The 3 Cheese Types Every Cheese Board Needs (VIDEO)

A beautifully presented cheese board is surefire way to please even the most sophisticated dinner party guest. Laura Werlin, author of The All American Cheese and Wine Book, demonstrates how to create a cheese plate with the perfect amount of balance and variety.

First, let's talk presentation. "Marble looks nice, but wood is a bit more practical," she says. On top of the board, Werlin has placed a piece of parchment paper and writes down the name of each cheese. "Everybody likes to know what the cheeses are, and this is an easier way to for people to remember after they've tasted them," she says.

What's on Werlin's perfect cheese board:

  • Humboldt Fog, a soft goat's milk cheese.
  • Manchego, a Spanish sheep's milk cheese.
  • Stilton, an English cow cheese Werlin deems "the quintessential blue cheese."

If these specific cheeses aren't to your liking, swap them out for a different variety. The important thing, Werlin says, is to choose one cheese from each family: goat's milk, sheep's milk and cow's milk.

For a little crunch, Werlin has chosen a cracker flavored with rosemary and cranberries. Have a skeleton knife -- a specialty cheese knife for soft, creamy cheeses -- on hand for spreading.

Fruit compote adds a sweet component, which you can make yourself by cooking down dried cherries and dried figs with sugar and water for an hour on the stove. "Not only is it good, by the way, on a cheese board, it's also good on pork, on grilled chicken – it's really versatile," she says.

Werlin recommends topping it all off with a thin slice of prosciutto for a salty-sweet combo. "So it's really kind of another one-bite wonder," she says.

More cheese, please: A quick, no-cook appetizer to serve your guests.

Choose better crackers.
Facebook/Beer Flats
If you're choosing crackers over bread, you're not necessarily setting yourself up for failure, but you're taking a big risk. It's hard to go wrong with fresh bread, be it a French baguette or an olive loaf. If you're serving crackers, however, just make sure they're damn good. Luckily, while there are a lot of sh*tty, boring crackers in the world, there are some really delicious ones too. Try Beer Flats Crackers, which are fairly neutral and perfectly buttery, or Swedish Olof Viktors Crispbread Crackers.
Serve dry fig salami.
Charlito's Cocina
Yes, you're reading that right: dry fig salami exists, and it's pretty cool. Long Island City-based Charlito’s Cocina makes fig rolls that are a great, surprising addition to a cheese plate. The figs go through a meat grinder, after which the paste is mixed with wine, bourbon, spices and salt, and are squeezed into tubes just like sausage. Watch this video to see how it's made.
Get creative with your platter.
Brooklyn Slate
Presentation goes a long way, and you can really set the mood with the kind of platter you use. Try something that speaks to you, like these slate boards from Brooklyn Slate. Or, maybe it's something super functional like this picnic-friendly cheese board that comes with utensil drawers, including a space for a wine opener.
Add some kimchi to the mix.
Brian Yarvin via Getty Images
Kimchi, that fermented Korean food that nobody can get enough of right now, makes a great compliment to cheese. New York's Murray's Cheese serves chèvre with kimchi, and we dig it.
Don't be afraid of cheese curds.
Facebook/Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery
Most people hear the words "cheese curds" and don't know what to think. To clarify, cheese curds are quite simply younger pieces of cheddar, before they have hardened into blocks. They're lighter, fluffier and yeah, squeakier. Adding cheese curds to your plate will delight.
Try quince paste.
Everybody loves a good fig jam, but everybody's also had fig jam 1,000 times. Try something a little different, like this quince membrillo from Food52. High in pectin, quince works really well when cooked and turned into jams or jellies. Membrillo means quince paste, and it's worth trying out with a variety of cheeses, especially Manchego.
Spice things up with wasabi pea brittle.
Martha Stewart
We often think of pairing cheese with something sweet, like dried fruit or jams, or something sour, like pickles. Adding spice is another great option. Murray's Cheese serves wasabi-peanut brittle with a blue cheese called MitiBlue. Try this recipe for Spicy Asian Brittle from Martha Stewart.
For jam, think outside the box.
Miguel Gorry
Everybody's used to apple butter, honey, fig spread, pepper jelly or chutney. But a little extra research and befriending your cheesemonger could lead you to some way more exciting spreads. Try something super small batch, like this black cherry jam from tiny French producer Miguel Gorry from the Pyrenees, sold at Formaggio Kitchen. Or try plum jam, grapefruit marmalade or Anarchy In A Jar's Spiced Beer Jelly.
Try licorice syrup.
Formaggio Kitchen
Before you go running for the hills, all you anti-licorice people, take a breath and listen to what we have to say. Lakritsfabriken Licorice Syrup, another favorite from Formaggio Kitchen, is a Swedish delicacy that will blow your taste buds away. If it's not for you, at least you'll have served something totally different. It goes really well with milky fresh flavored cheese, like a young camembert or a triple creme.
Pair blue cheese with chocolate or caramel.
Stinky blue cheese goes surprisingly well both chocolate and caramel. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. We've spooned caramel onto a lovely blue and been blown away. And we've also been told blue cheese pairs really well with a bar of dark chocolate. It's a simple dessert you should definitely try. Check out Spoonable Caramel from Brooklyn-based Spoonable. If you're going the chocolate route, Formaggio's David Robinson suggests serving it alongside a stout.

What are you serving on your cheese plates?