When you’re the person in your family/friend group with an excess of cheese knowledge, your phone tends to ring randomly throughout the week. I’ve learned to stay ready for the “What should I get off this cheese menu?” call, the “Is this mold okay?” text and all the other cheese questions which may come my way at any time of day. Here’s an example of a call I got recently:
So my phone rings and I’m delighted to see the face of a good friend who I’ve known since I was a teenager. I heard a familiar echoey hum in the background which I’ve learned over the years to be distinct to only one type of location: the grocery store. I put on my invisible cheese expert hat and braced myself for the query:
“Hey, so I’m having a socially distanced dinner at my coworker’s house tonight and I wanted to bring some fancy cheese but I only had time to go to *generic grocery store name* and I’m realizing that their whole selection is really limited and boring. Maybe I just shouldn’t get cheese?”
My first thought was simple: “No, you should always get cheese.” We’ll just have to get a little creative this time.
Secondly I thought about my friend. She’s the mystic, witchy, artsy type. She gives a great tarot card reading and owns more crystals and animal skulls than I can name. I imagined what kind of cheese sorcery she would caste if she had a wand handy to help solve this problem; Some magical way to take one of these snooze-inducing cheeses to the next level. I leafed through the spell book in my own mind and found an image which struck me like a broomstick to the head: ethereal white cheese chunks floating weightlessly in glistening green oil, undulating in a colorful brew of spices and herbs. “Marinated Chèvre!” I shouted. Here’s what she’ll need:
1. A jar. For my friend this meant repurposing a mason jar intended for candlemaking or crushed crow’s beak (probably). But for you this just means a trip to the housewares aisle.
2. A log of plain fresh goat’s milk cheese, also known as Chèvre. It’s the French-style crumbly stuff you’re used to seeing on salads. I told my friend to look for the Vermont Creamery logo because I like that brand, but any of them will work.
3. A nice-ish olive oil. Enough to fill a jar, obvi.
4. Sprigs of something green and herby. I like thyme, rosemary, sage, or whatever!
5. Peppercorns. The pink ones are pretty if you have it but black is fine too. Don’t stress if you only have pre-ground pepper, that’s cool too.
6. Garlic or olives or little red chilis or any other weird spice you have around! Whatever sounds tasty and looks pretty (but maybe save the crow’s beak for another recipe).
Next is pretty obvious: I instructed her to slice the goat cheese into disks or chunks, put it in the jar with the herb sprigs, top with whatever else and fill ‘er up. Easy peasy!
If you’re like my friend and need to impress a host with only a limited cheese selection to shop from, this Marinated Chèvre option is increds. It’s pretty, delicious, and looks like it took much more effort than it did. Keep in mind that the flavors in your magical jar of tastiness will only strengthen over time, so doing this a couple of days in advance is even better if you can swing it. Pick up a nice baguette or rustic loaf of bread to complete the bite and make it an even nicer hostess gift or contribution to a dinner spread.
One last note for those with cheese experts in their life: keep calling for help finding your way out of life’s cheese-induced predicaments. We like the challenge!