The uninspired cheese plate

illustration by mark stivers

I appreciate a good cheese plate. But I eat a lot of cheeses and, therefore, know my way around a cheese plate so well that these days, I rarely ever order one. That’s because the cheese plates at most restaurants are designed for casual cheese eaters, which, unfortunately, means that they are predictable. More than likely, the restaurants will have Humboldt Fog, a bandage-wrapped cheddar that’s likely Fiscalini, and a blue (often Maytag or Point Reyes). Delicious cheeses, each and every one, but for God’s sake, can we branch out a bit?

How about Black Butte from Pedrozo served with a poached fig? A hearty slice of blue- and ash-lined Monte Enebro with a tiny cocoa nib tuile cookie? Perhaps a sour and pungent smear of Torta del Casar served with a bit of toast and some sliced fuyu persimmons?

I understand the need to have a familiar, gateway cheese to encourage people to try the cheese plate. Yet, I beg you, please put some fascinating cheeses on the plate. Engage the customers—and educate them!