The Art of the Cheese Plate

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Bar Covell is one of L.A.’s (and the country’s) most celebrated wine bars and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite places to go in the early evening to meet a friend before grabbing dinner. The wine is always interesting and carefully selected and, if you’re hungry, they make a cheese plate that pretty much puts all other cheese plates to shame. I mean, look at it. It’s like the world’s most awesome clock except instead of numbers you have cheese. And not just cheese but, and this is important, little pairings of various textures, shapes, and flavors that take the cheese in totally new directions. It’s what’s separates a “just OK” cheese plate from a cheese plate that makes you go “wow.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about cheese plates that have little flavor pairings on them. At Cassellula in New York, where I went with my friend Lauren, I loved how they paired each cheese with something genuinely surprising:

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On the left, the goat cheese is paired with green tea white chocolate fudge. Ya, you heard that right. The other pairings are bacon molasses mustard seeds, manzanilla olive tapenade and tomato confit.

Looking at this again, it makes me realize that there are no absolutes when it comes to constructing a cheese plate, you can fool around and have fun. The biggest crime would be to play it safe.

Which brings us back to Bar Covell’s cheese plate: there’s honey comb on a spoon, corn nuts, quince paste and unpeeled pistachios. Each of these things would be fine by themselves, but with cheese? They make your whole mouth light up.

So the next time you make a cheese plate at home, open up your pantry and see what you have that might make the cheese go BOOM. Just don’t pair Velveeta with Cheerios because that’s just lazy.

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