By grouping together cheeses with distinctly different tastes (aged, soft, hard or blue), then mixing them with sweet and savory food pairings, a cheese plate can be the standout appetizer of a social occasion. Suggested ingredients: 1/4 pound manchego cheese; 1/4 pound fontina cheese; 1/4 pound goat cheese; 1/4 pound blue cheese; 1/2 pound figs; 1/4 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced; salted crackers; unsalted crackers; olives; herbs; black pepper; one bunch red grapes; one bunch green grapes; baguette; honey; raspberry compote.
Once all condiments, pairings and cheeses have been removed from their packaging and properly prepared for presentation, arrange them all together on an elevated vessel above the crackers, bread and condiments. This will allow the variety of cheeses to stand out as a culinary feature and provide easy access for guests.
Set out a separate knife for each type of cheese.
Label each cheese with suggested accompaniments.
Keep more pungent cheeses on a separate plate so they don't overpower the other cheeses.
Take cheeses out of the refrigerator at least one hour before serving; they'll be more flavorful and easier to slice.
Once you've curated your cheeses, it's important to choose versatile accompaniments. Consider a mix of salted and unsalted crackers, as well as shortbreads and baguettes. Dips like honey and raspberry compote are commonly used to counterbalance sweetness or saltiness. For a more polished look, present dips in white ramekins layered on top of wood cutting boards.