If I had it my way, I would eat a cheese plate for dinner with a glass (or two) of vino at least a few times a week. But, being that I don't live alone and the hubs prefers carnivorous meals most nights, I have to settle for making myself a cheese plate as an afternoon snack on weekends, which I guess I can live with. I feel there are a few very important components in making the perfect cheese plate. Think of the following as my rules to live by in the world of delicious cheese plates.
To start, you need a plate! Find a cute platter or cheese board because in cheese plates, looks matter! I LOVE this plate that I stumbled upon at Flora Grubb in San Francisco.
Now that we've found the plate, onto the cheese. I like to round out my plate with 3 cheeses of different varieties. I feel its best to start out with a crowd pleasing cheddar. You can find many great cheddars out there. A safe bet would be a delicious Cabot Sharp Cheddar from the Great State of Vermont (who will not apologize for their cheese!- tell me you've seen Thank You For Smoking) but I happen to like my cheddar with a bit more bite and Whole Foods stocks a great option from England called Seaside Cheddar. It's a bit softer and even a little crunchy, yes crunchy. I have no idea why but it's divine!
Moving on to the 2nd cheese... I like this to be my wild card cheese. The 2nd cheese is never pre-determined. I often browse the cheese counter at Whole Foods trying any and all cheeses they have out to taste and looking very eager and needy in the case that I haven't tried something I like enough to buy so that the cheese man will offer to gimme a little taste of whatever he has behind the counter. Sometimes I walk away with a delish gouda, or maybe a brie.
For my final pick, I always go with a goat cheese. I found an amazingly delicious goat cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre called Humboldt Fog. Not only do I love love love goat cheese, but I love love LOVE this goat cheese. It has a thin layer of vegetable ash running through the center which doesn't add to the flavor much but makes the cheese wedge absolutely stunning. And like I said before, in cheese plates, looks matter!
Now, probably the most important rule when building a cheese plate is to realize that it's not all about cheese... you gotta throw in some extras. First, get a scrumptious salami. I like Sopressata, but no matter your choice, it's gotta be a cased, cured meat which you can find at a gourmet deli counter. You also need bread or crackers. I like to get a sourdough baguette, being that I'm in the bay area and all. Now keep in mind, crackers can be delish, but if you've gone for more soft cheese options then I'd definitely go for the bread. And finally... FIG JAM!! This is the most important component (Humboldt Fog is a close 2nd) to my cheese plates. There is just something truly special about a slice of sourdough baguette topped with a hunk of Humboldt Fog and topped off with a thin spreading of Fig Jam. I can't even explain where this little bite of goodness takes me but, believe me, you wanna go!
Now pop open your favorite bottle of vino, slice some bread, sit back, relax, and eat some cheese!