I travel a lot for my work so I often spend holidays away from home, an inevitability that has its pros and its cons (i.e. no crazy family fun… but no crazy family drama). This Thanksgiving, I ended up in Baltimore, one of the places I spend time regularly as a consultant. Over the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten to know some fantastic Baltimoreans, and as soon as I found out I’d be in Charm City for Turkey Day my new friends Howard and Melanie asked me to join their family for dinner. Naturally, I said yes right away.
On Thanksgiving I arrived at their country home and felt immediately at ease, being a country boy myself. The house was soon filled with grandmothers, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends; it was very sweet to see the whole family gathered together. I had brought a selection of cheeses and crackers for the feast, as I’m apt to do on such occasions. I’ve found it’s always the perfect way to endear myself to new folks. Heh heh.
For this occasion, I figured I needed to keep the cheeses as approachable as possible, since I had no idea who’d be eating them. I brought a couple of pieces of Green Hill, a double-cream soft-ripening cow’s milk cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy – always a crowd favorite. I also brought some Kunik from Nettle Meadow Dairy in upstate New York. It’s a rich blend of delicious goat’s milk with a bit of Jersey cow’s cream added. The third cheese I brought was just recently introduced to me by Ashley Seifer from Baldor Specialty Foods, a cheese and fine food distributor here in NYC. The cheese was called St. Stephen, made by Four Fat Fowl (also located in upstate New York). It’s a small-format triple-cream that’s rich and delicious; it pairs very well with champagne – be sure to remember that for the New Year! I served it atop of Charcoal Squares from The Fine Cheese Co., and the pure white cheese with the black crackers was visually stunning.
All afternoon long I had a blast watching these new cheese lovers of all ages try out and enjoy unfamiliar cheeses. I love exposing people to as-yet-undiscovered flavors and telling them the stories behind each cheese’s dairy.
At the end of the feast, Howard and Melanie were kind enough to invite me back for next Thanksgiving (should I happen to find myself in Baltimore again). I can’t say whether it was because they loved my cheese selections or if it was thanks to the enormous pile of Caffarel chocolates I left behind, but either way, I’m planning on taking them up on their offer.
Additional reporting by Madeleine James.
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