Variety is the spice of... cheese. Always buy a range of milk types, flavors, and textures. And don't forget the extras.
1. Fresh cheese that's moist, creamy, and mild.
Try: chèvre or Humboldt Fog.
2. Bloomy-rind cheese that's buttery, mushroomy, and decadent.
Try: Camembert, La Tur, or double-crème Brie.
3. Semisoft cheese that's pliable, mellow, and earthy.
Try: Morbier, fontina, or Pyrenees Brebis.
4. Hard cheese that's dry, savory, and caramelly.
Try: Parmigiano-Reggiano, aged Gouda, or clothbound Cheddar.
5. Blue cheese that's dense and pungent.
Try: Roquefort or Stilton.
Don't let the cheese stand alone. Select two or three add-ons with contrasting flavors and textures. One easy way to choose: Follow the "what grows together, goes together" rule. Have a French Brie? Spring for saucisson sec, a dry-cured French sausage.
Try: Marcona almonds, wild-boar salami, and raw honey.
Pick one that doesn't have an overwhelming flavor and isn't flimsy. It will work with every type of cheese.
Try: Z Crackers Sea Salt & Olive Oil crackers ($7, murrayscheese.com).
For more of Rob's help, see Cheese Plate Tips and Ideas.