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This is NOT a sponsored post. I’m just that passionate about sharing the things I love with my friends. Although Cabot Creameries DID send me some cheese, they asked for nothing in return. But I liked it so much that I wanted to share what I’ve discovered with each of you! So all opinions are strictly my own!
It’s almost Christmas Eve, and I always hear discussions in regard to what people will be serving on The Night Before Christmas. At my house, we’re very often heading out to a Christmas Eve service at church, and after all the hustle and bustle of the holiday preparations, I want a break from cooking when I return home, and am preparing to celebrate Christmas. Give me something easy! But at the same time, give me something holiday-worthy! A special treat is what I’d like, to make my evening merry and bright.
As my little gift to you, I thought I’d share my family’s holiday tradition, and give you some excellent recommendations, in case you’d like to try something similar.
There’s not much I love more about the holidays than the special treat of sampling different varieties of cheeses and sipping a nice glass of wine. An impromptu and easy-to-throw-together Christmas Eve board of cheeses, salamis, dried meats and fresh fruits is what I look forward to every year for Christmas Eve. It’s easy, beautiful, delicious, festive, and fun.
I know a fair amount about cheese. When I lived in Switzerland, I had easy access to an array of Swiss and European cheeses that I’d never tried before, and I took full advantage of living there to expand my knowledge of various types of cheese. When I came home from Switzerland, I took a part time job at a Hickory Farms cheese store, and had an opportunity there to use what I’d learned from living in Europe, plus learn some more about North American varieties of cheese. My sisters love cheese as much as I do, and we like to try some new variety each year, as well as being sure to grab a wedge of our individual favorites.
A couple of months ago, the nice folks at Cabot Creamery kindly sent me 3 blocks of their new regional cheddars to try. They didn’t ask for a blog post: there were no strings attached! All they asked was that if I liked their cheeses, that I would tell my friends and neighbors. Well, they ARE delicious! And so as my little gift back to the 1200 farm family owners of Cabot Creamery Co-op, I decided to tell my friends on my blog about the little cheddar tasting we held last night. (Just one other thing I’ll mention: I love the idea that Cabot Creamery is a co-op, owned by farm families in New York and New England! Farm family businesses are the kind of business that I am more than happy to support. How about you?)
At the beginning of November, the particular varieties of cheddar that I’m going to tell you about in this post could only be found at Publix and Walmart, and only in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, so at present, their availability may still be limited. But I have long been a fan of Cabot Creamery’s White Extra Sharp Cheddar, so even if you don’t live in one of the southern states I mentioned, you can still grab a block of Cabot Creamery’s wonderful cheddar to try at your house.
On Christmas Eve, we won’t be limiting our tasting to just a cheddar tasting, like we did for this photo shoot. It’s likely we’ll have a triple crème Brie (one sister’s favorite) that we will melt slightly in the oven and serve with a crusty French bread, and maybe a Wensleydale with cranberries, and my other sister’s favorite, Hunter Cheese, which looks like a slice of layer cake with frosting: the “cake” being the bleu cheese, and the “icing” being the cheddar.
To complete the cheese platter, we’ll add a selection of salamis and dried meats, some fruit (typically grapes and Honeycrisp Apples, but dried apricots and craisins and nuts would be nice, too), some crackers and a French baguette. With crackers, there are as many varieties as you can imagine, so go with what your family likes. A water cracker will help you truly taste the cheese, without injecting its own flavor…if that’s what you want. I kind of feel like a Brie NEEDS a slice of a baguette…but maybe that’s just me. Some people prefer the cracker.
If you want to do a cheddar tasting, like we did for this post, the three regional varieties they sent me were delicious, and are easily available at your local Publix or Walmart, so you won’t have to make any extra stops at any fancy-shmancy specialty cheese stores. Just grab them while you’re doing your regular grocery shopping. All three were delicious, and all three unique, so if your family likes a good cheddar cheese, I’d suggest trying all three, and deciding for yourself which is your favorite. They sent me a White Oak Aged Cheddar, a cheddar called Farmhouse Reserve, and finally, a cheddar called Alpine Blend.
(And for the record, of the three cheddars, my daughter and I both preferred the Alpine Blend. Its creamy flavor really WAS lovely, and really did remind me of some of the creamier cheeses of Switzerland, so good choice of name/branding, Cabot Creameries!)
I called my wine buddy, Denny Jiosa, and asked him to recommend 3 wines for our cheese tasting, two reds and a white. While Denny and my husband and I see eye to eye on the types of reds we love, Denny and I have a slight parting of the way in that he will choose a red, every time, and if I have a choice, I will just as often gravitate toward a white. (And it’s like pulling teeth to get him to recommend a good white for me.) Based on my descriptions of the cheeses, Denny recommended the following three wines for our wine tasting:
For the White Oak Aged Cheddar (a balanced cheddar, with a hint of the duskiness you’d get from aging in an oak wine cask), Denny recommended a Schild Estate Shiraz (2010).
For the Farmhouse Reserve (bold & creamy extra sharp with a northeast bite), Denny recommended a Luigi Bosca Malbec (2010) ;.
For the Alpine Blend (very creamy in flavor, but slightly reminiscent of a Parmigiano Reggiano), Denny recommended the LaMarca Prosecco.
We only opened one bottle last night for our cheddar tasting, the Schild Estate Shiraz, but I can tell you it was absolutely luscious, and beautifully enhanced all three cheeses. When I tasted it, I tasted cherries, clove and a hint of dark chocolate at the finish. Yummy!
So, there it is, folks!My little Christmas gift to you: recommendations for an easy and delicious holiday spread, that you just might want to become your family’s little tradition as well.
And don’t forget to pin this post, so you can remember the names of wines and cheeses that you want to try!
Tuesday 24th of December 2013
John and I were just shopping when he suddenly developed a craving for crackers and cheese. After picking out one of the grossly expensive imported cheddars I remembered this post and told him about the Cabot people. We now have a block of White Oak Cheddar in the fridge and I will let you know what the Brit thinks of it.
Friday 27th of December 2013
He loved it, thanks for the tip Susan.
Helene Cohen Bludman
Monday 23rd of December 2013
Ahhh. Susan, what time should I be there?