Your holiday cheese plate is only as good as its pairings. Our five favorite fromages--each perfect on its own--become utterly sublime when put together and served with their best sidekicks.
Cheddar: Strong English-style cheddars can stand up to bold, salty meats, like salami (though garlicky ones will overtake the cheese's complex flavor). Walnuts bring out cheddar's earthiness.
Blue: When serving a blue, think sweet: honey (its classic match), bittersweet chocolate, dried dates and even that seasonal standby, fruitcake.
Triple-Créme: Truth is, you don't want to muck up an already perfect triple-créme with anything fancy. For textural contrast, munch on a handful of hazelnuts.
Goat: Tart dried fruits like apricots or cranberries compliment the tang of goat cheese. Crumbly, buttery pine nuts are small enough to press right into the cheese.
Sheep's-Milk: Take a cue from Spanish tapas bars and serve sheep's-milk cheese with sweet, slightly tart membrillo (quince paste), available at cheese shops and many supermarkets. Roasted almonds bring out the cheese's nutty, salty flavors.
Tip: Contrary to popular wisdom, not every cheese should be eaten with bread or crackers. Harder cheese don't have much moisture, so the combination can be unappetizingly dry. Eat those on their own and save the carbs for creamier cheeses.