If the thought of arranging a perfectly composed cheese plate intimidates you, look no further than Tia Keenan’s new book, The Art of the Cheese Plate ($21; amazon.com). The fromage mastermind behind the cheese program at the popular The Modern restaurant in New York has published a practical guide to creating your own foolproof, delicious, and beautiful pairings.
More than 37 different cheese plates, including 100 cheeses, 111 pairings, and 84 recipes, are included in this “doing” book that offers up clear directions and expert tips for the person who falls on any part of the cheese-loving spectrum, from beginner to connoisseur. Having trouble finding the just-right wine for your cheeses? Be open to unexpected non-wine pairings, like a creamy young goat cheese with a white flowering tea (which, like wine, also contain tannins), a beer-brined washed Le Charmoix with a Belgian Trappist ale, or a grainy Grana Padano Riserva with a bitter and sweet gin Negroni.
Ultimately, there aren't hard-and-fast rules to finding the best combination. “The perfect pairing is the one you like,” Keenan titles one of the introductory sections to her beautiful tome. “Pairing is personal, and don’t let anyone—or any book—tell you otherwise.”
With that sage advice and an open mind, bookmark Keenan’s book for the perfect hostess gift or cheese lover in your life this holiday season, and scroll through for some of our own picks for creating a gorgeous cheese tableau.