MF Holiday Gift Guide
Every year, December sneaks up on her stealth heels. Already, your lovely emails are starting to trickle in as you sniff out potential gifts for lovers on your list. Come now, let’s get down to business with some serious recommendations. After all, what is better than…
Let’s start with the Hammacker Schlemmer of cheese experiences, shall we? You can gift your buttercup a vacation with me. That’s right! I’ll be part of a tour going to cheddar country (Somerset, England) in September. This is the ultimate cheese journey, sweethearts. No joke. Cheese expert Max McCalman will be along for the ride, and we’re planning to drink wine on the roof of James Montgomery’s mansion. If your cheese lover is a Downton Abbey fan, this trip will bring the two worlds together.
Pairings for stocking stuffers?
How about a tiny flight of fancy? I’m a big fan of gifting several jars of honey, like the beautiful Greek forest honey I wrote about back in April, thanks to The Olive Table. I’m also a raging fan of Tait Farm Jam (sour cherry, blueberry, and the chutney). You can gift three jams with a few cheeses to match (like a triple creme, a Cheddar, and a blue) and you’ve got a sumptuous gift basket or surprise cheese board. Of late, I’ve fallen for some samples I received from Simple & Crisp (pictured above) — their dehydrated oranges are wonderful with stinkers and creamies. And the packaging makes it easy to drop right into a stocking or shoe.
Cheese boards & cheese knives?
My kitchen has almost as many cheese boards as it does cookbooks, and I keep a bowl full of cheese knives on the window sill. That way, I can throw together a gorgeous snack plate without having to rummage. I like to buy cheese boards on Etsy (like these from Gray Works in Saugerties, NY), and I scour thrift stores for butter knives and old silver — I like to bundle them and give them as gifts. In my handbag, I always carry a French cheese spreader from Laguiole.
A cheese portrait by Mike Geno can transform a kitchen (or boudoir) into a very special place. His prints are reasonable — check out his list of cheeses by state. Also, over the last year I have collaborated on several posts with the wonderful illustrator Johanna Kindvall in New York. Her illustrations are economical and exquisite (I’m partial to her rendering of my cheese desk). Frame one, or collect her whole set, and hang them along your cellar stairs, your pantry, your entryway. A cheese illustration by the door is the new dairy mezuzah.
Books to expand one’s cheese horizons?
Here are a few cheese books I read recently and adored: The Whole Fromage by Kathe Lison (French cheese escapism) and The Life of Cheese, by Heather Paxton (an anthropologist’s glimpse into artisan American cheese culture). Also, I love Marisa McClellan’s Preserving by the Pint for pairing ideas and for jam recipes, and I am eagerly awaiting Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall.
Naming rights to a calf or cheese cave?
You know I have been pushing the campaign for Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm — you can still purchase the naming rights to her cave! (Or name a baby calf. Or have dinner at her farm — I’ll be there!).
As always, I am happy to sign and send out copies of my own little project, The Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings. It’s also available in book stores, cheese shops, and online.
If you’d like a personalized copy, drop me a comment or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy holidays, and thank you for supporting someone’s cheese habit!