A great way to impress guests at your next dinner party is by offering a carefully prepared cheese plate. Show off your sophistication by knowing which accompaniment to serve with which cheese.
Step 1: Pair aged, hard cheeses Pair hard, aged cheeses, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, and aged Goudas with aged balsamic vinegar. Drizzle a few drops of the vinegar over the cheese to enhance the flavor.
Step 2: Pair young, creamy cheeses Pair young, creamy cheeses, like Fontina or mild Swiss cheeses, with fruit-based chutneys or freshly peeled and cut Asian pears and Fuji apples. The sweetness of the fruit pairs well with the mild flavor of the cheese.
TIP: Fontina cheese is much creamier when it's young. Aged Fontina is hard and much more pungent, and will overpower fruit.
Step 3: Pair fresh cheeses Pair fresh cheeses, like mozzarella, ricotta, and goat cheese, with high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. The mild texture and flavor of the cheese will bring out the complexity of the olive oil.
Step 4: Pair blue cheeses Pair strong blue cheeses like Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton, as well as fresh goat cheeses, with honey.
TIP: Be creative and find honey infusions in flavor varieties such as orange, pear, truffle, and eucalyptus.
Step 5: Pair Spanish cheeses Pair Spanish cheeses like Roncal, Mahon, and Manchego, with quince paste, or membrillo. Quince paste is sweet and tart, and can be found at most cheese counters.
Step 6: Pair Brie, Camembert, Gouda, Swiss Serve Brie, Camembert, young Gouda, Jarlsberg, and mild Swiss cheeses with savory jams and jellies, such as garlic, onion, and horseradish. The strong flavor of the cheeses holds up nicely to the strong jellies.
Step 7: Pair creamy, semi-soft French cheeses Pair creamy, semi-soft French cheeses, like Port Salut or Le Petit Basque, with prepared mustards. The mustard will offset the cheese with mild heat, and provide a level of complexity to compliment it.
Step 8: Experiment Experiment with a variety of other cheese accompaniments, such as Branston Pickle, tomato jelly, prunes, figs, Champagne grapes, and spiced nuts. And don't forget to dress up your cheese plate with crackers, crostini, and crusty bread.
FACT: Consuming certain cheeses, including blue, Brie, and Gouda, immediately after meals has been shown to help prevent tooth decay.