There’s a whole world of olive oil opportunities beyond cooking and bread-dipping: Finish fromage with a drizzle of olive oil—or use it to marinate hunks of creamy cheese—and you’ll find that the luscious extract takes wedges and wheels to the next level.
Like most pairings, you can pick duos that complement or contrast. But geography is a good place to start, says Tim Bucciarelli, olive oil buyer for Boston’s Formaggio Kitchen: “Start with pairings that are based on the adage if it grows together, it goes together.” With these picks, you can go for the gold.
- Skip rich triple creams. “They create too much fatty sensation. Simpler is always best,” says Albert Katz of KATZ Farm.
- Put it all on a baguette. “That way the bread can soak up whatever oil slips off the cheese,” says Julie Cappellano, general manager at Formaggio Kitchen.
- Match intensity. The sharper the cheese, the more intense the oil, suggests California Olive Ranch’s oleologist Maia Hirschbein.
- Read the label, says Hope Lerman, cheese counter manager at Eataly Boston: “Don’t be fooled by oil that has been ‘packaged’ in Italy. Look for DOP/PDO certifications and oils made by small, regional producers.”
California Olive Ranch
PAIR WITH: Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Toma
These two share nutty notes and a grassy finish. Together, it’s a sunny California coupling.
PAIR WITH: Manchego PDO
Add some jamón and a palmful of almonds and it’s time for tapas.
Organic Rock Hill Ranch
PAIR WITH: Deca & Otto Burrata
This full-bodied blend boasts a booming herbaceousness; mellow it with a rich, pillowy burrata.
Oilladi Fall 2016 Harvest
PAIR WITH: Flying Goat Farm Feta
Go Greek: Balance out briny feta with a buttery potion made from mild Manaki olives.
PAIR WITH: Monte Veronese PDO
Bright tropical aromas and a hint of nuts bring out the fruity notes in this Italian wedge.
Castillo de Canena
PAIR WITH: Crooked Face Creamery Smoked Ricotta
For a kick of campfire, match woodsy cold-smoked ricotta with the toasty notes of oak-smoked oil.
PAIR WITH: Gorgonzola Dolce PDO
Drizzle this handpicked Italian blend onto fudgy Gorgonzola for peppery oomph.
PAIR WITH: Mt. Vikos Barrel Aged Feta
A dense yet open texture means this zippy feta’s just right for catching all that green goodness.
PAIR WITH: Cellars at Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound
Amplify Cabot Clothbound’s caramel notes with a fragrant oil from the Peranza olive.
Tenuta di Capezzana
PAIR WITH: Pecorino di Pienza
Pienza’s pecorino is rubbed with olive oil during the make: Harken back to its roots with an herbal Tuscan option.
Anthia Manaki Argolida
PAIR WITH: Montchevre Fresh Goat Cheese
Plop rounds of chèvre into a bath of sweet, herb-spiked Greek oil, suggests Bucciarelli, and let it sit for a week.
Jean Marie Cornille
PAIR WITH: Landmark Creamery Petit Nuage
Lush Provençal olive oil lends a taste of springtime to fluffy sheep’s milk curds.
PAIR WITH: Graviera PDO
For a Greek treat, dredge a wedge of semi-firm cheese then fry in grassy oil from Koroneiki olives, suggests PJ Kabos owner James Panagiotopoulos.
PAIR WITH: Vermont Shepherd Verano
Punch up this milky and herbaceous summer wheel with a Corsican oil with a hint of wild mint.
Apollo Olive Oil
PAIR WITH: Vermont Creamery Coupole
Light and creamy goat cheese lets the delicate richness of this California olive oil shine.
Olive Oil Lovers
PAIR WITH: Lazy Lady Farm The Thin Red Line
Infused oil amps up the smoked paprika flavor of this Vermont round, creating a bacon-inspired bite.
PAIR WITH: São Jorge PDO
Play it Portuguese with tangy table cheese and a spicy-sweet oil from Cobrancosa olives.
OleArum Coupage DOP Siurana
Olis de Catalunya
PAIR WITH: Mahon Reserva
A drizzle of this lively oil, with notes of tomato and grass, adds sass to a snackable Spanish wedge.
Yuzu Olive Oil
PAIR WITH: Piave Vecchio PDO
Japanese citrus gives this oil a tropical tinge—perfect to accentuate Piave’s notes of pineapple.
Estate Grown Sparta
PAIR WITH: Mozzarella Company Mascarpone Torta Basil
Glug a fruity Greek blend onto flavored mascarpone to highlight the fresh basil.
PAIR WITH: Cypress Grove Purple Haze
Lemons and olives are crushed together in this zingy California oil. Matched with lavender- and fennel-tinged chèvre, you can taste a whisper of summer.
Iryna Denysova/shutterstock.com (olive branch)
Africa Studio/shutterstock.com (oil)