Cheese: choose at least three. Think about a variety of milks, from goat, sheep and cow, but also flavor and texture: creamy, crumbly, sharp and stinky.
Crunchy things: nuts are a must. Choose salted, flavored nuts. Cocoa dusted almonds are a nice addition, as are macadamias, pistachios or marcona almonds.
Sweet stuff: fruits, preserves, chocolates. Fig jam can typically be found near a cheese counter, or pick up some old fashioned marmalade. Grapes are always at home with cheese, and look pretty. Raspberries work well, as do mandarin slices and fresh figs. Use fruit that won’t turn brown.
Vehicles: crackers and chips. You’ll need sturdy things to get all that cheese to mouths. I like to choose one plain and one flavored, with rosemary or garlic.
Extra stuff: fill up little bowls with other tasty foods. Choose olives, hummus, roasted red peppers, pickles of any sort.
Colors: Choose cheese, fruits, extras and serving pieces that vary in color and shape. It’ll look prettier.
Focal point: Place one item slightly off center, like a bunch of grapes or a wheel of cheese. Circle everything else out from that starting point.
Set it up: lay it out on a platter, large plate or cutting board. Put down pieces of lettuce or greens first, and add the elements, letting the greens peek out a bit.