It’s the season of gifting – are you freaking out yet? I’m not, because every year I give my family and friends the same thing: a cheese gift basket filled with a wedge, jam to pair, some crackers, and perhaps a beverage too. It’s my favorite thing to give because it provides my loved ones with an experience they normally would never get for themselves. AND you give them a gift template they can recreate for someone else!
Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving.
A cheese gift basket also means supporting local artisans, those people who work long, laborious hours to bring you their beautiful products, like Quince & Apple out of Madison, Wisconsin. Each batch of Quince & Apple preserves are handmade with the best seasonal ingredients and extra TLC. They create subtle, balanced flavors, like “figs and black tea” and “raspberry and rose,” that complement cheeses rather than overwhelm them. These are the kind of preserves that will make love to your cheese in a mutually respectful way.
Not everyone is going to go out and buy themselves beautiful preserves like these – but if you put Quince & Apple in their hands, they’ll be overjoyed. You can order gift sets through Quince & Apple’s website, but I like to put them together myself. That handmade touch is just so personal. Buy cheeses that travel well, either hard aged cheeses that don’t require refrigeration or small wheels that come in a protective box. I don’t recommend blue cheeses because they tend to sweat and stink up your gift pile. Just stuff a box or basket with decorative tissue and shredded paper, then nestle your gifts in the box. Finish with sprigs of rosemary, a hand-written note, and a beverage pairing suggestion. I recommend something bubbly – ’tis the season, after all!
Here are some cheese gift basket ideas for all of the people in your life:
For Your Folks:
Q&A Tart Cherry White Tea with Vermont Creamery St Albans and Baguette
Warm and melty brie-style cheese is phenomenal topped with tart cherry preserves and served with a crusty baguette. Include this recipe for serving this silky cow’s milk cheese in the gift tag. Pairing suggestion: Champagne.
For That Salty Friend:
Q&A Shallot Confit with Sartori Cheese MontAmoré and Effie’s Rye Cakes
A stellar combination that will leave that friend who always has something to say speechless. Sweet and savory shallot confit brings out the fruity notes in this young parmesan and the rye cakes add an herbaceous crunch. Pairing Suggestion: Imperial Red Ale.
For Your Lover:
Q&A Fig & Black Tea with Vermont Creamery Bonne Bouche and Crackers
Here’s a dark and sexy pairing: these fig preserves have notes of molasses balanced with a touch of bitterness from the tea. It’s sinfully tasty nestled below creamy Bonne Bouche goat cheese on a crispy cracker. Pairing suggestion: black lacy lingerie.
For That Weirdo Who Doesn’t Like Cheese:
Q&A Orange Marmalade with Vermont Creamery Butter and Pecan Scones
Even if they don’t like cheese, they definitely love butter. Introduce them to a quality cultured butter, like this cute little basket from Vermont Creamery. Gift it with a couple scones and orange marmalade with lemons. Pairing suggestion: a hot cup of black coffee.
For Your Co-Worker:
Sampling of Q&A Mini Jars with Brie d’Isigny and Crackers
For people you don’t know very well, give them an array of choices with these mini jars. If they happen to dislike one, then they can give it away and keep the ones they like. A simple wheel of Brie d’Isigny is a mild and creamy canvas to any of these flavors. Pairing suggestion: sparkling cider or a bottle of Brut.
Special thanks to Quince & Apple for sponsoring this post and supporting cheese education.
Additional thanks to Vermont Creamery and Sartori Cheese for sending samples over
to the Cheese Sex Death headquarters!