Photo: Ngoc Minh Ngo
Cheese and salami are popular guests at gatherings—easy on the hostess, filling, and delicious—but the experts at New York City's Casellula Cheese and Wine Café help make the classics even better.
Get Started: Pick any of the cheeses, meats, or accompaniments on this page or the next to create a tray full of mix-and-match possibilities.

Cheeses: The classic trio includes one hard (like a Cheddar or solid sheep's-milk variety), one soft (goat or Brie), and one pungent (blue), but you can choose whatever you prefer.

Nuts and Seeds: Nut brittles (find them in the candy aisle) are fantastic accompaniments. The salty-sweet combination goes especially well with hard cheeses. Nuts like walnuts and almonds are traditionally used in pairings; for a new take, try pumpkin seeds, toasted sesame seeds, and pine nuts.

Fruits: So many fruits go well with cheese: fresh berries for mild ones, cherries for blue, pineapple for alpine cheeses such as Gruyere, and apples, pears, apricots, and cranberries for almost all. Fruit can be raw, roasted, poached, stewed, dried, or in a jam. Try cooking down a bag of frozen berries until they thicken, then serve with a spoon in a small bowl. Curds, including rhubarb, lemon, and passion fruit, are great, as are strips of dried citrus zests, like orange, lemon, or grapefruit. For cured meats, add chunks of melon or apple slices.

Pickles: Their acidity helps balance the fat in cheese and meat. Carrots, crunchy okra, or green beans are all good with stinky, pungent, or hard cheeses (they may overwhelm mild ones). Cornichons pair especially well with charcuterie.

Spices/Herbs: You can coat a soft cheese with herbs or nuts—cut it into wedges, then press sesame or poppy seeds, basil, paprika, or peppercorns into one side. You can also use cumin, porcini mushroom powder, or a blend of powdered citrus zest and red pepper flakes.

Breads, crackers, vegetables, and spreads...
party tray
Photo: Ngoc Minh Ngo
Bread/Crackers: Not every cheese needs to be served with bread or crackers, but they're good for getting unwieldy soft cheeses to the mouth or as accompaniments for very sharp cheeses. Owner Brian Keyser's favorites: raisin-nut bread, baguettes, and rye, rice, or sesame crackers. A simple crusty white bread, such as a baguette, is best for pâtés; many salamis and sausages can be eaten without a starch.

Vegetables: Casellula uses roasted cipollini onions because they have a rich taste and look great, but grilled or roasted slices of any type of onion will work. Spicy red pepper jelly is a hostess classic for a reason—its sweet and spicy combination pairs beautifully with smooth, rich cheeses and meats.

Charcuterie: Try a salami, a pâté, and a cured pork like serrano ham or prosciutto.

Chutneys: Thick, fruity chutneys are favorites with both meat and cheese.

Spreads: Whole grain mustards add a nice bite, while smooth purees provide a complementary note.

Unexpected Treats: Coconut macaroons balance the saltiness of cheese, while potato chips make excellent serving scoops for pâté.

Try these recipes...
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