Once making merely an annual appearance in holiday baked goods, ginger has steadily grown in popularity to become one of the superstars of Western kitchens.
Of course, the aromatic knobby root, with its potent heat and beguiling sweetness, has long been a beloved ingredient in Chinese, Indian, and Thai cookery. The Quran refers to a ginger beverage offered in paradise, which might have something to do with its reputation in the East as a cure-all for digestive issues.
Its versatility means that it comes in many forms, offering the opportunity to find just the right embodiment of ginger for your cheese plate. The fire of its yellow flesh can be overbearing, so it’s best to explore ginger’s sweeter side when pairing with curds. Looking for something to sip alongside your snack? Uncork an Alsatian Gewürztraminer—it goes as well with cheese as it does with ginger.
Sugary candied ginger tends to be available in two forms: crystallized (dusted with sugar) and uncrystallized. For cheese pairing, spring for the former, as it provides a sweeter mouthful; the uncrystallized variety is often spicier, although more versatile when it comes to baking.
“Candied ginger has a nice sweetness to it,” says cheesemonger Andy Swinscoe of The Courtyard Dairy in England. “Blue cheeses offset the sweetness nicely,” he says, suggesting a Gorgonzola. For added decadence, dip half of a crystallized ginger slice in melted dark chocolate and enjoy how the sweetness plays off the salt of a creamy, dense blue.
While speculoos cookies—a European spiced biscuit made since the 1800s—have always enjoyed a popularity outside the Old World, it wasn’t until the American public became aware of it in cookie butter form that a national obsession began. If you can find a jar, it’s time to bring the frenzy to the cheese board.
Look for sharp, crumbly cheeses to cut through cookie butter’s rich density. The strong flavor of these wedges also ensures they won’t be smothered if you have a heavy hand with the spread (we wouldn’t blame you).
Tea is comparable to wine in body and flavor profile, so it’s no wonder it pairs well with cheese. Ginger tea is easy to make at home, but there are also numerous ginger teas—often blended with lemon or turmeric—available to buy. With a sweeter, blended tea you can balance the salt in a gentle blue, or steep for longer and pair with the clean strength of a Caerphilly or even Castelmagno. Prefer a spicier pure ginger brew? Bring out a bold cheddar to stand up to the flavor, such as Quicke’s Vintage.
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