Our Cheesy Holiday Vacation

Bryan and I are out of town this week at several destinations: First, at a ranch with my family north of Santa Barbara, then San Francisco for a friend's wedding, and finally back in his hometown of San Carlos for a belated Christmas with his family. We're driving through more than our fair share of the "San" and "Santa" towns the great of California has to offer. It's a whirlwind to say the least, but I'm still cooking up lots of recipe ideas and taking photo after photo of the fun and delicious meals we're having. However, in the midst of packing, I forgot my camera cord...so I'll have to wait until we're back home to post them.

One particular snack we're really enjoying at the ranch is a full "Wine Country Basket" we made for my family. You see, Bryan started coming with my family to this ranch three years ago, and on his first trip he brought a basket full of goodies from Napa and the Bay area for my parents. He's such a great guy, as this was all without any of my input or knowledge whatsoever. It was the perfect gift as my parents, brother and I usually have a small spread of cheeses, crackers and wine before heading to dinner, but nothing to the extent Bryan brought. He put together a basket full of gourmet cheeses, fresh Sourdough bread, Woodhouse chocolates, Trefethen wine, Molinari salami, etc. Amazing doesn't properly describe it.

The basket was such a hit that we've made it a tradition over the past few years. Well, this year we decided to make a basket and give it to my parents as part of their Christmas gift. We packed it chalk full of deliciousness: Berkeley-based salami, Olivier house blend olive oil, a French cow's milk cheese, Rogue River blue cheese, Humboldt Fog goat cheese, Woodhouse chocolates, spiced pecans and even some mini crispy rice and peanut butter chocolate bars. Couple that with my mom's homemade loaf of banana bread and you've got yourself an incredible appetizer spread.

Random sidebar, but speaking of cheeses, you know you're a gourmet food lover when you go into a gourmet shop and start asking for cheeses based on their origin. Forget asking, "I'm looking for a good blue cheese." Instead it's become, "Point Reyes Blue Cheese is my favorite, but I don't see it in your selection. Can you point me to a similar handcrafted, organic blue cheese from coastal California?" That's insane, but it makes me so incredibly happy to be able to have educated conversations with other people – in this case, cheese experts – about some of my favorite foods.

But back to the basket. I've got photos of the cheeses that I'll post in a few days, and I hope there are others out there who can appreciate the gorgeous line of ash running through Humboldt Fog goat cheese just as much as I do. In the meantime, we'll wait until 5:00pm to break into the basket and crack open a bottle of wine with my family. Since we're driving to San Francisco tomorrow, we've got to enjoy as much of the basket's goodies as we can. And then my parents get to enjoy the rest of it after we leave. We're jealous already. :)


  1. Your friends from Point Reyes Farmstead here-- Thanks Christie - we LOVED your reference to Point Reyes Blue! While we are shocked and dismayed to learn that you have not found our cheese in a cheesemonger's case (you obviously have discerning tastes when it comes to retailers), we're tickled to hear that you hold Point Reyes Blue as a gold standard by which to compare other artisan cheese. (Have you tried Bayley Hazen by the way? It is fantastic.) Happy New Year! Your blog is great!

  2. Hi Jill! Thanks so much for reading and for the comment! Point Reyes is hands-down my favorite blue and while I'm able to find it at some of my favorite foodie haunts, it wasn't available at Joan's on Third in L.A. My husband and I substituted Rogue River, which is delicious but missing that "special something" inherent in Point Reyes. I'll definitely look into Bayley Hazen, thanks for the tip. Happy New Year to you and everyone at Point Reyes!


Related Posts with Thumbnails