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Cheese. Meat. Repeat.

December 1, 2014

Congratulations! You survived Thanksgiving.

For those who have been paying extra close attention, and have been counting down the days until the first FLB Tastemaker of the Month was named, I’ve got a small bit of bad news. We’re experiencing a minor delay. Don’t worry. Sometimes new initiatives take a while to get off the ground. Especially when they come after long holiday weekends full of travel.

Not to mention a long holiday weekend of eating. Last night I skipped dinner. I just couldn’t put another bit of food in my body after all that Pepe’s pizza. And that came off the heels of our delayed Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night. Which in turn followed a ridiculous cheese and meat table assembled by my cousin and me.

Some people put together cheese plates. A plate wasn’t big enough for us. We had a table.

Please bear in mind that cousin S and I did no coordinating. This is really part of our tradition. He brings some things. I bring other things. And together we try to arrange them into something resembling an afternoon snack.

It may have gotten a little away from us this year. Here’s the picture. I’ll walk you through it.

Thanksgiving 2014

Starting from the left in the far corner is a wheel of Four Fat Foul’s St. Stephen. Cousin S brought that. He knew I was a fan and that this was from up in my neck of the woods. This wheel was a little young, but still delicious.

The next cheese that is being served with a spoon is Cremeux des Augustins by Rodolphe le Meunier. It’s a soft, bloomy rind cow’s milk cheese that’s wrapped in wood. This came via The Cheese Traveler which sells several different things from Meunier. I sliced off the top to reveal the spoonable paste within.

Cousin S brought the Pipe Dreams Fromage goat cheese crottin. It’s a small producer from Pennsylvania, and a great example of the form.

One of the more striking cheeses of the day was the Beppino Occelli Testun al Barolo. It’s encrusted with pressed Barolo grapes, and I’m told by S that cheesemongers hate working with this because it makes an incredible mess whenever it’s cut.

A bowl of Pork Clouds bridges the gap between the first cheese station and the meats. I also found these at The Cheese Traveler, and perhaps my favorite bites of the afternoon were spoonfuls of Cremeux des Augustins on a piece of the rosemary dusted pork rind. I’m lucky to be alive to tell the tale.

The meat plate was almost all my fault. And I guess I got a little bit carried away. But I wanted to share some of those made in Albany delicacies that can’t be legally shipped over state lines, in addition to some of the finest treats I could find from The Cheese Traveler.

Starting at 12 o’clock and moving clockwise we have Rolf’s fine teawurst, Smoking Goose’s cold smoked elk terrine, and the lamb mousse that was presumably purchased somewhere near Philadelphia. That well-marbled dried sausage is white chorizo from New York’s Imperial Chorizo, and I also picked up a couple inches of spreadable country-style liverwurst made by Rolf’s. The very center of the plate has a few slices of Rolf’s dried pork and garlic sticks. Because what’s a cheese table without six types of meat?

I don’t know how those apples made it to the table.

Above the apples in an earthen crock is a Saint Nectaire “fondue” that had been melted and brought to the table in its molten form. This cheese even comes with its own video.

Still, there are four more cheeses to go. I brought a small bloomy rind, soft sheep’s milk cheese called Shushan Snow. This fit in nicely with the small Pennsylvanian cheese S brought from Birchrun called Tomme Mole. He also picked up a blue goat cheese from Yellow Springs Farm in Chester Springs, PA. Not to be outdone, I also showed up with an unusual goat cheese from France called Tome d’Aquitaine which was created by master affineur Jean d’Alos. It was a washed rind beauty of an aged goat’s milk cheese whose complexity really blew me away.

Somehow after all this was done, I was still able to eat two plates of Aunt N’s glorious stuffing. There were a few creamed onions, a bit of cranberry sauce, a token amount of turkey, a scoop of mashed potatoes, and plenty of gravy involved too. And new this year was Brussels sprouts roasted with La Quercia pancetta.

With all of this, I had to limit myself to just two slices of pie.

Thank you to everyone involved who helped make this a Thanksgiving to remember. That includes the cheese makers and purveyors who made all of this possible. Hopefully we’ll remember when Thanksgiving 2015 rolls around that this was way too much food, and hopefully I’ll have the restraint to bring less meat. But man, this was a great weekend.

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