Hello, my friends! How are you this week? After the opening of my current show, West Coast Craft, and Cheese Plus’s 12th anniversary celebration all happening over the weekend, I’m kind of ready to roll up in a blanket. But we can’t, because this week, I did a very special collaboration with one of my favorite San Francisco artisans, MM Clay! You may have dined off of some MM Clay dishware at the Progress, or maybe Nightbird, or a whole host of other restaurants. Well, today, we’re dining on cheese and charcuterie at Miss Cheesemonger.
A word about MM Clay, created by Mary Mar Keenan in Hayes Valley, right in the heart of San Francisco (behind Blue Bottle Coffee!). All of Mary Mar’s gorgeous pieces are made by hand by her and her team of artisans. She explained to me that she sees her dishes as truly finished when plated with food, so that an empty dish feels something like an empty canvas. I have been ogling her dishes since I first saw them at one of my favorite shops, Maker & Moss! The rustic forms, subdued colors, hefty weight, and subtle patterns in all of her pieces enrich the dining experience. When I first photographed one of her dishes, I felt like my photography was instantly elevated. Likewise with the dining experience. Her dishware just lifts you up to a new aesthetic plane (or plate?). That is the power of MM Clay, and I encourage you to experience it for yourself!
Such special ceramics were calling for the choicest of adornment, and so I chose the following!
Cow, pasteurized, Indiana, USA
This delightful fromage by Tulip Tree Creamery in Indiana was one of my favorite cheese finds at this year’s Good Food Mercantile. It comes in thick 8 oz. squares, and is washed in Hubbard and Cravens Porter Beer made by Thr3e Wise Men Brewery. My particular, very runny, specimen had that a soft version of the pungent smell we get from so many washed rind cheeses. It reminded me of charcuterie. Foxglove’s texture is amazingly light and airy, not to mention extremely runny. When I brought it home, I discovered that it had leaked through its two layers of wrapping! Its flavor is full and meaty up front, but then it mellows out to a slightly sweet note at the finish.
Montes de Alcala
Goat, pasteurized, Andalusia, Spain
My trusty cheesemonger pointed me to this lovely, rosemary-crusted Spanish visitor. My eating experience of it evoked more of a feeling than a flavor—it felt like a cheese you could eat on a dusty, country road in the warm hills of Andalusia. It tasted rather herbaceous and woodsy, thanks to the rosemary, and a little dusty. I could admire that sleek, pale yellow paste for days!
Cow, raw, Washington state, USA
I first saw Glacier blue during a trip to Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Seattle several years ago, and now I get to share it from San Francisco! This beautiful blue cheese made by Cascadia Creamery is aged 75 days, and has a beautiful dense, bursting mouthfeel. Tasting it, I got a strong initial salty, bright burst of flavor that mellowed out to a sort of dusky yeast and hay finish.
Good cheese goes well with meats, and I chose a couple delicious ones! We started with classic prosciutto de Parma for some thinly sliced, sweet, salty, oily cured pork goodness, then moved on to more local cured meats with Lady Edison’s sweet sopressata from North Carolina. Wow, what a treat that was! I loved the plump form, mouth-filling flavor and umami notes with a hint of sweetness. Now I want some more . . .
French Morales cherry jam from The French Farm [affiliate link] brought some deep reds to the plate, as well as a tart, not very sweet flavor. This jam feels like the ultimate sophisticated jam! I’m going to have to add this one to more plates when I want a break from my usual floral confits! The cheese knives also came from The French Farm!
Roasted peppers with garlic added a little bit of color and a savory veggie kick to the ensemble. Thanks, M. Cheesemonger, for picking them up!
Italbrand traditional grissini was my chosen bread-like accompaniment. They’re fun to eat, with a pretty neutral flavor and attractive form.
The “cheese board” in this shoot is actually a pizza stone from MM Clay! I used a few of their ramekins to hold the jam, Foxglove, and peppers, and a butter dish to hold the serving of cheese.
All of the cheeses and charcuterie were picked up at my local specialty food haunt, Cheese Plus!
What’s on your cheese plate this week?
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