A Statement Cheese: One for Thanksgiving

by kirstin on November 24, 2014

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When you hear “statement piece” from a woman about to attend a holiday party, she’s normally talking about the large piece of jewelry she’ll be wearing to attend said party. Perhaps a large or bright coral or clunky gold necklace, worn with a simple black dress. Besides calling attention to fantastic jewelry, wearing a statement piece is also a great way to pare down. The jewelry is doing all the meeting and greeting, charming the crowd, smiling at the babies- not much else needs to be done besides throwing on a shift underneath to serve as a platform.

It’s the same with statement cheese for Thanksgiving.

When things are crazy and I’m working four days a week at the wine shop advising people on what wine goes with turkey in addition to working on writing samples, recipes, pitches, and projects galore at home, I like to simplify what I bring to Thanksgiving (which we all know will always be fromage). In general, serving cheese is a great way to reduce the amount of cooking one does for events because besides remembering to take out a wheel or wedge an hour or two before the party so it comes to room temp and arranging it on a plate, nothing else needs to be done.

And its possible to do even less with cheese but have it shine even more by serving fewer cheeses.

This is statement cheese.

Serving from four to five cheeses is lovely, but sometimes the glory of a wheel can get lost when tastebuds are overextended. So here goes: try serving one spectacular cheese with varied condiments on the side so people can explore the pick with different flavors and textures. They’ll enjoy it on another level because they’ll have time to appreciate its nuances- like when a woman wears an LBD and a great chainmaille necklace without any rings or earrings so the eye isn’t distracted. Statement cheese likes all the attention too, and pairing it with sides keeps all eyes on it- a touch of sweetness here, a crunch there, a tart pairing here- shows different sides of the cheese.

Here’s how to do it.

 

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Statement Cheese Guide:

Pick one cheese. Make sure it’s one of your favorites. Stellar. A statement.

Pair it with three to five sides.

Here are two examples.

 

A Blue Cheese

Like… Bay Blue, Avalanche Blue, Shaker’s Blue, Stichelton, Roquefort

Sides:

Candied or toasted pecans, sliced fresh pears, local raw honey, broken pieces of milk chocolate, pistachio cream.

Getting it? You’re curating an experience.

 

triplecreme

 

A Soft Gooey Cheese

Forsterkase, Nettle Meadow Kunik, Harbison or Winnemere, Époisse (serve a whole wheel or large wedge)

Sides:

Rose confit, honeycomb, toasted hazelnuts, bacon jam, broken pieces of white chocolate, persimmons

 

 

What’s your favorite statement cheese?

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The first thing most Irish would ask upon meeting me upon learning that I was from California was, “How are you putting up with the weather here?” The ground was wet, my Wellies were in full use, my overgrown bangs curled haphazardly whenever I stepped outside, and the windshield wipers on my tiny car were working overtime. I adored it, I told them. After experiencing reseviors a third full in California for three years straight, I felt blissful in the Irish mist and showers. Things were green. Things were about thirty different types of green, in fact.

Yorkshire, Hawes, England.

Yorkshire, Hawes, England.

Today I’m curled up on my couch in California with a cup of Barry’s tea in hand – my second after my starter cup of coffee- watching the rain fall outside. The skies are grey and bright. After I publish this post, I’m thinking of putting on my Wellies and going for a walk.

Ladling at Stichelton

Ladling at Stichelton

My flight returned me to the states late last Monday night, and since then I’ve been experiencing a wealth of emotions, which might not surprise those I ended up crying on when saying goodbye (sorry, guys), and, a tad bit of jet lag. I visited three of the most wonderful countries in the world- Wales, England, Ireland- spent time making cheese with top cheesemakers kind enough to let me salt and play with their curds, revisited friends and made new ones, was genoroursly welcomed into the homes of families who I hadn’t met before and fed delicious things by them, and ate an insane amount of cheese and perhaps also drank a little local alcohol. Perhaps.

Neal's Yard Dairy, Borough  Market

Neal’s Yard Dairy, Borough Market

I had a blast. I’m unpacked. And, quite honestly, I’m ready to pack again. More news about that last part in future posts.

Over the next couple of months I’ll be posting here and there about my trip, and working on a project based on my time there. I”ll write all about it. Of course I’ll stay grounded in American-ness too- all about Thanksgiving cheese plates here next week. I also have some news to share soon. There will be a lot going on here, folks, check back in.

Ardrahan aging, North Cork, Ireland

Ardrahan aging, North Cork, Ireland

Marco at Toonsbridge Dairy

Marco at Toonsbridge Dairy

To all the cheesemakers and families who let me visit and didn’t yell at me in the make room when I did things wrong, thank you. I’ve never felt so welcomed by so many as I did over the past two plus months. I’m very, very lucky.

Sharpham, Devon, England

Sharpham, Devon, England

Lastly, if you don’t have anything to do next Tuesday or simply need something else to think about for a couple hours other than turkey or how to sit family members at the Thanksgiving table to encourage wellbeing, I’m teaching a class at the Cheese School next week (sorry, guys the Bubbles class in December is sold out) and there are a couple spots open: Winter Cheese and Wine . I’d love to say hello.

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