1. For the tart plum and cinnamon jam: add plums, honey, cinnamon stick, water, zest and lemon juice to a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
2. Transfer to jars and let thicken at room temperature for an hour. Remove the cinnamon stick and refrigerate until ready to use. NOTE: The jam will keep for up to a month in the fridge.
3. For the dessert cheese platter: a maximum of three cheeses, each of a different milk variety, country of origin, style or age. Remember that just about any fine cheese can be turned into a dessert course.
4. Allow cheeses to come to room temperature before serving. This allows the flavors to really blossom and show their true potential. Removing from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before serving is optimal.
5. Choose your serving platter: Use a slab of slate or a flat wooden board, being sure that it is large enough to hold the cheeses without crowding them. Arrange the cheeses with the cut sides facing out, and with a small cheese knife for each variety. Metallic pens are great for writing on slate, ceramic or glass platters to label the cheese.
6. Fruit: Try fresh figs, grapes, pears, apples, and stone fruits like cherries, plums and apricots. Dried fruits also work well.
7. Nuts: Marcona almonds, hazelnuts, and toasted pecans help to highlight the sweet and nutty qualities in cheese.
8. Honey: Its sweetness can turn just about any cheese into dessert. It’s exceptionally tasty with blue cheese. You can serve different varieties of honey, just like the cheeses. Try a clover honey, a blackberry honey, and a wildflower honey.
9. Jam: Apricot, raspberry and cherry jam are great choices. I served a Tart Plum & Cinnamon Jam alongside my cheeses (recipe below).
10. Different wines compliment different cheeses: Light Cheeses (i.e. goat cheese, feta, young cheddar) go with an unoaked or lightly oaked white wine such as Chardonnay, or a light-bodied red wine such as Pinot Noir.
11. Semi-Hard Cheeses (i.e. Aged Havarti, Gouda, Extra Mature Cheddar) can stand up to bigger-style red wines such as Merlot and Zinfandel.
12. Pungent Cheeses (i.e. blue cheese, stilton, gorgonzola) pair nicely with sweet, dessert wines like Port, Sweet Riesling, Ice Wine and Sherry.