Last weekend Chris and I made an impromptu decision to fly up to New York for a weekend of fun at the very last minute. It was crazy - I literally woke up Thursday morning with an early yoga class in mind, and after a phone call from my husband, four hours later, I had purchased a plane ticket and was waiting to board an airplane. It was probably the most spontaneous thing we have ever done. In the past 5 years Chris and I having traveled all over the world together but we had never been to the Big Apple together. One of the places we visited was Murray's Cheese Shop in Greenwich village. This place is AMAZING. I was like a deer caught in head lights trying to take in all the beautiful displays and varieties of cheese. Cheese Heaven!!!
We ended up buying an incredible cheese that we sampled called Grana Padano. This cheese is less nutty and salty, a much more delicate cheese compared to your regular Parmesan. Think of Grana Padana as Parmigiano Reggiano's high-maintenance cousin. We learned that it is made throughout the Po River Vally in northeastern Italy, and the cheese requires the raw cow milk of two milkings, which is then partially skimmed, cooked twice and bathed in brine before aging. Serious stuff. Grana means "grain" noting the cheese's fine, flaky, granular quality and sweet, nutty bite. Murray's insists upon a 20 month age, and such high standards call for a worthy wine.*
So if you are in need a new appetizer for thanksgiving, or entertaining this holiday season? I highly recommend you serve these simple and rustic cheese hors d'oeuvres. Any type of Parmesan goes wonderfully with a high quality fig spread or preserve. The fig spread is rich and sweet and pairs well with the nutty cheese. I used Dalmatia's Fig Spread which I found in the gourmet section of my local grocery store.
1 whole wheat batard
1 jar of fig spread or fig preserves
1 block of good quality parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Line a small baking sheet with foil. Cut batard into 1cm thick pieces and evenly spread out on baking sheet. With a pastry brush or an olive oil mister, add a little bit of EVOO on each piece of bread. Season with salt and pepper and toast in a toaster oven or on in the broil until golden brown. Remove from oven. Top with a a little bit of fig spread and cheese. Enjoy!
*source: Murray's Cheese Shop