Just before Thanksgiving, the Metro Spirit decided to have a little fun celebrating 100 years of Velveeta cheese in a feature story called, “A Cheesy Holiday Season.”
The story talked about America’s strange love for that odd, elongated, rectangular block of cheese that can only be described as gooey, orange and delicious.
This year, Velveeta, known as a “cheese food,” turned 100 years old.
In the story, the Metro Spirit happened to mentioned that shoppers won’t find Velveeta at The Fresh Market, although the store does carry more than 200 varieties of other cheeses.
Apparently, that one line in the story caught the eye of Fresh Market’s corporate office and they graciously sent the Metro Spirit a variety of cheeses from their holiday cheese collection.
And, let’s just say, they weren’t anything like Velveeta.
This was real cheese that should have a place on any and every holiday table.
From goat to gouda, stilton to bleu, The Fresh Market’s cheese specialists clearly combed the globe to bring in some hard-to-find selections that will satisfy everyone’s tastes.
“Our goal in selecting cheeses for holiday entertaining is to find that needle-in-the-haystack cheesemaker who is doing something really special and best-in-class that no other producer is offering, and having the highly sought after cheeses that may only be available at this time of year due to their limited quantity,” said Andy Harvell, a cheese specialist at The Fresh Market.
Not only did The Fresh Market send a variety of creamy, elegant cheeses, but they provided an assortment of crackers that brought each cheese to the next level.
“Our goal is to curate the best of the best in seasonal cheeses for holiday entertaining that will surprise and delight any cheese lover,” Harvell said. “We also offer a wide assortment of high-quality charcuterie, nuts, dried fruits, chutneys and honey that complement any cheese board. There is no better time to say cheers to cheese than the holiday season.”
The following are some of Harvell’s favorite cheeses for the holidays and a delicious description of each. Bon Appétit and happy holidays courtesy of The Fresh Market:
Mackenzie Creamery Artisan Goat Cheese
This family-owned creamery based in Hiram, Ohio has won just as many awards for their sustainable and eco-friendly production practices, as for their artisan goat cheese. Their fresh goat cheese comes in a cup, with the topping on the bottom. To serve, you just invert the cup onto a serving plate and let the topping coat the fresh cheese.
Their Apricot Ginger Chèvre won 2nd place at the World Championship Cheese contest in 2018 and an award from the American Cheese Society in 2011. The Cognac Fig Chèvre has won numerous awards, including 1st place in its category at the 2018 World Championship Cheese contest and multiple awards from the American Cheese Society.
This is a standalone cheese and should be served on a lighter flavored cracker or a crusty bread with a soft crumb.
Raspberry Prosecco Stilton
If there was ever a cheese meant for holiday entertaining, it would be this stunning award-winning white stilton from Thistle Hill studded with raspberries that imparts a fruity edge with a hint of sweetness and pairs perfectly with Prosecco.
(As a side note, this cheese was, by far, the favorite and most popular cheese on the platter sent to the Metro Spirit. It was absolutely delicious and could easily be substituted for a dessert at a holiday party.)
Esquirrou Petit Ossau Iraty
A true cheese-lovers’ cheese if you can get your hands on it, this pure ewe’s (sheep) whole milk cheese is native to the Basque Country and Béarn. The name Ossau-Iraty originates from the Pic du Midi d’Ossau and the Iraty forest. The cheese has a hard texture with a herbaceous, nutty and fruity flavor. Esquirrou recently was named the 2018 World Champion Cheese, besting more than 3,400 entries from 26 different countries.
Deer Creek Blue Jay
This award-winning, handcrafted quintuple crème blue cheese is infused with crushed juniper berries that imparts a delicately piney bouquet that complements the bold, buttery cheese. For a truly wow experience, try some melted on a New York Strip for a truly decadent holiday meal. This cheese pairs nicely with a gin or brandy, Red Zinfandel or Stout Beer.
Semsales AOP Gruyere
What is special about this Gruyere is that it is sourced from a single farm in Semsales, Switzerland. This farm only makes about 13 cheeses a day. It is a traditional, creamy, unpasteurized, semi-soft cheese that is slightly grainy and has a complexity of fruity, earthy and nutty flavors. This cheese can be used for fondue or as a stand-alone on a cheese board, and pairs perfectly with a Pinot Grigio, Savignon Blanc, or Riesling.
Guilloteau Excellence Triple Crème Brie
An indulgent, triple cream brie from Fromager D’Affinois that is perfect for parties. Serve with Taste Elevated Booze Thyme Cherries (sold at The Fresh Market). These cherries are brined in a combination of brandy and amaretto, and then cooked with a blend of aromatic spices. At the end of the cooking process, fresh thyme is added to give it a final kick of flavor.
Montagnard is the French word for “Mountains” and this soft-ripened cheese is incredibly rich and creamy with an earthy flair.
The Germain family creamery was founded in 1921 and is the longest continually-operating creamery making PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Langres cheese from the Champagne region of France. There are only three producers of Langres remaining in activity and Fromagerie Germain is the only one exporting this special cheese to the United States. The whole milk used to make this cheese comes from specific dairy cows, which are pasture-fed. Once the milk is collected at the farm, it is molded into cheese within 24 hours. After it is unmolded, it is dusted in dry salt and sent to the caves for aging, where it is aged at least 15 days in the caves, and washed several times with salt, water and annatto. Because the cheeses are never turned during production and affinage, the dip on top of the cheese, called “fontaine” in French, is formed naturally.
What makes this cheese a particular ‘wow’ cheese for the holiday is how it is served: with champagne, of course.
The cheese comes in a cup, and just before serving, Champagne is poured onto the “fontaine” until it covers the top of the cheese. Let the Champagne soak a bit before cutting and eating the cheese. If you want an even more dramatic flair, pour some Marc de Bourgogne, an aged pomace brandy from Burgundy, for a flambé, a tradition in this region of France.