Appetizer, Snack, Summer, Spring

A SUMMER CHEESE PLATE.

Ahhh, it feels kind of nice to write a recipe without instructions. This is just to get you thinking beyond the usual, or maybe this is your usual with a few little additions. There is always a reason for a cheese plate, and I think one with a little extra thought goes a long way. We're going camping by the beach this weekend with family, and that's as good a place as any for a cheese plate, if you ask me.

I've catered a handful of dinner parties, and the selections below are some choices I've come to find popular by extremely close survey. We each have our favorites, and you should by all means include yours, but this combination is what makes sense to me for the end of summer. I like to keep the cheeses on the lighter side for warm weather, saving the cheddars, bries and bleus for the cooler months, this being an exception.

PARMIGIANO REGGIANO // RAW COW'S MILK

chisle off a few pieces, drizzle raw honey

CHEVRE // SOFT GOAT'S MILK CHEESE

rolled in finely chopped lemon thyme, chives, pinch of rosemary and ground pepper

MANCHEGO // AGED SHEEP'S MILK

with a bit of apricot jam

BABY MOZZARELLA // FRESH COW'S MILK

with slow roasted yellow tomatoes, basil and balsamic reduction

Here is a recipe for Heidi's tomatoes, mine were so juicy, I used half the oil suggested.

To make your own balsamic reduction, just simmer balsamic vinegar until it reduces to 1/3 of its original volume. Remember it will thicken even more as it cools. I suggest transferring it to some sort of glass vessel before it cools, as it is quite sticky.

Marcona Almonds

Fresh Grapes or Figs

Crostinis

Seeded Crackers

Let the cheese sit out a bit, don't serve it straight from the fridge.

And drink wine with it, because life's short and cheese and wine make all sorts of sense.

(update for those asking) Cheese forks are from Napa Style.

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