Pierre Androuet’s Encyclopedia of Cheese is a useful reference guide to designing a proper cheese course at home. His recommendations include:
Order of the speciesEating in order of increasing flavour. Arrange cheeses from weakest to strongest.
How muchSelect an odd number – usually 3 or 5 cheeses. General crowd pleasers are a buttery brie, an interesting firm cheese like a spiced gouda, and perhaps a rich blue.
Sides Serve with fresh baguette or simple crackers.
Serving temperature Allow cheese to reach room temperature before serving – 1-2 hours.
Presentation Androuet recommends serving cheese on a wooden, wicker or ceramic tray, decorated with leaves, napkins or doilies. He also has a ‘weakness for the blue pottery of Rouen’; presentation is a personal thing.
Unfortunately, Halifax does not have a cheesemonger (too bad---what a great job title), but there are still several places to find good cheese.
The Halifax Farmers' Market provides a variety of good sources for cheese, including: Boulangerie La Vendeenne – a small, changing, but carefully arranged selection of French artisanal cheeses. Dennis Johnston sources his cheeses here. Check our their buches of goat's cheese, a hard cantal or strong, smelly époisses. Valley-based Foxhill Cheese offers a variety of cheeses. Try some of their spiced havartis with dill or fenugreek seeds. Aylesford's Ran-Cher Acres makes some lovely soft and tangy goat's cheese. Sweet William’s Country Sausage, typically where you'd find les voisins du fromage - charcuterie - stocks hard cheeses like swiss or cheddar. Pete’s Frootique is reliable. They sell two cheddars made by Cow’s in PEI (the people behind the ice cream). One is the familar old cheddar, and the other is wrapped in cloth and called (you got it) Avonlea Clothbound cheddar. It recently won an award.