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Valentine’s Day Cheese Plate

Valentine's Day Cheese Plate
Photographed by Nina Gallant | Styled by Chantal Lambeth

Note: This post was updated on February 10, 2022. 

When it comes to everyone’s favorite Hallmark holiday, a great cheese plate is key. It takes almost no time to prepare but provides a wallop of wow-factor—as long as your pairings are on point. What more would you need to woo your beau? To source these sexy selections, we reached out to Tess McNamara, former director of retail and operations at Lucy’s Whey in New York City. “Cheese is art. Cheese is nuanced and compelling…and cheese makes one do crazy things for love,” she says.

You should probably take her word for it—McNamara has been in the cheese biz for eight years, working as a monger abroad and in the United States before becoming cave manager at Murray’s Cheese in 2012. Since 2019 she has been the h

McNamara’s idea of a knockout date? A night in with this plate, plus a good braise, a bottle of wine, and an early bedtime. Swoon.

  • Origin: Époisses, France
  • Milk: Pasteurized cow’s milk

Marc de Bourgogne

Hear us out: Stinky is sexy, especially when a bit of brandy is involved. Warm your tongue with this taste of place (the liquor you’re sipping is the same one the wheel is washed in). Better yet, grab two spoons and go to town—it’s like sharing a milkshake, but better.

  • Origin: Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Milk: Pasteurized cow’s milk

Lemon zest and olive oil

Is there anything better than milk transformed into simple, clean, cloudlike cheese? Well, maybe this super rich, uber fresh ricotta. Top a bowl with grated lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil for a snack that screams seduction.

  • Origin: Interlaken, N.Y.
  • Milk: Pasteurized goat’s milk

Blue cheese and chocolate are tried and true, but the addition of rich, silky peanut butter cranks up the indulgence factor even more. McNamara’s recommendation: Smear creamy Cayuga Blue atop an Original Cup from Jessie’s Nutty Cups, and sip some Champagne on the side to cut through the richness.

  • Origin: Anversa, Italy
  • Milk: Raw sheep’s milk

Forget your preconceived notions of pecorino as an aged grating cheese. This version from importer Marcelli Formaggi is soft and supple, boasting a “custard-like” texture and a “grassy, herbbutter” flavor, McNamara says. Drizzle it with sunflower honey and prepare yourself for a sweet yet earthy mouthful.


Castelmagno PDO d’Alpeggio

  • Origin: Cuneo, Italy
  • Milk: Raw cow’s, sheep’s, and goat’s milk


With a rind that “looks like a moonscape” and stark pockets of natural blue mold in its paste, Castelmagno d’Alpeggio resembles a piece of modern art, McNamara says. Pair the dense, mixed-milk stunner with cognà, a unique Italian preserve. Not quite a jam, not quite a compote, it’s a runny, tart, ethereal partner to cheese.

Rebecca Haley-Park

Rebecca Haley-Park is culture's former editor and resident stinky cheese cheerleader. A native New Englander, she holds a BFA in creative writing from University of Maine at Farmington.

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