Hello, my friends! This past weekend, M. Cheesemonger and I celebrated our birthdays (his is in October, mine in September) with our friends with a picnic in lovely Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. We prepared an all-star cheese plate for you! Fleet Week, with appearances by the impressive (and noisy) Blue Angels also took place!
Here are the cheeses and many delicious condiments M. Cheesemonger and I shared with our friends.
Italy, Caseificio Dell’Alta Langa, cow, sheep, goat, pasteurized.
This crowd-pleasing soft cheese is an easy choice for parties. So many people love its lactic, slightly tangy quality, ice cream-soft texture, and velvety mouthfeel. It was among the first to go at our picnic!
USA (Vermont), Vermont Creamery, goat, pasteurized.
It’s always so impressive to watch this cheese warm up, soften, and turn to a liquid pool of flavor out on the table or counter. Its ash-covered rind is a visually stunning addition to any cheese plate, and its creamy, tangy flavor is one of my favorites in American cheese.
Cabot New York Vintage Aged Cheddar Cheese
USA (Vermont), Cabot Creamery, cow, pasteurized.
Another crowd pleaser, this Vermont-made, New York-inspired cheddar has some sharpness and complexity, and a slightly crumbly texture. I’m starting to discover Cabot’s cheeses beyond their clothbound cheddar, and they’re pretty solid. Good quality, not too pricy, and you can use them as a table cheese, or in cooking.
Portugal, sheep, raw, vegetarian.
I happened to have this cheese on hand, so brought it along. It was younger than what I’m used to eating—when this cheese ages, it turns fudgy, and soooo strong, like an earthy, grassy, sour cheese cannonball. This one, however, was fairly young, and so was relatively toned down in flavor. It was also much firmer in texture, with a bright tartness that people really loved.
Brebis au Piment d’Espelette
France, sheep, pasteurized.
My cheese shop had just gotten this cheese in, and the owner really loved it, so I thought I should give it a try. I usually don’t love cheeses with added ingredients, but this was quite lovely. The Espelette pepper, crushed, was a very subtle addition to the cheese, adding more depth to its sweet grass notes.
France, Président Société, sheep, raw.
This classic cheese has gorgeous blue-green veins, soft texture, and a full, intense flavor. One of the most famous cheeses in the world, it is a familiar part of many of my party cheese plates.
Roaring 40s Blue
Australia, King Island Dairy, cow, pasteurized.
I fell in love with this cheese at my very first cheese job! It has a such a creamy, lush texture, and creamy, sweet flavor—to die for. Sadly, for several years it became unavailable in the US, but now it’s back! Woohoo! On the cheese plate, it cut such a beautiful figure with its characteristic black wax rind.
For our celebration, there was a veritable symphony of cheese plate players. Here they all are:
34 Degrees Crisps
I’ve long been a fan of 34 Degrees crisps, so included a classic, their sesame crisps, and a brand new flavor—their chocolate crisps!!!
Paul + Pippa Organic Biscuits
These crumbly, delicately flavored biscuits have just recently come to my attention. I tried their Carrot Cake biscuits for our party, and was blown away at the delightfully sophisticated flavors and absolutely charming packaging (maybe you saw the packages on my Instagram stories!).
Lesley Stowe Raincoast Flats—Beet + Balsamic Vinegar
These crisps are new for the holidays, and yummm. . . . I love them. The Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps have been a longtime staple in my pantry, and now that they’ve come out with these sturdy, flavorful flat crackers, I’ll be adding them to my repertoire, too.
Pâté with Black Pepper
From Fabrique Délices, one of the most widespread distributor of fine French food products in our area. Lots of people raved about this particular pâté!
Also from Fabrique Délices. M. Cheesemonger is of the mind that a cheese plate isn’t complete without them!
This new offering by Creminelli Fine Meats in Utah stays true to their commitment to high-quality, tasty charcuterie. Made with Son of Bourye by High West Distillery (combining “bourbon” and “rye”), you might want to hide a few slices for yourself before setting out the plate for your guests. ;)
Espelette Chili Pepper Jelly, Confit of Lavender Flowers
Both sold by my affiliate partner The French Farm [affiliate link]. They always receive rave reviews when I serve them! People love seeing the lavender flowers in their confit, and the espelette pepper jelly is a surprising, delightful discovery for the palate.
Fig Jam with Port Wine, Dried Figs
From Valley Fig Growers in California. Fig jam is such a classic accompaniment on a cheese plate, so I wanted to include it, with this little port wine twist! And who can say no to dried figs?
Strawberry Lemon Preserves
Made by my friend Amy at Lemonbird Preserves in Los Angeles! She has such a gift of combining flavors into something memorable. The preserves paired beautifully with the blue cheeses!
Homemade Chocolate + Mushroom Truffles
No, not psychedelic mushrooms, but porcinis. My friends (whose bridal portraits I photographed last summer) made these, and I scrambled to grab a couple before they melted in the unusually warm SF sun. They would make a great accompaniment to blue cheeses, soft-ripened cheeses, or goat cheeses!
Homemade Scones (Raspberry and Chocolate)
My friend Sarah made the most AMAZING scones for our party!! I’m going to have to get the recipe from her because everyone else thought they were fantastic, too.
Lots and lots of salads
Everyone brought a salad to the party! J I guess they all had the same idea to balance out the cheese onslaught they knew was going to happen with plants.
Aaaaand, after that, everyone was sufficiently stuffed. It was a wonderful birthday celebration for M. Cheesemonger and me! I love all of our friends so much. They are such loving and talented people, and I am proud to be their friend!
You can find these cheeses at your local specialty cheese store. Vermont Creamery, Cabot cheeses, and Société Roquefort can be found at finer grocery stores.
Many of the accompaniments can also be found at finer grocery or specialty food stores. If you have any doubts, contact the companies to see where they are carried near you.
What’s on your cheese plate? Did you see Fleet Week in San Francisco last week? Let me know in the comments!
I received some product samples for free, and independently decided to include them in this blog post. They include: 34 Degrees crisps, l’Epicurien jams, fig spread, Cabot cheese, Fabrique Délices pâté, Lesley Stowe flats, and Paul + Pippa biscuits.
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