The path to cheese appreciation lies on the palate and on the table. Sampling a single cheese can be illuminating, but tasting two or three in a convivial social setting can be both educational and indulgent, whether you create an informal cheese board or a more refined presentation called a cheese plate.

6 tips for pairing cheese and food Also from Jenkins: 6 tips for pairing cheese and food, Cheese Precepts and Storing Cheese

The cheese plate is a stylish way of providing each guest with their own personal array of cheeses to savor as they sit at a table. It can consist of anywhere from one to three or four well-chosen cheeses arranged in small portions on large, individual plates set out on the table along with a regular place setting (table knife, fork, spoon and a cloth napkin). Basic accompaniments such as a good, crusty bread (served warmed in a cloth-covered basket) and a compatible beverage, usually wine, are also arranged on the table. The cheeses should be chosen to represent a balanced spectrum of cheese types and textures, and cut into a portion size that reflects how the cheese plate fits into the scheme of your entertaining or dining plans. (for appetizers 1 oz. chunks or slivers of each cheese, for a hearty, filling portion 2 or 2 1/2 oz. each should do).

Arrange the cheese portions equidistant on the plate close to the outer rim. Then, in between them, arrange the accompaniments - whole or sliced fresh fruit, dried or fresh berries, paper-thin slices of cured meat, a thin slice of fruit paste, some glistening olives, or a scattering of toasted nuts.

Jenkins makes the following suggestions:

An Italian Plate:


  • Fresh Mozzarella or an imported Mozzarella di bufala

  • Aged Pecorino Toscano

  • Parmigiano Reggiano


  • Assorted olives, thick-cut slices of Italian sopressata; roasted sweet red peppers; anchovies; thick slices of Tuscan-style bread.

An American Plate:


  • Green Peppercorn Goat Cheese from Coach Farms

  • Sally Jackson's Sheep Cheese

  • Franklin Peluso's Teleme


  • Slices of fresh melon

  • Dried cherries

  • Toasted hazelnuts

  • Raisin-pumpernickel bread

You can order the American cheeses directly by contacting these artisans:

Miles, Lillian, and Susan Cahn
Coach Farms
Mill Hill Road
Pine Plains, NY 12567

Sally and Roger Jackson
Sally Jackson's Cheeses
Star Route, Box 106
Oroville, WA 98844

Franklin Peluso
Peluso's Cheese
429 H St
Los Banos, CA 93635

Steven Jenkins
Steven Jenkins is vice president of Fairway Group Services at Fairway market. He is the author of the books Cheese Primer, which won a James Beard award, and The Food Life. His writing has appeared in numerous food publications.