It's Bread Month here at The Spruce Eats. All through February, we'll be sharing stories about this important staple in all its glorious forms—from pizza to pretzels to bierocks—and the way it's made, eaten, and shared across countries and cultures.
We think of bread and cheese as a no brainer and in some ways, it is. Even the most flaccid of grocery store baguettes won’t be terrible with any of the cheeses currently sitting in your fridge.
But can’t we do better than “not terrible?”
Of course you can (and should!) pair cheese and wine, cheese and honey, cheese and chocolate, cheese and cocktails. All of the above are highly enjoyable. A good pairing of any sort is a delicious kind of witchcraft, a reminder that 1 plus 1 can equal 3. Or 7. Or purple.
But, there’s a special sort of satisfaction in matching cheese and bread. All too often, bread is dismissed as simply a vehicle for cheese, rather than viewed as an art form in its own right. We know that bread is a wonderful thing and we know that cheese is a wonderful thing, but how often do you chart out the best bread to go with your cheese?
Brie may be the default fancy cheese and a baguette is often the default fancy bread, but are they truly a perfect culinary combination? It all depends on the texture of the baguette you found (does the crust have a proper snap or does it just sort of flake off?), whether the Brie is oozy or a bit more erect, and the flavors of both. Really, Brie is often better suited for the earthiness of a pain de campagne and a snappy, yeasty baguette is even better with a runny, yeasty cheese like Epoisses or a salty smear of Roquefort.
Much like selecting really good cheese to go with your wine, choosing really good bread to go with your cheese brings out the best in both and turns the experience into something special. After all, doesn’t special cheese deserve special bread?
Whenever you’re hoping to marry delicious things, there are few helpful pairing guidelines. First, you could go for a complementary pairing. A zesty marinated feta with a tangy sourdough is an excellent example of a complementary pairing. A nutty cheese like Comte is delightful with a seed- or nut-studded loaf.
The other option is a contrasting pairing. Interestingly, the marinated feta and the sourdough also count as a contrasting pairing—the smooth texture of the feta spread over the springy bread encompassed by a crunchy crust is delightful. Sweet, slightly earthy cinnamon raisin bread is wonderful when offset with a zippy fresh goat cheese.
The most important guideline, though, isn’t really a guideline—it’s just the permission to be imaginative and trust yourself. The best pairing is the one that tastes good to you and no one is an authority on your tastes like you are.
Go have fun with some cheese and bread!
- Cinnamon raisin bread: Fresh goat cheese like Vermont Creamery Goat Log or Laura Chenel Fresh Goat Cheese
- Bread with seeds and nuts: A smooth Alpine cheese like Comte or Gruyere
- Sourdough: A marinated feta like Meredith Dairy or Chevoo
- Baguette: A funky, oozy washed rind like Epoisses
- Focaccia: A hard, salty sheep’s milk cheese like Fiore Sardo
- Miche: A sweet cheddar like Dubliner or Prairie Breeze
- Irish Brown Bread: a creamy blue cheese like Cashel Blue