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There’s nothing sadder than lonely cheese, so if you’re serving hors d’oeuvres this holiday, grab a few key accompaniments after hitting the cheese counter.
1. Quince paste. Also called membrillo, this popular (and pretty) Spanish condiment is typically paired with Manchego, though there’s no rule against setting it out with other cheeses. It’s generally sold in rectangular blocks and keeps for a good long while in the fridge.
2. Nuts. Purchase your favorite variety, and toast them up before serving to deepen their flavor. Small nuts like pignolis can be toasted in a dry skillet, but larger nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts) should be spread on a rimmed baking sheet and set in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Jostle them occasionally to prevent burning. For a special touch, drizzle nuts with high-quality honey.
3. Dried fruit. Sure, fresh berries are lovely in summer, but in winter consider laying out moist Medjool dates, plump dried cherries, or chewy Mission figs.
4. Aged balsamic. Thick and syrupy, aged balsamic is perfect for pairing with hard, salty cheese. And don’t forget the bread. Crackers are customary, but a good crusty loaf is a cheese-lover’s dream.