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.
Fontina cheese is a perfect fit for guests with earthy, woody palates. Almost mushroom-like in its flavoring, fontina cheese is best served with truffles and meats. For a perfect mix of sweet and savory, consider serving fontina with prosciutto and grapes
When your guests outnumber the dinner plates you have in a matched set, don't sweat! Just use plates that are all in the same color family or same style and it'll lend an eclectic look to your spread. Tip: Antique luncheon plates are the perfect size for children.
Rather than using flimsy paper plates, invest in a great set of neutral dessert plates that will suit most any party theme. Set these out at the front of the cookie buffet with festive red-and-white-patterned linen napkins for guests to grab on their own.
Black frames and glass shelf plates create an open shelving set up over the natural wood walls in this kitchen set up. The smooth white countertops and cabinets are a lovely contrast to the wood finish. A white farmhouse sink is centered below the window.