Celebrating the Holidays with Family, Friends,
and Plenty of Cheese
I started my cheese-mas celebrating on Wednesday, when my dear friend Adrienne was visiting her homeland of Chicago from Los Angeles. We broke into the holy grail of Christmas cheese, Rush Creek Reserve. This is one of those cheeses that curd nerds look forward to all year long. It’s a young cheese with a goopy texture, a fragrant orange rind, and a wreath of spruce bark that encircles the wheel. The paste is rich, silky, and tastes of freshly rendered bacon fat. We ate it with warm multigrain bread from Publican Quality Bread (my favorite baker), cornichons, and local Granny Smith apples wrapped in bacon from Butcher Larder (my favorite butcher shop). We destroyed the whole wheel in about five minutes.
On Christmas Day, I served my family a lush spread loosely inspired by my German heritage. I set out Appalachian (raw cow milk from Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia) paired with rosemary Marcona almonds, cured olives from Osteria Via Stato (one of my favorite Italian restaurants for whom I manager social media), dates stuffed with brandy-soaked water chestnuts and wrapped in bacon, salt-crusted ciabatta bread paired with Kerrygold butter and a trio of salts, and Jacob’s homemade pretzels paired with red wine salami, pickles, and beer cheese made with Carr Valley cheddar and Revolution Brewery Fistmas Ale. While it was well-recieved, I was almost too exhausted from the preparation to even enjoy it. Next year I’m nixing all hot appetizers and including more varieties of cheeses, charcuteries, crackers, and accoutrements. The pretzels, now deemed Wentzel’s Pretzels, are here to stay.
The day after Christmas, I pulled out a dessert plate featuring two flavors of Mont Chevre logs, cranberry cinnamon and pumpkin, and a wedge of Roquefort with almond windmill cookies that I bought from Petoskey Cheese. The chevre and cookies were great together, but the Roquefort was a touch too overwhelming for a family gathering, even after we had consumed copious amounts of booze.
All together, I’m proud of my Christmas cheese offerings but I have some room for improvement come cheese-mas 2016. What did you serve this year?