Blaak, the artisanal cheese we make at Beekman 1802, is unlike any other cheese currently produced in the world. We wanted to create a cheese that would wow all of the senses — visually and texturally — as well as the palate. You can put together a cheese tray for your party that does the same. Our tips for assembling the perfect plate go something like this:
Something old (a hard, aged cheese–like Manchego or Parmesan)
Something new (a soft, young cheese like chevre or Brie)
Something stinky (yes, there are people who love these cheeses)
Something blue (a great blue cheese rounds out any cheese plate)
Having a cheese from each category will wow every guest and make you look like a true aficionado.
One thing we hate about shopping for cheese is the lack of creative accompaniments. Almost anywhere you go, you'll find the usual fig preserves and quince. Both are good, but there's so much more you can do.
A good rule of thumb when choosing accompaniments is "opposites attract": A hard cheese likes something soft like a baguette, whereas a soft cheese is perfect on a crispy cracker. A salty cheese begs for something sweet like a jam or preserve, and a dry cheese loves a serving of juicy fruit.
Otherwise, we always recommend making as many selections as you can from the local producers. Most cheeseshops and even larger grocery chains will have a section devoted to local or regional cheeses. Support your local farmers.