December 28, 2011

Christmas Eating is Serious Business.

I promise there were no reindeer sweaters in the making of this blog entry.  Seriously.  I don't think the Christmas Eve guests would have stood for it.  Instead I chose to impress them with a selection of awesome food rather than a polyester Santa hat.  Judging by the silence (and occasional bickering over choice bits) after I brought the cheese board out I believe my Xmas lay out was a delicious hit.
Being that I had been working non-stop for two weeks at my day job Cheesemongering I decided cooking for the holiday was right out.  I wanted to be predictable.  Because my predictable is other peoples holy-crap-this-is-the-best-thing-I've-ever-put-in-my-face.  Yeah, it's like that.
I would like to say what I fed my friends last Saturday was the culmination of many hours of contemplation and planning.  It wasn't.  I wrote it out on the back of a receipt while cramming half of a chicken salad sandwich into my gob (i was hungry. don't judge.)  Still, I'm fairly smug (obviously) about the amazingness I call my Christmas Cheese Board 2011.  Sure, this trio and respective tasty bits could have been put together by anyone (not to mention given a more creative name).  But I am here to take the credit.

Cheese Clockwise from Top Right: Taleggio, Pierre Robert Brie, Stilton Blue. Meat: Soppressata (far), Prosciutto di Parma
 This plate consisted of three rather different cheeses: Taleggio, Pierre Robert Brie, and Stilton Farmhouse Blue.  If there is such thing as "sexy" cheese I feel like Taleggio is the bar by which other cheeses are measured.  It is an Italian cows milk washed rind cheese with a mottled orange crust that has a pervasive salt and earth aroma (like a 70's porn star. see, sex-ay.) Its chewy insides bulge with a romp of toasted hay, yeast, and more than a touch of beefiness.
The Taleggio was set as the anchor of my plate.  The other cheeses were chosen as compliments for the anchor, if you will.  Their bright acidity was used to combat the fatty palate-stomping abilities of the Taleggio.  Stilton Blue, hailing from the English county of Derbyshire, has a high singing salty acidity tempered by fruit and grassy notes from its long days in the aging caves.  The Pierre Robert, a fabulously fluffy wheel from Seine-et-Marne, also kept the acidity high but with a more refined texture close to that of mousse echoing with earth and lactose.  While both cheeses were little shining stars on their own, each played fabulously in the supporting role.
To keep my guests stomachs happy and to help the cheese shine even more I chose a few meats, nuts and a good crispbread as companion.  The Framani Sopresatta and Proscuitto di Parma made the classic salty-&-sweet paring with any of the cheeses.  The Marcona almonds also played a similar role but added a delightfully surprising varience in texture.  My favorite go-to cracker of all time, 34 degree Crispbread Black Pepper, made a stand-by appearance.  I admit, more than once I just had a cracker by its self.  I really could down (and have) a whole box of those peppery delights.  (The Quicos (i.e. Fancy Corn Nuts), well, those were just there because they're tasty.  They got to sit by everyone else because I felt bad for them.) So go forth and use Christmas Cheese Board 2011 outright or to inspire your own spread for the New Year Holiday.  Here a little bubbly, too, would not be found amiss.
My other favorite part: the kickin' nutcracker knives from Ian's Mom

I have to share this. Knitted for me by my Uncle. More on this amazing gift here.