it is kind of an interactive experience for the guest. There are a lot of great sites out there that give some amazing tips on how to create the perfect cheese plate, so I am not going to go into great detail here.
I like to have 3 to 5 cheeses, about 3 oz. per person. I typically like a combination of goat cheese, blue cheese, soft cheese like brie or camembert, and a salty, hard cheese like an aged manchego or romano. For toppings I like store-bought fig preserves, caramelized onions or store-bought fruit mostarda. Fresh fruit on the side like apples, pears, grapes and berries are all tasty accompaniments. When I serve a cheese plate I like to serve it with a combination of homemade crackers and simple store-bought crackers. I will be posting the cracker recipes on the blog soon.
The Perfect Pair for a cheese plate is a cheese slate, like those available at Crate and Barrel. The cheese looks great on the black slate and it is easily accessible for guests. A great feature of the slate is that you can write on it in chalk to let the guests know details of the cheese.