Did you know that more Certified Cheese Professionals work at Whole Foods Market than any retailer in the world? Besides their encyclopedic knowledge of cheese — how it’s made, stored, selected and served — these pros have something else in common: a deep and abiding love of food!We thought the holiday party season would be a great time to ask them about cheese and food/drink pairings they’re excited about. Here are some highlights from their enthusiastic response:“One of my favorite pairings is one of our exclusive items — Mons St. Soleil. A cheese that smells like dirty socks never tasted so good! This cheese is savory, luscious and a bit wild…okay I like cheeses like that! Don't let the rind turn you off, the B. linens bacteria develop through the washing of the cheese with Marc de Bourgogne aged French brandy. I love it with a grenache or a light pinot noir, or even an amber beer. The flavors of the wine or beer highlight some of the unique characteristics — rich, brothy, even light leathery components — of the cheese. I like it on a plain baguette thinly sliced.” — Cathy Strange, Global Cheese Buyer
“Brooklyn Black Ops Stout with Persillé de Beaujolais cheese. The fudgy creamy texture of the Persillé complements the smooth almost creamy body of the Black Ops beautifully. Sometimes I like to add Taza chocolates to this pairing. This cheese/chocolate combo goes really well with coffee as well for the same flavor combinations.” — Hebe Denis, Specialty Team Leader
“Give me a wedge of Stichelton blue cheese and a pile of caramelized pecans and I’m happy. Alternatively, I love Gabriel Coulet Roquefort, with a drizzle of honey and a pear.” — Michele Lacatena, Specialty Associate Coordinator
“I really get excited about the Rush Creek Reserve cheese — pairing with nice crispy dill pickles is a guilty pleasure. Yum!” — Leah McFadden, Associate Perishables Buyer
“I’m totally digging the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company Governor’s Cheddar with the Holiday Top 10 Grace Lane Riesling. This lovely cheddar starts with a honey sweet note, a nip of sharpness and a satisfying crystal crunch; the love affair begins when the bite hits the back of the palate and there is an outrageous tropical fruit note — an “Oh Wow!” experience. Paired up with the Grace Lane Riesling: one impression at the tip of the tongue to a fruity fullness at the back. Just a really fun taste experience.” — Erika Carlson, Specialty Team Leader
“My favorite holiday paring is generally something ooey gooey like Vacherin or Winnimere cheese on a crunchy, salty La Panzanella-like cracker with a yeasty Champagne like Billecart-Salmon. I think I've died and gone to heaven!” — Mikey Plannett, Specialty Team Leader
“Humboldt Fog and Le Terroir (a sour ale from New Belgium Brewing Co.) — the slight bitterness plays well off the acidity of the cheese. It has effervescence and citrus that marry well with the density and citrus in the cheese. Add some Rutherford & Meyer Plum Fruit Paste — the sweetness of the plum plays well against the acidity of the goat’s milk.” Brad Daschbach, Specialty Team Leader
All our stores are different and the selections vary but your local Whole Foods Market cheesemonger is sure to have equally delicious and enthusiastic cheese pairing recommendations. Just ask!
What are some of your favorite cheese pairings this holiday season? Post your ideas below.