Happy New Year! Savoring New York had a bit of a hiatus. Its editor-in-chief (moi) was busy with various projects and holiday celebrations. Whenever I receive guests, I put together a cheese plate. It’s almost effortless and positively delicious if you know how to pick the right combination of cheeses. Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s best to pick from three to six cheeses, including at least one from each milk type: cow, goat, and sheep. A soft cheese like a brie, a hard sheep’s milk cheese like a Spanish Manchego, a goat milk cheese, a hard aged cow milk cheese like Beaufort or farmhouse Cheddar, and a blue cheese offer a good range of flavors and textures. Since cheeses should be served at room temperature, I remove them from the refrigerator at least an hour before guests arrive, and if possible I pick them out on the day of the event. (Home fridges are usually too cold and not humid enough for most types of cheese). If guests will be doing the slicing, I lay out one knife per cheese (and sometimes a spoon for a really soft one). The presentation should be kept simple to let the product shine- cheeses are lovely to look at! Sometimes I’ll serve fresh sliced apples or pears on a separate plate. And there’s always crusty bread or plain water crackers. Since cheese pairs well with a variety of drinks, including wine, champagne and beer, it’s hard to go wrong as far as libations go. An expert fromager I interviewed a few years ago suggested buying a maximum of six ounces per person. He also recommended buying more of the firmer cheeses because a little bit goes a long way, and any leftover hard cheese is easier to store. Here’s a selection of some of my favorite cheese shops in New York; all of them offer you the possibility of eating a cheesy snack there, if you’re not planning on taking the stuff home.