Madame Fromage’s Holiday Gift Guide

Every year, I tell myself I am not going to do a gift guide. Then, I can’t resist sharing some of my favorite things from the year. So here you go, my darlings. This is, in no particular order, a list of dairy-centric delights that brought me great happiness this year and, with any luck, will bring you and yours a whole lotta joy, too.

Cheese calendar by Mike Geno

You’ll never be at a loss for which cheese to eat if you purchase this fabulous calendar from my friend and neighbor, the painter Mike Geno. His calendars brighten my kitchen every year, and they’re the gift that pretty much every person I know will adore. This year’s cheese calendar is all loaded up with the birthdays of your favorite cheesemakers, plus National Grilled Cheese Day, National Pizza Day, etc. You’ll always have a reason to party. If you fall in love with one of the original images pictured in, say, June or August, you can always spring for a wall print or — bettah yet — a Mike Geno original. ($25)

Saint Rita Parlor #2 Parfum

This might seem a little rando ‘cuz I’m not one for perfumes, but I have always wanted one spell-binding vaguely cave-smelling scent, and this one comes so close! The label on the vial got me with its description — whiskey, tobacco, water, and rose — and its glorious woodsy aroma. It’s true: I love whiskey, the occasional French cigarette (I keep a pack in the freezer and defrost one on occasion to smoke on the stoop after a party), and I always stop to smell roses when I jog around the cemetery near my house. One day, I hope someone will develop a line of cheese cave fragrances? Until then… ($40)

Gouda Pin from Cheese, Sex, Death

A custom cheese pin created in the image of one of my favorite Wisconsin cheeses? Yes, this is a must for the hat ribbon or the lapel of any self-respecting Gouda freak. It would be a perfect gift alongside a hunk of the Gouda for which this pin was create, Marieke Gouda with Cloves. This unusual Dutch cheese, spiked with whole cloves, is traditional and tastes like the best winter pot potpourri you never imagined eating. ($10)

Butter Ballcap and 1 lb of Ploughgate Butter

For the discerning dairy lover, send a pound of designer butter and a “butter” ballcap. It’s a no brainer. When you taste this cultured love bomb from Vermont, you’ll understand why Ploughgate has a cult following. It’s the next best thing to a Vacherin-gram. No, no, there’s no such thing as a Vacherin-gram, but there should be! Can you imagine a cheesemonger showing up at your work with balloons and a seasonal spruce-wrapped cheese? Forget fruit bouquets, people! ($20, $25)


A Cheese Journey

In 2018, I’ll be packing my cheese valise for a series of cheese-centric trips that I am so proud to be co-hosting with the intrepid Anna Juhl. For something truly deluxe, join us on a Gouda tour to Amsterdam (April 3-11). Or come see me on the Philadelphia & Chester County cheese tour (July 5-8). Or, let’s hit the Alps together and eat heaps of Reblochon (Aug. 29-Sept. 9)! A Vermont cheese tour is also in the works! These tours are an incredible way to support the cheese community, meet makers, and explore specialty foods and pairings you could never imagine. They’re an excellent gift for a special birthday or anniversary. ($priceless)

Boska Cheese Tower

Know someone who likes to throw cheese bashes? This dramatic slate tower with a built-in toothpick topper is pretty genius. It’s not actually something I own, but I saw it recently at my local kitchen store (Fante’s) and I did some panting in the aisle of slicers. ($59.99)

Raclette Party Grill

Raclette parties are in! Well, they were never out in my family, but this winter I’ve had more Raclette inquiries than usual, so let me give you the skinny. I use an 8-person Swissmar Party-clette in the winter, and I absolutely love it. This is a table-top oven with 8 small fry pans for toasting cheese, plus a grill top which I like to use for a second course of sausages and veg. It’s the easiest, coziest dinner party imaginable — pick up some Raclette and potatoes, ask your guests to bring pickles and mustards, then plug in your Raclette oven. Serve some German beers or some Swiss whites, and you’re golden. (prices vary)

Booze and Vinyl (my next book, available for pre-order!)

It’s true, my brother André Darlington and I have co-authored a new book that’s coming out in April. You and yours can be the first to own it and host a boozy listening party (with cheese of course)! We’ve got some incentives on our new book website. And we’d be happy to send your giftee a signed book plate and a holiday card if you buy a copy in advance. Certainly, there must be someone in your life who likes drinking cocktails and playing vinyl as much as we do! You can read the description of our new book here.

Food-inspired fabric, by Johanna Kindvall

My friend and collaborator Johanna Kindvall is a food illustrator, and many of her drawings are now available as printed fabric on Spoonflower. Check out her shop and order a yard or two of “cheese cloth” so you can make a Provolone duvet cover. Or tea towels. Or a pair of cheesy trousers to wear to ACS! She has lots of other non-dairy images, too, plus a whole line of homewares on Society6, from mugs and bags to cellphone covers. You’ll find a bunch more of her cheese-centric illustrations there, too. Johanna also has a wonderful new book, Smorgasbord (Ten Speed Press, 2017)

A Locally Made Cheese Board

It’s nice to have a range of shapes and sizes when it comes to cheese boards. I love the beautiful beautiful boards and bowls created by master craftsman John Luttman of Artifaqt Design in Phoenixville, PA. I’m also partial to the rustic boards (and bags for carrying cheese boards!) from Peg + Awl , a family business run by my talented and wonderful neighbors Margaux and Walter Kent. I also love Vestige Home, where my friend Nicole Cole and her brother Luke make beautiful bowls, boards, and wooden spoons.

Philadelphia-centric Gift Ideas

If you’re a local lover, gift a Collective Creamery Cheese CSA subscription and receive local cheeses from Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills and Stef Angstadt of Valley Milkhouse. Or, buy a gift certificate from one of the local restaurants that serve fabulous local cheese boards. On the top of my list: Talula’s Garden, The Love, Martha, Tria, Of course, my pals at Di Bruno Bros. offer Cheese Clubs, and if I had to suggest one it would be their “Eat Like a Cheesemonger Club.” Finally, you can join the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild as an enthusiast for just $25 a year, which is an incredible way to support cheesemaker education throughout the state and learn about all kinds of cheese-centric events and farm tours. Thanks for spreading the love!

Photo Credit: Collective Creamery


COMING UP! Cheesemas at Martha on Dec. 20: If you’re local, join the cheese crew for a giant BYOC (bring your own cheese bash) at Martha Bar in Kensington on Dec. 20, from 7-10 p.m. If you bring a wrapped condiment to pair with cheese, you can participate in our dairy lover’s Secret Santa swap. I hope to see you!

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2 Responses to “Madame Fromage’s Holiday Gift Guide”
  1. Mike Geno says:

    Thanks Tenaya! I’m honored to be included in this awesome list. I just pre-ordered your new book because I want to ensure I get a hardcopy next April! It’s so awesome looking!!! ❤️🎵🧀

  2. Thanks so much for the shoutout, Madame! See you at Cheesemas!

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