Cheese, bread, and veggies for a simple New Year’s Eve dinner – 31 December 2013

main131231D suggested we have bread and cheese for New Year’s Eve, to go with another bottle of the Claiborne and Churchill dry gewurtztraminer we had a couple of days ago (bought at Berkeley Bowl sometime last year). I went to the Cheese Board and described the wine a bit – mentioned pears and flavors like that – and asked the CB member for cheese suggestions.

Front to back: Midnight Moon, Swedish Vasterbottenost, Cremont

Front to back: Midnight Moon, Swedish Vasterbottensost, Cremont

I first asked to taste the aged Beemster another member was serving next to me, and it was sweet and nutty  – the sort of flavor I thought I’d want (and it would probably have been terrific, too). But when a CB member came to help me, she said the other cheese next to us would be even better – Midnight Moon, an aged goat gouda by Cypress Grove. It was terrific, and I asked for a big hunk of it. Then she suggested “an even better match” to the wine would be their only Swedish cheese, called Vasterbottensost (missing some umlauts there, sry), to which the closest (but not very) well-known equivalent I can come up with would be a cheddar. It was interesting, and I took her suggestion. I wanted a cheese that was spreadable, too, so we settled quickly on Cremont, a mild, creamy Vermont cheese. The Cremont, a lovely and delicious cheese, was very good with the wine, while the other two were terrific, in very different ways. That is to say, the wine and the cheeses affected each other in good ways, but very differently. I think if I had to choose one for a future pairing with this wine, it would be the Midnight Moon gouda.

setting131231We had more of R’s extra veggies – a carrot, peeled and cut into strips, and some sugar snap peas, stemmed and washed but not cooked. Also an entire parsnip – again, peeled and cut into strips, but not cooked – which also agreed well with the wine, a large floret of cauliflower, raw, and finally, some Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, then halved, boiled five minutes, drained, and tossed in melted butter with salt and pepper. Nothing disliked the wine and vice versa.

wine131231We had all this with an Acme Rustic Sweet Baguette, an excellent bread for good cheeses. I went to the Bowl to buy this about noon, and our friend and neighbor S, who is a distributor for Acme, was restocking the shelves already, and said he’d come from Oakland, where they had already gone through their first truckload. The gourmet bakers and food stores shut down on New Year’s, so no bread in the morning, and the Bowl is closed for two days, as at Christmas. Amazing trying to think of everything you need through Friday morning, when you’re used to being able to walk two blocks to the best grocery store on the planet to pick up whatever you need.

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