December is underway, which only means one thing– holiday gatherings! With all the festivities and merriment, I’m sure you’ll be attending many potlucks and parties. What food could brighten up these events other than CHEESE? I figured that I would share a few of my favorites cheeses so that you could bring something delicious to your next holiday shindig.
Mount Tam is one of my all-time favorite cheeses. It’s a Cowgirl Creamery classic. How can you really go wrong with a triple cream? It is a mild cheese, reminiscent of brie, but with a more complex flavor. When you let it come to room temperature, it becomes rich, creamy and smooth like butter (like butta). Mount Tam goes well with apples, Marcona almonds, grapes and quince (or really anything). My favorite is to eat Mount Tam with warm, slightly toasted raisin walnut bread (I’m drooling as I type this sentence).
Humboldt Fog is a goat cheese with ash. The very first time I ever had it was at Gary Danko, a magical San Francisco restaurant with an amazing cheese cart. I used to not be a fan of goat cheese, but all of that changed after I had Humboldt Fog. This goat cheese’s rind is lined with ash and the middle had a little bit of ash too. It’s not smoky ash (it’s actually a vegetable ash) and I love to eat it with Carr’s water crackers. Since it’s a stronger cheese, you should pair it with a simple cracker or bread.
Barely Buzzed cheese is a hard cheese and the rind is rubbed with coffee grinds and lavender. I’m normally not a fan of floral things in my food (yes, I find rosewater disgusting), but the lavender taste is not that strong. I love coffee and the coffee grinds on this cheese have a rich, bold flavor. I’m in love with these cheese and it tastes great paired with some prosciutto or salami.
O’Bannon cheese was just introduced to me by one of the nice cheese ladies at Cowgirl Creamery. I asked for a goat cheese recommendation and told her that I always get Humboldt Fog. O’Bannon comes vacuum packed in plastic and it’s a goat cheese wrapped in date leaves that have been soaking in Bourbon whiskey. Wow, this cheese was delicious. It was actual more mild that Humboldt Fog and the Bourbon taste wasn’t overwhelming. The presentation was gorgeous too because you can unwrap it and serve it on a plate on top of the date leaves.
Mahon cheese is a cows milk cheese from Spain. This picture doesn’t really do the cheese justice. It has a nice cheddar taste and the Mahon that I tried had paprika rubbed in the rind. I’m guessing that there are different varieties. These cheese is also milder (clearly, I’m not a fan of stinky, strong cheese) and also pairs really well with a charcuterie plate and some cornichons (mini pickles). You could also pair it with honey or some honeycomb for a savory/sweet combination.
And, there you have it! May your holidays be blessed with love, laughter and plenty of cheese! Feel free to share your favorites too!