Skagit Food Co-op blog:

the Cheese Whisperer

Cheese for New Year’s Eve

Special occasions call for special cheese. Celebrate the countdown to 2016 with fine cheeses, olives, dried fruit and other delights. Include a flavored spread, jam or jelly: visit the Co-op’s specialty Cheese Island to find Dalmatia Fig Spread, Quinn’s Pepper Jelly and other options. Don’t forget to pick up some fresh dates, grapes or berries. Include gluten free guests and offer a selection of fresh bread, crackers and flat breads. Be sure to provide separate serving utensils to keep cheese fresh and ensure faithful flavors. For fans of cured meats, stop by the Co-op’s Meat Department to find a great selection of smoked salmon, cured salami and liver pate.


Photo courtesy of MontChevre

A few more basic tips for a successful cheese platter: allow your cheeses to come to room temp. Choose an assortment of cheese types and accessories. Be sure to include local and global delicacies to round out your selection with a pungent, strong cheese, something creamy, and maybe something infused flavor wise. Here are a handful of great choices to enhance your holiday:

Willapa Hills Farms Lilly Pad – an amazing limited offer from one of our local creameries, Willapa’s Lilly Pad is a firm, mild artisan aged raw cow’s milk cheese that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Shred or grate it to add dimension to soups, mashed vegetables and green salads. Regularly $28.99 per lb, this excellent cheese is now on sale for $13.99 per lb!

willapalillyMini Cabrie Goat Brie – an adorable round of soft ripened goat cheese with a creamy, smooth texture. Farm fresh from Vermont’s Montchevre, Mini Cabrie is a specialty aged goat cheese coated in a soft, edible white bloomy rind. Contrast the buttery richness of this cheese with tart preserves such as Boat Street Pickled Raisins or raspberry jam, or try it as a savory appetizer with fresh basil leaves and roasted cherry tomatoes. Mini Cabrie, on sale for $3.99 each.

Roquefort Blue Cheese – this elegant raw sheep’s milk blue cheese is now available with an organic certification. A classic treat, aged in French limestone caves, Roquefort can be simply enjoyed with a handful of walnuts and a swirl of honey. With its pungent, earthy flavors and creamy texture, Roquefort is often used to bake tartlets or melt atop burgers. Serve this cheese in cubes or crumbles. Now on sale for $20.99/lb.

A brief note on beverage pairings: sparkling wines are traditional accompaniment for New Year’s Eve, but there’s no reason fans of craft brews can’t join in the fun. Offer a sparkling dry cider, such as Seattle Cider’s Dry or Honey Moon’s Cranberry Ciderhead, as an alternative to a Champagne-style wine. Have a few options on hand for fans of ale, lager, cider (hard and non-alcoholic), as well as white and red wines.

Happy 2016!

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.