Making a Cheese Plate

Plating Tips
Always serve cheese at room temperature.  Remove hard cheeses from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving to let the flavors develop. Soft cheeses or small portions need less time.  A Cheese dome, overturned bowl or light cloth is very useful to prevent the cheeses from drying out while they come to room temperature. When cutting full wheels or large wedges, try to keep the shape of the cheese intact. Cut wheels first in half, then into triangles. Use a selection of attractive boards, marble, slate, platters or individual cheese plates.For a buffet, provide a separate knife for each cheese ­ spreaders for soft cheeses, sturdy blades for hard cheeses. Make sure any plate decorations or leaves are clean and dry.

Easy Cheese Course Accompaniments
Breads & Crackers:  French baguette, sweet Italian, rustic artisan loaf; olive, raisin or walnut breads are especially good with blue cheeses. Fruit:  Figs, apples, grapes, pears, peaches or melons when in season. Dates, quince paste, dried apricots or other dried fruit work well in winter.  Chutney and other relishes are frequently used ­ especially with English style cheddars.

Figs and got cheese make natural cheese-plate partners because goat cheeses like to be paired with slightly sweet, fruity flavors; we love to cut a fresh fig in half and place 1 tsp. of goat cheese (like Laura Chenel's Chabis) over each half.