If you are reading this, it means you have just successfully completed a major holiday. Or at least endured it. Either way, you’re probably still feeling the effects in some way or another, perhaps as the aftereffects of a herculean cleaning effort or an incessant throbbing in your head that makes you vampirically sensitive to sunlight. But hey—you did it! Give yourself a pat on the back, if you can do so without throwing out your shoulder.
One of the challenges of the holiday season is that the occasions are anything but occasional—they come in quick succession. And it can be a tall order to maintain some sense of creativity in how you host a party or what you bring to the one you’re attending. With Christmas barely in the rear view, we imagine the last thing you want to do is start game planning New Year’s Eve. Listen: you don’t have to. We’ve already put the plan in place.
Over at our restaurant, Cheese Bar, we’re featuring a holiday cheese and meat board that has been on the menu for the past couple weeks. It is excellent, and it looks like this:
This holiday spread was developed by our veritable Cheese Bar mongers Michaela Weitzer and Ian Pearson. “We wanted to have something that’s very decadent,” says Michaela. That is, after all, the M.O. of New Year’s: decadence for the sake of it. This here’s what an NYE platter looks like when prepared by the pros.
Here’s a quick key of what we’re working with, along with some insider info from Michaela. A few of the items are exclusive to Cheese Bar, but we’ve got you covered with ways you can fill in those spots.
- Blueberry Balsamic Compote – Our Cheese Bar team makes this in-house by pickling blueberries and mixing them with a balsamic compote. That’s not an easy thing to pull off. What is easy to pull off is the lid from a jar of Murray’s Wild Blueberry Preserves or Strawberry Balsamic Preserves from our pals at Anarchy in a Jar.
- Rabbit Pate – Made out in the Bay Area by Fabrique Delices, masters of artisanal charcuterie. It’s “a very sweet meat on its own,” says Michaela, “so we wanted to put some acid with it.” Hence the blueberry balsamic compote, and hence the reason either of our readily available alternatives will make for a great pairing as well.
- Truffled Potato Chips – The idea behind these in-house chips is twofold: something decadently earthy and something dippable. Potter’s Onion Crisps hits both those marks with panache.
- Rush Creek Reserve – Per Michaela: “We wanted to feature a very special holiday cheese on there.” Nothing does that job quite like the highly seasonal, universally adored Rush Creek. It’s super gooey, which is why you want a crisp with dippability to go along with it.
- Prosciutto San Daniele – A customer favorite over at Cheese Bar. “Super buttery and really smooth,” says Michaela.
- L’Etivaz – Gruyere as it used to be. Hazelnutty and fruity with a trace of smokiness.
- Brûléed Chestnuts –Every time the Holiday Board is ordered, we torch a batch of chestnuts to bring out their sweetness. This is done as a way to play off those salty, nutty qualities in L’Etivaz. Basically, you’re looking for a large, darker nut with some caramelized properties. Murray’s Preserved Walnuts fit the bill wonderfully. They are cured whole, with a mix of cinnamon and allspice, and develop a rich taste and pliant texture.
- Lamb Ham – The idea behind this item was to include a smoked meat that’s a little different and a little more exotic than your traditional pork products. We only have it in our restaurant, but some duck prosciutto from Fabrique Delices is more than game.
- Stilton – “Stilton is such a holiday cheese,” says Michaela. Indeed, out in its homeland of England, Stilton is synonymous with holiday feasts. To take it to new levels of holiday-ness, Ian developed the final item on the board:
- Cranberry White Chocolate Ganache – It is, to use a technical term: super good. The idea behind this creation is that a sweet, candied pairing would make for the ultimate holiday bite. Short of spending New Year’s Eve at Cheese Bar (which you can! We’ll be open from 11am ‘til midnight), this flavor profile can be best approximated with the Murray’s Sundred Cranberries that Ian uses and a bar of Zotter Caramel Milk bar.
So, if you’re feeling some pain up in the ol’ noggin as you try to think your thoughts today, just take a breath and slow it down. Your New Year’s Eve spread is now one less thing you need to mull over. Of course, you don’t have to go whole hog (and rabbit and duck) on your own board; calibrate to the size of your crowd. At the very least though, a couple of these pairings will be their own causes for celebration on Sunday night.
But, you may ask, what about champagne? How does that fit into this pairing party? Check out the blog tomorrow, when we’ll have the relationship between champagne and cheese broken down and explained.
Til then, Cheesers.