Tag Archives: thanksgiving

One of my holiday cheese plates

I actually made two cheese plates for Thanksgiving this year. One for my parents’ house and one for our little gathering the day after. I only took pics of the one at our apartment so if you are a cheesemaker reading this, be sure your cheese was on the other plate!

This was the Hermann St. cheese plate:

Front row, l-r Beau’s Blend, Bleu des Basques, Benina Crema
Back row, l-r Pau (St. Mateu),* Rush Creek, Prairie Bloom (mislabeled as “cow”. Sorry, it was a long week)

And what the heck, let’s have another picture of the Bellwether Whole Milk Ricotta with pinot-soaked cherries!

If you wanna talk about underrated cheeses, the Benina Crema is definitely under-appreciated. Made somewhere in Merced County the cheese is now being aged longer than the version we carried a year ago and it is tremendous. It’s sweet and sharp like an aged Gouda but organic, hand-made, and from grass-based milk. The Burroughs Family eggs are awesome too, if you can find them!

The Beau’s Blend is another California cheese from down near Watsonville. The Garden Variety organic sheep milk is combined with the milk from the Schoch Dairy down the road. This may have been the most popular cheese on the plate (except for the ricotta/cherry combo).

Rush Creek actually was probably the most popular. It just disappeared so fast it was like it was never there. I’ve written about this cheese before.

Bleu des Basques is another under-appreciated cheese. Think more interesting Istara Ossau-Iraty with blue veins! Awesome.

I will admit that the Prairie Bloom was a free sample. Hey, cheese is expensive, even to me! Still this was a really nice little goat brie from Missouri. I know nothing about it except what we can both read here.

This is what the cheese plate looked like after about 2 hours.
the cheese plate is dead

People love cheese.

Please feel free to share any good Thanksgiving cheese stories in the comments. What did you serve?

*Anyone know why this cheese was once called Pau and now is called St. Mateu?

Hit of the Holiday

I served a lot of great cheeses for Thanksgiving, but this was the hit of the holiday. Bellwether Farms Whole Milk Ricotta topped with Friend in Cheeses Pinot Cherries:
ricotta and cherries

It was milky. It was sweet. It was boozy. It was awesome.

I was going to wait until our x-mas party to try this, but after Lenny from Bellwether came to the store and did a demo, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. Thanks again Lenny!

Thanksgiving cheese

Hey there. I went into my typical pattern of internet silence around the big food holiday. Too much to do in the week before Thanksgiving, as all U.S.-grocery store workers know. You have to wonder about anyone who works in retail food who has time to blog in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

On the “Culture Magazine” facebook, they asked, “What cheeses are you serving for Thanksgiving and I responded, “Whatever doesn’t sell!” That’s true to a point. I would have brought, for example, the Nettle Meadow Kunik if we hadn’t have run out but I wasn’t going to buy any out from under customers, at least for Thanksgiving when the cheese is not the main focus of our food table.

But I did buy the Uplands Creamery Rush Creek Reserve, a raw milk Vacherin Mont D’or-style cheese from the folks who are the only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society Best in Show (for Pleasant Ridge Reserve). True, it didn’t sell, but they didn’t arrive in the store until Wednesday at 1 PM so they were hardly neglected.

Anyways, here is artsy photo of the cheese plate from the Thanksgiving thing in our apartment:

Here’s the more detailed picture:
From top left: Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel/Tumbleweed, Uplands Creamery Rush Creek Reserve, French Fromager D’affinois*, Swiss Antique Gruyere, and Croation Paski Sir** You can’t really seem ‘em but there is a huge selection of Potter’s Crackers from Wisconsin that went along with this.

I forgot to take a picture of the cheese I brought to my parents’ house but that’s ok, right? Feel free to share your Thanksgiving cheese thoughts or pictures in the comments.

*As someone once wrote, “like flystrips around dairy cows, the D’Affinois draws the casual cheese eater at parties away from the expensive stuff”
**This was a free sample that I just got so I threw it on the plate. I am breaking a long-held policy here of not mentioning cheeses that people ask me to mention, but this is a really good sheep milk cheese that we will try and carry when it becomes available. You can read about it here

My Thanksgiving cheese plate

I know this is a little late. I had some technical problems with my camera but it’s all worked out now. And I know you all love pretty pictures. Besides this is a nice diversion from dealing with the non-writing parts of putting out a book.

I usually post the cheeses I bring to my family Thanksgiving every year but I don’t want people thinking this is somehow my endorsement for top five cheeses in the world or anything. This is the cheese my family would want to eat before a Thanksgiving meal. (Though every year the cheese plate gets bigger and the meal gets smaller)

Here we go in no particular order:

Di Stefano Burrata
A little heart attack in a cup. SoCal-made fresh mozzarella filled with cream (Panna) imported from Italy.

di stefano burrata

Another favorite for my Dad who loves the stinky German cheese. I often alternate family gatherings between bringing this and Schloss by Rouge et Noir.

dutch cheese
The Dutch cheese that thinks it’s Californian!* Awesome sheep-milk Gouda imported by Humboldt Fog-makers, Cypress Grove Chevre.

Robiola Nostrano
robiola nostrano
The first batch we got was mixed milk, this one was all cow, all the time. All good.

Dunbarton Blue:
Sorry, no picture. My family devoured this and we won’t have any in the store until tomorrow. Amazing Wisconsin cheddar with blue veining. This was my family’s favorite cheese this year.

I know this cheese is so last month at this point, but there’s not a better Alpine cheese around right now.

On a side note, I wanted to bring a Vacherin Mont D’or but my buying was too tight. We ran out the night before Thanksgiving at 5 PM and I had forgotten to tuck one aside for me. Oh well, there’s always the next holiday.

*That’s a little Parrano joke there.

The blur of Thanksgiving week

Oh Thanksgiving, the annual American food holiday… whatever one’s political take on it it’s the traditional biggest single-day food event of the year for your beloved grocery workers.

I worked 9 straight days before the holiday (partly because I had taken the weekend before that off to drive to SoCal) so if I owe you a phone call or email, feel free to remind me. It was kind of a daze. Here are some highlights:

1. The failure of the American educational system: I understand people being a little shaky when they are entertaining their pregnant friends for a food holiday. However the lack of basic science among these people is truly frightening. Witness this exchange:

Thanksgiving Host: “I need a Gruyere for a recipe but I need one that’s pasteurized. I have a pregnant friend coming over.”
Me: “All real Gruyere is made from raw milk.* What are you making?”
(TH describes a casserole that will cook in the oven for over 45 minutes)
Me: “Well, you don’t really need to worry about it then. First, the curds for Gruyere are cooked for a long time before the cheese is made, but even with a truly raw, aged cheese, if you bake it ‘til the cheese bubbles for awhile, there’s no worry about safety. Any potential food borne pathogens would be killed by that.
TH: Look, I don’t want to argue. Just show me a pasteurized Gruyere.

(For the tenth straight year I brought my camera to work to document the craziness and then was too busy to take any pictures. Still, I wanted something to break up the text. This is what we had on sale in November)
cheese sales november 2009

2. Reps who are bored because their work is done: I understand that the week before Thanksgiving is a down time for other people. But please don’t come in to the store without an appointment the week before a holiday and try to sell me new products. It’s annoying!

2a. Immediate demands for action on things that are someone else’s fault I have one small company that just refuses to act in smart, professional ways. Generally I find it endearing, but the fact that they refuse to send invoices with their orders is annoying. Luckily I’m honest, because they don’t seem to keep business records. Sending an email that basically says, “Here are all the invoices for the last 3 months, please see which ones you’ve paid, and pay the ones you haven’t” will not be well-received any week, but especially this week. The fact that your “neighbor” sometimes gets your mail and cashes your checks is not an excuse.**

3. Misleading media on cheese The fact that many people think Humboldt Fog is a blue cheese*** is a constant cheese worker correction. No big deal. But, somewhere this year, someone must have referred to it that way somewhere in the media. In the same way that all of a sudden 20 people ask for mascarpone in the same day because it was in a Food Section recipe, people came in asking for Humboldt Fog Blue. I thought it was just me, but Sweet Cheezus and Ilipodscrill confirmed that they had the same experience too. The best was the person who asked, ‘Humboldt Fog is the same thing as Pt. Reyes Blue, right?” If only they’d added “and it’s made by Cowgirl Creamery, right?” they would have hit the most common local cheese mistakes in just one sentence.

Because I was cranky and a Californian, I replied, “You know Humboldt County is about 200 miles from Pt. Reyes, right?” If you are reading this, Bay Area Transplant, sorry for my tone!

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can remember right now. Who had time to write things down last week? Not cheese workers, that’s for sure.

*Honestly, this is why I like to carry the Rothkase “Gruyere”. First off, it’s a pretty awesome cheese. Secondly, even though I am not really down with it calling itself a Gruyere since it is not from the Alps, the fact that it is not made with raw milk makes it the default pregnancy and compromised immune system cheese for that type of cheese and keeps me out of arguments about basic science.
**as it turns out we had paid (and checks were cashed, possibly by the “neighbor”) every invoice more than 15 days out.
***That’s ash, not mold. Isn’t is pretty?