A Gift Guide for the Cheese Traveler
This week, I’ve been working on a holiday cheese board for The Philadelphia Inquirer based around the them of “bark, booze, and flames.” Because I love themes (it must be my editorial mind), I can’t help but lean on a topical focus for this year’s gift guide. Since the travel bug has bitten my neck, let the vampire live!
Here are 6 gift ideas for anyone with restless legs and a yen for cheese:
1. A Night at James Montgomery’s Home
This year’s ultimate cheese travel gift has to be the British cheese junket offered by Anna Juhl and Chris George of Cheese Journeys – six sleeps in Cheddar country, complete with a night at James Montgomery’s manor (he’s the brains and hands behind Montgomery’s Cheddar, arguably the best in the world). Stuff yourself on curds and roam a landscape once thought to be the true home of Camelot. To pre-game, attend one of these British cheese classes in New York.
2. A Tour of Eataly
Heading to New York? Sweep your lover off her feet with a personal tour of Eataly some morning – you get to walk the store with a staffer while nibbling cheese, murmuring over mushrooms with the vegetable butcher (best concept in the world), and sampling hot pasta, pizza, and more. Ask for an olive oil demo – the shelves are arranged by region. Who knew?
3. A Class at The San Francisco Cheese School
If you’re going to the Bay Area, stop in and meet Kirstin Jackson of It’s Not You It’s Brie – she teaches wine-and-cheese classes at The San Francisco Cheese School, and they always sound incredible. Check to see if a city near you offers cheese education – in Philadelphia, look to Tria Fermentation School and Cook. In New York, check out the course offerings at Murray’s and Bedford Cheese.
4. A Cheese Roadtrip
Several states, including Wisconsin and Vermont, offer cheese maps. You can also look for localized trails, like the Finger Lakes Wine & Cheese Trail. Plan a weekend and stay somewhere dreamy (like a farm stay or dairy B&B), then gift your lover a cooler, a cheese board, and some brochures. Even better, plan a trip around a cheese festival – there are a growing number of them. It’s an awesome way to nibble and network, especially if you dream of owning goats and making a few crottins of your own. Another resource: the Atlas of Artisan American Cheese (it’s a little out of date but still handy).
5. An International Cheese Board
Know someone headed abroad this summer – maybe to France, Italy, Spain? Gift that person a special board with cheeses from their destination so they can prepare their tastebuds. Some cheese companies, like Zingermans, even offer country-themed gift baskets — check out their French Cheese Passport. Di Bruno Bros. offers an Italian Cheese Collection (all of the wedges on the board are in our new cheese book!).
6. Cheese Books for the Armchair Traveler…
This seems to be the year of cheese books (or maybe I’m just paying more attention). Here are a few faves from my own shelves to recommend:
- The Whole Fromage – For anyone who wants to fantasize about roadtripping through France…
- Pacific Northwest Cheese: A History – For history buffs and savvy West Coasties…
- Wisconsin Local Foods Journal – For cheese heads who want to know which hunks are in season…
Disclosure: I requested and received promotional copies of the books mentioned in this post.