The cheese stands alone, or so the song goes. But just because a great cheese is wonderful on its own doesn’t mean it’s not also wonderful with a partner. Cheese condiments can enhance the characteristic flavors in cheese. As many are sweet, they also are wonderful at providing contrast to the natural saltiness of many cheeses. Reserve the most strongly flavored, spicy and sharp condiments for strongly flavored cheeses so as not to overwhelm the cheese.
AGED BALSAMIC VINEGAR OR BALSAMIC SYRUP – Top-quality vinegar is wonderful with hard, aged cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and aged Goudas.
FRUIT CHUTNEY – Pair these with creamy, young cheeses such as fontina or mild Swiss.
FRUIT PASTE – Different fruits pair differently with different cheeses, but in general, fruit pastes go well with tangy young goat cheeses or salty aged cheeses. Some firm-textured fruit pastes are designed to be sliced, not spread.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL – Fresh cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta and goat cheese act like a canvas for the complexities of a good olive oil.
HONEY – Honey is a delicious counterpoint for both strong and mild cheese. Try it with strong, salty blue cheeses, including Roquefort and Gorgonzola.
MOSTARDA – An Italian specialty, mostarda is made with fruits or vegetables in a spicy, mustard-flavored syrup that gives the condiment its name. Mostardas can be sweet or savory and are great with both mild and strong cheeses with salty, peppery, herbaceous notes.
MUSTARD – Stronger mustards pair well with strong cheeses like Cheddars. Pair more delicate mustards with grassy, milder semi-hard cheeses.
SAVORY JAM OR JELLY – Similar in texture and sweetness to fruit jellies, savory jellies usually add peppers, garlic or herbs to a fruit mixture. Serve them with Brie, Camembert, young Gouda and mild Swiss cheeses.
SWEET JELLY, JAM OR MARMALADE – Artisan jellies are wonderful cheese condiments. Try fig preserves with stronger blue cheeses and citrus marmalades with washed-rind cheeses.