Is it universal to walk into a holiday gathering and immediately seek out the cheese platter? I mean, do say hello first, but then bee line in search of that specific find? Gluten and dairy intolerances aside, there is something amazing about a cheese platter, with its familiar varieties, and just a small amount of adventure, and maybe even a little palette cleanser of grapes, dried fruit, or nuts. I’m clearly a big fan, and love to explore new varieties of cheeses, and carry those lovely little lactaid pills accordingly in my little evening bag, along with the all-important ID, (like I’m going to be proofed…) lipstick, Tylenol, cell phone and key fob. Each claiming their height of importance in the context of my evening. And, I must say, depending on the adventure at hand, the lactaid might very well be the frontrunner.
I have recently been introduced to something that is now a staple on my cheese platter, called Landjaeger. Now, some of you might be familiar with this, but I, for one, wasn’t. It’s a mild salami link that looks like a tiny hot dog, or maybe even beef jerky of certain sorts…Now, I’m not a fan of beef jerky at all, but I am a BIG fan of salami, and I found it in one of the strangest places…kitchen kettle market in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, and it is made by the Amish. This is a market known for it’s jams, jellies, and canning, overall. Now, I will admit that I purchased my share of pickled beets, while I was there, i mean i adore beets, but in this little cheese shoppe, I spent quite some time perusing and tasting, and I was not disappointed. I also brought home an AMAZING onion cheese that they highly recommended for burgers, but that cheese never had a prayer, before it was devoured by me, and some of my friends at my annual girly party. I also purchased a few cheeses that are staples to my platter, but turned it up a notch because of the adventurer that I toy with being. I also do olives, usually stuffed with garlic or blue cheese, and roasted garlic marinated in olive oil, and different kinds of crackers…some with sun dried tomato, basil, grains, and of course, the standard triscuit and ritz…gotta have those. I also put hummus nearby, as it tends to compliment the platter as a whole, and homemade pita chips. Cheese makes me happy and can be quite the thrill when away from home and in social situations. I DO have my childhood comfort foods like farina, matzoh ball soup, and stuffed cabbage, and my adult favorites like sushi, roasted Brussel sprouts, and chicken parm., but, isn’t it nice to know that there is comfort and joy available in the universal great, wide, somewhere?! That, for me, is a knockout cheese platter!