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. :)