Illustrated by Michelle Vieira
This is a year to deck the halls, but keep the punch bowl packed away. Entertaining as we have known it is out the window for the foreseeable future. But even though the holiday season is uncertain, this time of year doesn’t have to be depressing. Cheese is always the answer, but the way we approach it with social distancing in mind takes some creativity. Enter: micro cheese boards. These pint-sized cheese plates are intended for one or two people, generally those with whom you are already quarantined. Try these combinations over Zoom with family and friends to see how everyone arranges their individual boards.
MILTON CREAMERY PRAIRIE BREEZE
+ ROASTED CHESTNUTS
+ MAPLE CREAM
Prairie Breeze is a crystalline, salty-sweet cheddar hailing from Iowa. I particularly love it topped with buttery roasted chestnuts and sticky-sweet maple cream. Maple cream is a dense and sweet creamy confection made by whipping maple syrup until it creates a consistency similar to peanut butter. If you can’t find maple cream, this is just as delicious with good maple syrup.
ROGUE CREAMERY ROGUE RIVER BLUE
+ HOLIDAY COOKIES
Winner of 2019/2020’s World Cheese Awards, the seasonal Rogue River Blue is sweet and boozy from its wrapping in syrah grape leaves soaked with pear spirits. This blue is the perfect cheese to pair with holiday cookies—especially gingerbread or dark chocolate cookies. A hint of spice or bitter balances out the intense sweetness of this blue.
+ COCONUT MACAROONS
For this micro board, I recommend a local fresh chèvre (aka goat cheese) so it is as fresh and light as possible. If you can’t find a local one, Vermont Creamery and Laura Chenel both make easy-to-find, high quality goat cheese that is available nationally. Stack a piece of plain or honey-flavored chèvre with a fresh slice of a satsuma mandarin orange (or any in-season citrus) on top of a coconut macaroon. The macaroon may sound weird, but the elements totally balance one another out.
VERMONT CREAMERY BIJOU
+ POMEGRANATE SEEDS
+ PISTACHIOS ON CHOCOLATE PIZZELLE
Vermont Creamery Bijou is a twin pack of soft ripened goat cheeses, the perfect treat for two. As a play on French Chabichou du Poitou, Bijou is a small button of bright and cakey goat goodness. This cheese sings paired with in-season pomegranate seeds and salty pistachios on top of almond or chocolate flavored pizzelles, a traditional Italian holiday cookie made in a variety of flavors and available in many grocery stores.
BAKED SWEET GRASS DAIRY GREEN HILL
+ CANDIED CRANBERRIES
+ BALSAMIC GLAZE
Green Hill is a buttery, grassy Camembert-style round. When baked, it is oozy and extra rich. For a play on the classic holiday appetizer, I recommend sugaring fresh cranberries for a sweet-tart topping along with a small slab of sweet honeycomb. This is also delicious with a drizzle of balsamic glaze to cut the creaminess of the cheese.
TOMALES FARMSTEAD TELEEKA
+ PUMPKIN BUTTER
Teleeka is a northern California take on the Italian La Tur. It is a wrinkly, oozy cow, sheep, and goat’s milk cheese that is rich and delightful. This cheese particularly rocks on top of a thin caramel stroopwafel, topped with pumpkin butter. It feels festive and indulgent.If you can’t find Teleeka, La Tur is generally much easier to find nationwide and is very similar in flavor profile. I particularly love this with a steaming cup of hot cocoa.