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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Holiday Cheese Board: Great with Any Seasonal Beer

I know we discuss all things BEER here at the Jolly Good Fellows, but I come from a beer pairing background and love to match beer with a great cheese. This story is from my former blog, Beer Meets Cheese. It doesn't speak to the beer as much as the cheese - but trust me, any of your favorite holiday ales will pair pleasantly with these cheeses. Before you run out to the store for some last minute items, consider putting together this cheese board to pair with your holiday beers.

Enjoy - and let us know what beer and cheese you like to to pair for the holidays.

Picture it... Phoenix, 2011.

I’m at my in-laws house for Christmas day. All of them have heard about my blogging and my love for beer and cheese. Suddenly, the dreaded question is asked: “why don’t you make a cheese board for Christmas brunch?”

Oh, crap. Now I have to put my money where my mouth is – or some clever phrase like that.

Did I mention I’m in a dry household?

Well – at least that helps to end the fear of pairing beer with my cheese.

Now all I need is to get my cheese board together.

But we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. While one of the 5 C’s of Arizona is cattle, dairy cows are definitely NOT part of this agreement. Finally, after going to several “standard” grocery stores around the Scottsdale area, I broke down and drove the 8 miles to Whole Foods Market. I could feel the rays of light shining down from heaven as they lit my path to the cheese counter – filled with lovely gourmet cheese! Finally, I feel like I’m pack in Portland for a moment (the sunshine outside tells me otherwise, but that’s why I’m here in Phoenix to avoid the rains of an Oregon Christmas).

Selection was easy from that point – a 5 month old Manchego cheese to be paired with a pear / apple chutney (made from the gift box from Harry & David’s – thanks aunt Molly and uncle John!) was the first selection (thanks to Deborah Madison's book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone for this suggestion!).

Then I moved to my old standards, a good aged Gouda and some creamy Taleggio. From here, I was stumped… but thankfully the friendly WFM cheesemonger was there to save me!

He suggested we try La Tur, an Italian cheese made from pasteurized goat, sheep, and cow’s milks. What we discovered was love at first bite! I would describe the cheese in my own words, but I find that Murray’s Cheese shop of New York City does it the best justice:
From the great wine region of Piemonte comes La Tur: a dense, creamy blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk. Runny and oozing around the perimeter with a moist, cakey, palette-coating paste, its flavor is earthy and full, with a lingering lactic tang. The effect is like ice cream served from a warm scoop: decadent and melting from the outside in.

Um…yes, please! I’d like to crawl into a bucket of this and not come out until the New Year… oh, wait, you mean I can do that!? Ye-es!
Seriously, spend the extra duckets to buy this cheese next time you pick up some food for a party (impressing your friends = priceless), or maybe just hoard it for yourself once your realize how delicious it is!

For pictures of the entire cheese board and brunch, please check out my Flikr page HERE.

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