Nothing pulls together a gathering like a cheese plate. The mix of flavors and textures never fails to impress. I’m a huge cheese plate fanatic, and I’ve experimented with many a combination. Below are some of my favorite assortments that will go wonderfully with any occasion. An easy, simple, accessible starter is pimento cheese and crostini. Pimento cheese is a familiar, comforting flavor that adds some heartiness to the cheese plate. When paired with a crisp, sturdy base like crostini or baguette slices, it transforms into an elegant and delicious addition. For the bold of heart, a spicy pimento cheese never fails to add a kick. I chose a pimento cheese highly recommended by my roommate, Robert’s Original Pimento Cheese. This dip, made in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., is a creamy blend of mild cheese with pimento flavor shining through. This cheese cost $6.49 for 12 oz. with a VIC card at Harris Teeter — a great deal for the size. Gouda cheese, plum slices and stone-ground wheat thins are a mild pairing that any cheese lover will find attractive. This pairing is sweet and irresistible. Plum slices perfectly complement the crisp crackers with their juicy sweetness that is ever so tart. The fresh fruit adds a nice pop of color to the plate as well. I selected the Castello Reserve Gouda, also from Harris Teeter. This cheese is salty with a smooth texture and a slightly bitter, aged edge. It costs $8.46 for around 8 oz. of cheese. Goat cheese is a much stronger flavor, but Cypress Grove’s Purple Haze goat cheese paired with Carr’s Rosemary Crackers and a dollop of fig spread hits the spot every time. The creamy, tangy spread leaves you wanting more after the first bite. Fig spread is a must because it tones down the sharp edge of this cheese, making it more approachable. The rich, buttery fig spread adds a great texture to this smooth cheese as well. Cypress Grove’s Purple Haze cheese is a goat’s milk cheese that contains pieces of lavender and fennel pollen. This 4 oz. serving costs $8.99 at Harris Teeter but, if you’re a goat cheese lover like myself, it is completely worth the price. This cheese is the most irresistible for me, I find myself going back for cracker after cracker until the wheel is gone. I chose to include a side of Organic Hope Hummus in the flavor Spicy Avocado. This dip tastes like a mixture between guacamole and traditional hummus — its initial flavor is delicate but a wave of spice is sure to sneak up on you if you keep snacking. This is best paired with Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks. I find gluten free pretzels to have a crisper texture and prefer them to regular pretzels. This hummus costs $4.99 for an 8 oz. container and would be delicious with tortilla chips or on a sandwich as well. I love including other finger foods with my cheese plates to add balance and satisfy unexpected cravings. One of my favorite additions to a cheese plate is olives. Small pickles, nuts or dried fruits also add a nice mix of textures and flavors and make you seem incredibly prepared for whatever event you’re hosting. I picked a selection of mixed, seasoned olives from Harris Teeter for $3.88 from the olive bar. While these olives are inexpensive, the Harris Teeter variety are rather oily and I prefer the selection from Whole Foods or Foods of All Nations instead. Cheese plates, while they can be rather expensive, are incredibly easy to prepare, delicious and photogenic. The creativity that comes with cheese, fruit and cracker pairings are endless. These are a few of my favorites, and I hope you enjoy! Sadie Goodman is a Food Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.