Spicy additions to your holiday cheese board

by Kelly on November 21, 2012

With Thanksgiving less than 24 hours away I’m declaring the holiday entertaining season on! Though to be honest, I’ve been pinning ideas for holiday tablescapes, recipes and cocktails for weeks now.

As a lover of all things fromage, it’s no surprise that a good cheeseboard is an essential for me when throwing holiday gatherings. And I know I’m not the only one! A good cheese plate can be an easy entertaining win. They’re a low effort crowd pleaser that can be tailored to virtually any budget or range of palates. I’m hard pressed to think of many other appetizers that can say the same thing.  But when you serve cheese as much as I do, one of the challenges can be to keep things fresh and interesting. Because while I have a mental catalog of tried and true cheeses (many of which have made appearances on the blog in my Fromage Friday posts) that I know are regular hits I can’t resist my inner urge to add a bit of novelty.

So I wanted to share a couple of yummy products that let you spice up your cheese board – literally.

My first pick is Carr Valley Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar. I picked it up on a recent trip to one of their retail stores and had to resist the urge to wolf a whole wedge down in one sitting. I love this cheese for entertaining because it takes a style of cheese – cheddar – that is pretty universally beloved in the states and gives it an intriguing twist. It has an addictive smokiness its creators describe as tasting like “the best Texas Barbeque sauce” with mild burn on the finish. The cranberry not only adds a subtle sweetness to balance out the heat, but also gives a nod to traditional holiday flavors.

I often like pairing cheese and salumi together for a cheese board that feels more substantial and filling. I liked this cheese with Columbus Cajun Salame because there were some similarities in the flavor profile. I received this product and a few others to sample from Columbus and thought this pairing would be a food marriage made in heaven. Like the Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar, the Cajun Salame also has a slight sweetness, but from Italian fennel. And of course, there’s also noticeable, but not overpowering, heat from hot peppers.

If you have heat seekers among your friends and family – and I know I do – these cheeses are sure to be a hit with them and add some variety to your cheese board a the same time.

And because I can never have enough cheeses on my “to try” list I’m curious to hear from others. Are there spicy cheeses or salumi you’re in love with?

It’s worth noting that I did receive free samples of Columbus products to review on the blog.  But as always, my opinions are 100% my own.  The Carr Valley Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar was purchased on my own.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

The Duo Dishes November 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Love the Columbus salami. Trader Joe’s sells it, and it’s a great product. Have a great Thanksgiving!

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Kelly November 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Yes! That is where I usually buy it as well along with Target. They make some pre-packaged sliced prosciutto as well that is delicious when I am too lazy to go to the deli counter.

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Shannon November 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm

clearly i don’t try enough cheese… i tend to stick to my favorites! need that cranberry chipotle, though :)

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Kelly November 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I tend to do the same thing! I have to consciously tell myself to try something new because I have so many favorites that I already love and that I know are deeply satisfying. This one was worth switching it up though. I only wish I had taken some leftovers from Thanksgiving because I think it would have made a fantastic “leftovers”panini with some sliced roast turkey, cranberry sauce, and generous slices of cranberry chipotle cheese.

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Sues November 29, 2012 at 10:33 am

Mmm cranberry chipotle cheddar! I am a huge sucker for a good cheese board :)

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