By Leslie Uhl, CCP
Oh, the Holidays! Needless to say, my favorite holiday traditions center on food and drink…and more food…and more drink. Long ago, before I was a Cheesemonger, my mother started a Christmas Eve tradition of making only appetizers for dinner. Before we all piled in the car and headed to the evening church service, Mama would grab paper plates and napkins and serve us a candle-lit feast of Swedish meatballs, cocktail wieners, finger sandwiches, and plates full of cheese and olives and sliced deli ham. When us kiddos were old enough, she started to assign appetizers to us, and it very quickly turned into a serious competition. Now, every year, we all secretly plan an appetizer, gather our ingredients, and pit our culinary creations against each other in an epic battle of Christmas Eve Eats.
Now that I AM a Cheesemonger, my holiday apps (different from iPhone apps…) are elaborate cheese pairings that I spend entirely too much money on and time constructing, all in the name of tasty, tasty victory. At Di Bruno’s, one of our all-time favorite pairings is the French triple cream brie, Delice de Bourgogne, with Amarena Cherries and Cinnful Cocoa Pecans. We started serving this treat up at our After Hours events in the Italian Market as a way to teach our customers that there’s more to pair with cheese than just a cracker. Also, as a company full of culinary pioneers, it’s one of the first “signature bites” that has become a part of our now-impressive repertoire of insanely creative recipes (see House of Cheese book for more!).
Triple cream brie is rich, buttery, and uber-decadent due to an extra few helpings of freshly-skimmed cream added to the milk used to make the cheese. It can also have a salty bite to it, so the sweet, sticky syrup of the Amarena (wild Italian) cherries adds an extra layer of complementary flavor. Topped off with a crunchy, cocoa and cinnamon dusted pecan, this pairing is the ultimate WOW for anyone who loves complex and perfectly-balanced bites of glory.
It might be considered cheating, but I’m tempted to pack this little gem of a pairing up and take it to my Christmas Eve Cage Match of Snack-etizers this year. Don’t tell my mother, but keep an eye out for our other “12 Days of Pairings” offerings. Post pics of your family doin’ the Holidays right (or wrong!) and give us a glimpse of your #cheesytraditions @dibrunobros. Mangia, y’all!