Master the Cheese Plate
“When you’re putting together a cheese platter, think of a clock,” says Helen Howarth, owner of Fromagio’s Artisan Cheese in Anchorage. She recommends eating the cheese in a round-the clock order as well, beginning with the most mellow flavors and ending with the most intense.
“Choose cheeses you personally like and maybe one cheese that challenges you a little bit,” she says. Place your cheeses in “clock order” with 6:00 being the mildest and 3:00 being the strongest.
6:00 A mild, soft, creamy cheese like a brie, camembert or a chèvre.
9:00 A semi-firm, younger cheese (aged three to six months) like a manchego, gruyere, or young cheddar.
12:00 An older, firm (aged nine months or more) more robust cheese like gouda or a cheddar.
3:00 For your final bite, a blue cheese. Blues, says Howarth, “are the ‘take-no-prisoners’ kind of cheese. Once you eat them, it’s really hard to taste anything else.”
You should leave spaces on the plate between the cheese to fill with pairing items for guests to experiment with. You could go sweet: a dollop of jam or honey, a selection of fresh or dried fruit like cherries, figs or apricots, or dark chocolate. Or go savory: mustard, pickles, pickled vegetables like peppers or artichokes, salted nuts, and assorted meats.