I want to share those things that make me happy and usually don’t cost very much. Everything is relative, but relative to a pair of shoes or a weekend getaway, these little tasty bits are pretty darn doable.
DALMATIA ADRIATIC FIG SPREAD: I could tell you that figs are healthy and have tons of fiber and that these particular figs are hand picked on the coast of Croatia, but the reason I snag up a jar almost weekly at Whole Paycheck is because it tastes like heaven.
I usually put it on my cheese plate along with some Lehua honey. It pairs well with any cheese and I hear people use it on pizzas when figs aren’t in season and in salad dressing as well. I am sure there are many uses for this sweet, yet tangy preserve, but I favor it alone on a spoon when no one is looking. I am surprised that Whole Foods sells it for a modest $4.99. I have seen it online for upwards of $7.99. It is worth it? Yes. Is it necessary? Not really.
These little puppies are not cheap as far as crackers go. RAINCOAST CRISPS by Leslie Stowe are so unique and so good you can’t help but plunk down $6.99 (to $8.99). I have been known to stand in front of them at the store and just stare for about 5 minutes until I finally lose the battle of wills and throw them in the basket.
They come in six flavor combos, but my favorite are the cranberry and hazelnut crisps. It is as if someone baked a miniature rectangle loaf of fruity nutty bread, sliced it and made crackers. There are a few other companies making similar products that taste great, but I am partial to these. The company calls them “conversation starters” because that is what they are. Every time I put them out as part of my cheese outfit, people inquire, rave and gobble. They are fantastic alone or topped with cheese and the fig stuff from the first paragraph. There are also recipes floating around, but I am not a baker. Let me know if you attempt to make your own and succeed. I will give you $4 for a box.
PALACIOS CHORIZO is my simple Spanish weakness. Ingredients: Pork, paprika, salt, garlic, and pork’s natural casing. The packaging aint pretty, but I want folks to be able to recognize it easily at the store. You may disrobe it and eat it at home. This chorizo is the real deal. Delicious sliced up and eaten straight out of the packaging or prepared in a dish. It comes in mild and hot and hot is not very hot. The simplicity of this sausage is what I love the most. I like to leave it at room temp for a little before I eat it. It is fabulous chopped up and thrown into the broth with mussels or clams or sauteed in a pan with onions and garbanzo beans. I have 3/4 of a package in the fridge that is calling to me. I enjoy paying between $5.99 and $6.99, but the word has gotten out and I have seen it for $8.99. Those scoundrels! NOTE: I make a little score with a knife along the length and remove the casing.
I will end this tasty tale with some cheese. BLUE BAYLEY HAZEN was my favorite blue cheese. Ok, it is still in my top three of all time. If you don’t like blue cheese or any cheese, this is where you can go on that errand you needed to go on or get back to work. My new favorite blue is unfortunately a limited edition. It is called Rogue Creamery 50th Anniversary Special Reserve Oregon Blue Cheese. That was a mouthful.
I believe you can only get it at Whole Foods and not sure for how long. Sad face. The flavor of this wonderful blue is nutty and blue without the bite. It has a creamy mouth feel and leaves the palate feeling warm and happy. I like to eat it alone or on a cracker with some of my favorite honey. If you are into blue, you need to try this. I think a wheel is only $185. Wink wink. It is not inexpensive, but a little goes a long way. A little chunk can put you out $9 to $14.
Ladies and gentlemen if you like creamy creamy creamy goodness then you have to try some BRILLAT SAVARIN. I just love to say the name. Clearly French, this cheese hails from Normandy and even though the Wikipedia says that it can be faintly sour when ripe, the one I get at WF is only creamy and milky. It is a triple creme and feels sorta like eating butter in the best way. The word “decadent” comes to mind.
If you are in a quandry about what cheeses to put out at your next party, I recommend A Blue Bayley or a Rogue Blue, Brillat Savarin, a nutty and delicious 5 YEAR AGED GOUDA and if your crowd isn’t crazy about blue, you can replace it with a COTSWALD. I love Cotswold because it is a very straight forward cheese. I describe it as a cheddar with chives, but it is actually an English Double Gloucester with tiny bits of chive and onion. A definite crowd pleaser. Yum!