Friday, December 15, 2017

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The gift of some mind-blowing cheeses is just a click away

By The Culinary Institute of America
Nov. 29, 2017 at 9 a.m.

This Nov. 3, 2017 photo provided by The Culinary Institute of America shows a charcuterie box in Hyde Park, N.Y. Edible gifts are always a huge hit, especially at busy times of the year. (Phil Mansfield/The Culinary Institute of America via AP)

Gift-giving is supposed to be fun, but if you're an adult, by now you've learned that choosing gifts is one of the more stress-inducing aspects of the holiday. Luckily, here at The Culinary Institute of America, we've learned a no-fail strategy for gifts that keeps us on the "nice" list.

Food is almost always the answer, and your holiday gift list is no exception. Edible gifts are always a huge hit, especially at busy times of the year. We can enjoy them in our pajamas at the end of a long day and they are usually something that you don't get to eat every day.

The best presents are ones that we wouldn't get for ourselves (we're all set on socks this year, Mom), and for food, that usually translates to something a little bit decadent, unusual, or hard-to-find. And decadent, unusual, and hard-to-find just happen to be three of the defining characteristics of a good cheese.

For cheeses, we started with Garrotxa, a Catalan goat's milk cheese that is semi-firm (so, not dry like an aged Manchego, but not soft and runny). It has a touch of sweetness to contrast its peppery flavor that makes it an ideal dessert cheese, though it's no slouch at a cocktail party.

Next, we chose a Camembert. This one is more familiar to even indifferent cheese-eaters. It is soft and creamy, with an edible, bloomy rind (yes, it's mold. No, it is not gross).

Though Camembert comes from the same-named region in France, true Camemberts are becoming harder to find, due to increased regulations on raw milk cheeses. Luckily, several American dairies are producing Camembert-style cheeses that hold up to the classic iteration.

Finally, the little Bijou from Vermont Creamery is made in the style of a traditional French Crottin de Chavignol. This soft-ripened goat cheese is velvety in its creaminess, slightly tart, and relatively mild. You might think goat cheese isn't your thing, but this is not like the dollops of chevre you've picked out of your salad.



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