I am almost always laser focused day in and out, simply because I have to be with all the things life throws my way – but there is one thing that makes my eyes glaze over, that finds me lingering in one spot for far too long and not even realizing it, and forces a good head shake to snap out of it.
That would be the cheese shop at Wegmans.
Look, I am a huge fan of dairy and actually like to “splurge” on expensive cheeses. It (and a collection of Kate Spade bags) is absolutely my life downfall. The problem is, though I am slowly becoming the duchess of dairy, I have no idea how to put wedges and cubes together in a cohesive way that’s a treat for the taste buds.
Even if you aren’t as into cheese as I am, it’s still good to know how to assemble a worthy cheese plate. Surprisingly, this is really simple, and this is all you need.
Something sharp, like white cheddar. Cheddar is so easy to find and it pairs well with almost everything. Plus, it’s a familiar taste. Look for white cheddar that is as sharp as you can get (yes, extra sharp is an actual option), that has been aged for several months.
Something funky, like blue cheese. Yes, it looks and smells kind of funky, but that’s actually a good thing. Such a strong cheese adds contrast. Blue cheese is also nice because, unlike its stinky fancy European counterparts, the name is familiar and it won’t break the bank. Don’t skimp and get crumbles, though; a solid wedge with dark blue veins throughout is the way to go.
Something creamy, like brie. The mouth feel on a cheese like brie is a wonderful one, one that borders on melting. Also, there’s really no such thing as bad brie; even a cheaper brie will still taste pretty awesome. Get it in a wedge (not a wheel) and do not make the same mistake I once did – cut the white part off. It’s gross … and inedible.
Something fresh, like goat cheese. Such a cheese, that’s not aged, adds a light, crisp and flavorful option. Goat cheese should absolutely be soft and squishy, very white and most often log shaped. Also, if you really want to impress your friends, you can refer to it as “Chevre,” the fancy French name.
Something nutty, like aged Gouda. Consider this the everyman cheese. It’s just high up on the list enough for those who consider themselves cheese snobs, but accessible enough for those of us who see no problem shoving forkfuls of shredded Mexican taco blend into our mouths from a bag. (What? Just me?) Go for the gold — er, orange — when it comes to this cheese, not the white. It should be firm and slightly crumbly.
If you want to get super fancy (and not have to repeat yourself a million times), label each cheese and make sure there are tiny knives on hand for each. Serve other snacks to complement the cheese, like crackers, jam or fresh fruit.