Photo by Janelle Jones
It's time to address that age-old question that has ignited battles, lost lovers, and become the political soapbox for leaders like Putin to come into office: how does one compose a proper cheese plate? There are hollowed instructions in countless books out there that echo forth authoritative, decisive guidelines as to the how's and why's of the plate du fromage. Well, I am here—little humble me—to let you know that it's all utter bullshit.
Take that Ina Garten, get back to that barefoot kitchen, and leave the real work to us mongers. Crafting the perfect cheese plate has a lot to do with personal taste. Take Pharrell's hat at the Grammys; not my cup of tea. But play on, player: you do you. Pamela Anderson is not what I would consider attractive, let alone a sex goddess, but how can most middle American mechanics be wrong? And while there are some universal truths out there (Beyonce, you are the Queen; Kanye, you are a lunatic), there are a number of widely loved cheeses in this world that can be the linchpin to any esoteric cheese selection. So, let's talk business. How many cheeses should you have on your cheese plate? Well, the better question is how many cheeses do you want? I have seen stunning centerpieces of a single beautiful slab of Montgomery's Cheddar adorned with just a dollop of chutney and a few slices of Granny Smith. Whoa, boy. Watch the fuck out. That minimalist presentation will get any pimply punk a BJ.But most mongers will tell you that three to five cheeses is a great offering, and they would be right. (Boring, but right.) You can always go the standard route with a variety of milks: a cow, a goat, a sheep, and a blue. Boom, you got your four. You can even throw in a mixed milk creation, perhaps a Robiola two-milk. That gets you five. Look Ma, we all can count. What's important are two things: get a variety of textures and flavors. Go with something soft, something velvety, something firm, something crumbly, something that melts in your mouth and not in your hand.Secondly, and really most importantly, get the cheeses you like. Cause this is your party, and who gives a shit if everyone else likes it. (Right, Pharrell?) So go forth and craft your perfect plate, and just remember: you can't please everyone, so no point in trying. If your guests don't like your cheese plate, maybe they should go home.