Some of my most lasting culinary tastes were formed during my time abroad in the United Kingdom. Certainly my tea habit was developed in England, with my fondest food memories coming from high tea in Harrods and strawberry cream tea in Stratford-upon-Avon. My current love of cheese grew from those days as well.
As poor college students, my friends and I found creative ways to eat well in every country we visited. Lunch in a new city after traveling through the night on a train was quite often a simple picnic of cheese and bread from a public market or little shop. We’d find a sunny spot in a public square or park to get our bearings and plan our day. If our traveling group was bigger, we’d have a larger selection of food and drink. Looking back, I didn’t realize we had it so good — sharing freshly baked bread and fragrant local cheese with good friends somewhere in Europe seems so simple and decadent all at the same time.
Back stateside in upstate New York, I experienced my first bread, cheese, and sausage board at the now-defunct Professor Moriarty’s restaurant in my college town. It reminded me of my picnics abroad, though not as spartan a spread as those.
As an adult, I learned to appreciate cheese even more when accompanied by a good glass of wine — proof positive that things (i.e., people, wine, and cheese) DO get better with age. Hat tip to the staff at Petit Louis Bistro on the Lake in Columbia, MD for introducing me to roquefort with a nice Sauternes. “Like PB & J”, indeed. Other great local MD places for a proper cheese course or charcuterie:
- Charleston in downtown Baltimore (Harbor East)
- Pure Wine Cafe in historic Ellicott City
- AIDA Wine Bar in Columbia
These days, bread and cheese is one of my all time favorite meals. I’ve extended the bread/cheese picnic to the beach while on summer vacation; usually augmented with some berries and a nice prosciutto. In my own home, I indulge in a simple plate of brie and baguette on occasion. I much prefer to share it with my sisters, as we’ve been known to blow through an entire wheel of camembert in one sitting; but only if left unsupervised.
Most recently, I served a respectable charcuterie plate as an Thanksgiving appetizer:
There’s a buttermilk bleu cheese, a stilton with cranberries, and a medium brie in there with sopressata and red grapes. Thank goodness for Wegmans and their impressive cheese shop — Thanksgiving indeed.
Any other recommendations for great charcuterie board? Do share. And thank you in advance.