hook's cheddar

#1

Some may say I’m a bit obsessive when I find something that I like (Barry). Whether it be a type of fruit I’ve never seen before, or a store that carries hard to find cheeses, I become an infomercial for a whole new set of things every few months. My friends don’t want to hear it anymore, so here it goes:

I have one morning a week to sleep in past 5. Still, I wake up early to the thought of the Chocolate Almond Raspberry croissant at Darshan Bakery and Cafe in Encinitas. With it’s bittersweet chocolate, tangy jam, and crunchy almonds, it’s the best croissant I’ve had outside of France. Darshan is a tiny little bakery on 2nd street that you would miss if you blinked. It’s owned by a fabulously hard working couple named Tim and Heidi. They make their dough by hand here and can be found in the kitchen baking fresh every morning. Their passion for good food is clear in the simplicity and warmth of their bakery. Everytime I go there is something new to try, but I always get a croissant.

Banyuls vinegar is something I worked with for years at Market and Arterra, but never realized how much I loved it until I wasn’t eating it everyday. Banyuls is most commonly known as a dessert wine from the Banyuls-sur-Mer region of France. Ironically, Banyuls vinegar is a more savory vinegar than most. Comprised of 50% grenache noir, 40% grenache gris, and 10% carignane, the vinegar starts it’s 5 year aging process in large tanks in a cool cellar, and is later transferred into smaller barrels and placed outside for the next 4 years. Here, it’s exposed to the hot sun and cool winds of the Pyrenees, which help accelerate the aging process. The result is the most delicious vinegar around! Banyuls is a nutty, slightly briney vinegar that goes with almost everything. Things to do: Make a banyuls vinaigrette and use it on everything. 3 tbsp vinegar, 2 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp water, 3/4 olive oil, 1/2 shallot, chopped, salt and pepper.

I love coffee like some people love wine. Okay, fine…I’m a coffee snob, but there’s nothing grosser than weak, lifeless, acidic coffee. I drink my coffee black, so there is no dressing up something that just isn’t good. My favorite coffee right now is Cafe Virtuoso’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. This is an organic, shade grown coffee with perfectly balanced acidity and just the right amount of roast on the beans. Cafe Virtuoso is an organic, fair trade local coffee roaster that can be found at the La Jolla farmer’s market every Sunday.

It’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth, but just as much as I love sweets, I love all things salty. Cheese is no exception. One of the best cheeses out there is Hook’s 10 year aged cheddar from Wisconsin. This is a super sharp, slightly crumbly, bright orange cheese that is delicious on it’s own, but even better with a slice of warm apple pie. The Hook’s have been making cheese for 35 years, and clearly they know what they are doing. They also make 3 different blue cheeses, my favorite of which is the Tilston Point. It’s a cheddary, sliceable blue with crunchy crystalized pieces throughout. If you are only going to eat one cheddar before you die (god forbid), make it Hook’s.

Last but not least for this addition of my favorite things is something that Barry makes fun of me for on a regular basis: my love affair with sweetened condensed milk. But seriously! It’s almost the perfect ingredient. It comes in a can, you can use it to sweeten your coffee if you so choose, put it on your oatmeal in the morning, boil it in the can for 4 hours and you have dulce de leche, make a key lime pie, or just eat it out of the can. What more could a girl ask for?

66 Responses to “These are a few of my favorite things…”

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