Friday, November 19, 2010

A moment to obsess over fall goodies

It's getting to be that time of year - the holidays - which means epic specialty foods are popping up like gophers. I've managed to get my hands on some of these specialty items, but sometimes it's a close call.

I have a few trusted vendors I keep in touch with, including Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Just Grapes, and others. I get e-mails and Facebook updates telling me about the great new thing, and I usually try to pick some up.

First, a month or two ago was the Rogue River Bleu, a lovely bleu cheese wrapped in grape leaves and soaked in pear brandy. Yes, it was amazing, and yes, it was expensive. I highly enjoyed my little sliver from Pastoral. Usually I sprinkle heaps onto my salads, but this was just too special.

Then, last week was the new release from Uplands Cheese, Rush Creek Reserve. Uplands is a single-cheese producing farm in Wisconsin that Dave and I visited on our epic cheese and beer excursion in October. We met the cheese makers, we played with their dog, we bought a wedge of their award-winning Pleasant Ridge Reserve (similar to a gruyere). So when I heard that, for the first time, they were releasing a new cheese - Rush Creek Reserve - I knew we had to get a wheel.

Problem was, they sold out the first shipment last week in a matter of hours. I was not happy. But I knew they'd get more, and sure enough, I got the message to pre-order my wheel of Rush Creek for Monday. It'll be like Christmas morning. I found out they sold out within a few hours of posting the call for pre-orders. Guess I got in by a nose.

Finally, this year I partook in Beaujolais Day - the third Thursday in November on which France releases its crop of Beaujolais Nouveau wine. I'd never tried it, but Just Grapes posted a 15% off sale and offered some tastes. It's very fruity, and I could see how it would work well with Thanksgiving meal. Maybe I'll bring my bottle to pre-Thanksgiving at my parents' house this Sunday. (I don't think it would travel well to West Virginia, and I'm not sure you're supposed to bring alcohol on planes anyway.)

With all these things going on, it makes me realize how important it is to cultivate contacts in the local food world for obtaining some specialty seasonal items. It took a Loop-working foodie like me weeks to track down a wheel of the Rush Creek, and if you didn't know about it, you'd never taste it. So I'll keep the contacts up, and I guess Dave can reap the benefits of my food experimentations.

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