It’s heeeeere! Let’s not pretend like most of us haven’t already been shopping and decorating for the holidays. Whether it was Black Friday or Cyber Monday, I’m sure you’ve begun to find some great deals and wonderful gifts for your loved ones. Now comes the gift wrapping, meal planning, and party attending.
It’s a beautiful time of year, but let’s get real, this stuff is exhausting. Want to know how we get through the holiday madness? Chocolate, duhhhhhh. Just kidding. It’s actually chocolate and daily hugs. And cocktails. And cheese. And charcuterie. And lots of recipe testing. These Cravings are what will get us through the holidaze with smiles on our faces. They, of course, make great gifts as well—just sayin’.
CHEESE: Grotte Caputo
This is our Cheese Cave cornerstone. Grotte Caputo was our first real success story from our first cheese cave—in case you haven’t been in in awhile, we now have two glorious cheese caves. Since then, we’ve had many successes, and, well, a few blunders. But somethings never change, namely Grotte Caputo. Unaged wheels of Asiago are handled with the utmost love and care for more than 6 months in our caves before being released for sale. The end result is a crumbly, but still moist paste that is perfect for cheese plates and cooking. The flavors are sweet and nutty: think of a blend of Parmigiano Reggiano and aged Gouda. Our Red Leicester Popover recipe is the perfect way to try your hand at baking with Grotte. Serve this at your holiday party with nuts or a pear compote, but resist the urge to eat it all before everyone arrives.
CHARCUTERIE: Avalanche Finocchiona
You may know of Avalanche’s drool-inducing chevre and other goat’s milk cheeses, butwhen it comes to artisan food, the Finocchiona raises the bar yet further. Goat and pork are blended with fennel and other spices for a truly magnificent piece of salami heaven. The flavors and aroma are both sweet and complex while still maintaining a distinctly “meaty” flavor from the high-quality pork and goat used.
I don’t say this often, but I will say it with this Craving: I don’t share Avalanche Finocchiona. I could see myself gifting a stick to my dad and maybe another worthy loved one, but I am not entirely sure I could bring this to a party. It’s just too good to share the limelight with most other party fare. I’ll be saving this for small getherings where I can ensure my pals are properly appreciating the perfection they are nibbling on. This needs only to be paired with bread, in my opinion, although a mild cheese like Pecorino Toscano would be another great item to serve alongside this lovely salami.
BAR & BITTERS: Addition Rosemary Cocktail Spice
Addition falls into our Bar & Bitters category of specialty products, but Addition is something entirely its own. Rather than a complex blend of bittering roots, herbs, and the highlighted spices or flavors, Addition creates a line of products that are more reminiscent of a tincture. This cocktail spice speaks perfectly of fresh rosemary in liquid form. There are no other flavors covering it up, and no bittering agents to hinder its potency. It’s just rosemary, in its simplest and most perfect way.
Use this in gin-based cocktails, of course. But I am more excited about its uses in cooking. Bake it into scones and cakes or add to pan sauces and gravies for roasted meats and vegetables. I’ve got a fun little sweet treat up my sleeve using this as well, so stay tuned for my favorite giftable treat.
THE ULITMATE HOLIDAY: White Truffles
This is it. The most luxurious and ultimately wonderful gift for your foodie friend, or you can use it as the focal point of you holiday meal. Behold: the white truffle!
We carry truffles year round from Italy and France, but the very best are the white truffles, which are just now coming into season. While black truffles are less expensive, and less rare, they’re also able to receive a bit of heat application through cooking. White truffles, however, are very rarely cooked, only shaved directly over your main dish as both garnish and highlight. There is nothing more luxurious and delicious than a fresh, aromatic white truffle. Shave over simple egg pasta, veal scallopine, or sunny side up eggs. If you get your hands on a white truffle and simply must cook with it, I’d recommend Marcella Hazan’s Tortino di Tartufi. Here, boiled potatoes are sliced very thinly, layered with shaved white truffle, butter, and parmigiano before being baked for about 15 minutes.