Time to Chilllllll
The parties have ended, family and friends have left, the champagne was poured, the cookie jar is empty. While this is kind of depressing, there might also be a small sense of relief that life goes back to normal and we can settle into our winter routine. Now, I’ll be feeling like this probably for another couple weeks and then I’ll resent the fact that I don’t want to leave my house because it’s rain-snowing sideways and the road is a skating rink. But for now, I’m feeling good about the calm that settles over January.
I’m thinking about the cheeses I want right now to honor winter tranquility and restfulness. I want these cheeses to be perfect for a night of Netflix, or good to bring to a small dinner with friends, which just happens to be what I’m doing tonight. Am I using this newsletter as a way to decide which cheeses I want to bring to my friends? Maaaybe. But hey, you should come grab these cheeses too and take them to your friends (or don’t share at all, I also support that) and then we can talk about how much our friends love us from bringing them fantastic cheese!
One cheese I can’t seem to get enough of is Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese Co. in Wisconsin. When I was there last fall (2017, so I guess two falls ago?? Time, man, time.), we visited Andy Hatch, one of the owners and a cheesemaker at Uplands. They make two cheeses, the firm Pleasant Ridge Reserve and the gooey, bark wrapped Rush Creek Reserve. Andy told us that while he loves Rush Creek, he really loves Pleasant Ridge Reserve because it is a cheese made in the field. What he meant was that Pleasant Ridge Reserve’s success lives and dies by the quality of milk produced by their cows. Happy cows with a healthy diet = excellent cheese. The wheels we’ve been getting of Pleasant Ridge have been irresistible. Smooth and sweet like fresh grass and caramelized onions, and savory like chicken broth. While you can always add a jam or a few slices of salami, I think Pleasant Ridge Reserve is best all by itself.
The other cheese on my January chill cheese plate/what I’m bringing to my friends tonight would probably be Eidolon by Gray Barn on Martha’s Vineyard. While it is a cow’s milk cheese, it is easily mistaken for a goat with its snowy white rind and tang. This is one of those cheeses I can eat A LOT of because I take a bite and taste tangy, salty, and a slight bitterness. Then I want another bite, and in that second bite there’s a whisper of sweet. I almost feel like you can taste the fresh ocean air. Or maybe that’s just me projecting. Taste what you want to taste and all that. I’m definitely going to grab a baguette for this one because I get a lot of pleasure from taking large wedges and smooshing it into the crusty bread. This one can take a little bit of extra sweetness, so I’ll probably bring the Farmhouse Kitchen jam from Doves and Figs. It has nice sweet/tart/warming qualities from the strawberry, rhubarb and ginger, and a pleasant crunch from walnut pieces.
And you know what, I think that’s all I need. A cheese plate with only two cheeses is very unusual for me, but hey, I’m feeling chill. Don’t worry, this won’t last long. By next week I’ll probably be saying screw it! I need a cheeseboard with at least 8 cheeses GAAA! But for now, two will do the trick.
For the love of cheese and January (no, really),