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How Do I Pair Cheese with Bread?

Given the amazing variety of artisan and flavored breads now available, what advice would you give for pairing cheeses with unusual loaves?
The rise of artisan bakeries has indeed led to a myriad of specialty breads; pairing them with cheese can be really interesting and bring out unique characteristics in both. At the bread counter, you have the option of choosing a loaf that complements your cheese or one that has a contrasting flavor. While the latter can be fun to experiment with, the former is almost foolproof. Here are a few combinations that I really like:

  • Savory nut breads work very well with fresh chèvre, farmhouse cheddars, and blue cheeses.
  • Breads with dried fruits, such as raisins or cranberries, are perhaps the most versatile. They pair easily with many cheeses, ranging from fresh ricotta and fromage blanc to triple crèmes and pungent cheeses.
  • Olive breads pair well with feta and other salty sheep’s milk cheeses. A little drizzle of vincotto vinegar (a sweet, velvety condiment with subtle overtones of spice and dried fruit) lends a sweet tang that adds a counterpoint to the saltiness of the olives and feta.
  • The classic crusty baguette is appropriate for any cheese, but it is absolutely perfect with an unctuous, soft-ripened wheel or assertive, washed-rind cheese.

Cheesemonger Nathan Raskopf

Nathan Raskopf is a cheesemonger at Whole Foods Market in Raleigh, North Carolina. He started in 1999, “At the time,” he says, “I didn’t know much ... about cheese.” When Nathan switched to the Specialty team at Whole Foods in 2000, he immediately fell in love with cheese.