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How to Assemble a Picnic Cheeseplate

illustrated cheeses

On the weekends when you’re itching to get out of the house, the last thing you want to think about is what to pack for lunch. The easy answer? A soft baguette, assorted cheeses, and a few thoughtfully chosen condiments are all you need for a fantastic feast outdoors. And you needn’t fret about what goes with what: the following are simply suggested pairings, but as always, let your own personal tastes guide you.

We took inspiration from Madame Fromage’s tips for a perfect plate, set to beautiful illustrations of even more beautiful cheeses. The post explains why cheese was really made to be eaten outdoors.

As you eat, you can taste the grassiness of the milk, and the experience become doubly sensual. If you can’t picnic near actual ewes, stare up at the clouds and picture a pastoral life. In the summer, shepherds throughout Europe still lead animals into the hills to feast on wild grasses and herbs (mint, fennel, dill). Animals that gobble gorgeous feed produce beautiful milk. And thus, the best cheeses come to be.

So let’s get packing! Soft cheeses like ricotta, chèvre, or brie are easy to serve without a knife, and all pair nicely with fresh herbs or a drizzle of honey. However, they won’t fare well on a particularly hot day, so when the mercury really starts rising try something a little firmer. Sharp cheddar, gruyère, or caciocavallo (which graced the cover of our Summer issue) can all take the heat, and pair nicely with a salty smoked meat and tangy mustard. 

If you’d like to get serious about your picnic game, consider investing in a kit. We like this picnic cheese set, or this fully stocked basket for the more dedicated. Want more outdoor cheese tips? We’ve got articles for hiking with cheese and how to cook up a cheesy snack while camping. Here’s a toast to the cheesiest summer ever.

Photo by Madame Fromage

Alicia Hahn

Alicia Hahn is an online editorial intern for culture who excels at eating and enjoys writing, crosswords, and cooking (preferably with cheese). Originally from San Francisco, she moved to Boston for school and fell in love with the city (despite an annual campaign against winter). Her favorite place to be is the farmers’ market, where she finds weird and exciting ingredients to make or break her next meal.