Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cranberries for the Holiday Table

'Tis the season for cranberries to lend their festival color to holiday spreads. Beyond their vibrant color, their late fall harvest lends reason to see these berries popping up this time of year. So tart, these are one of the few berries that are not suitable for eating fresh, on their own. Instead they make their way into juices, baked goods and jellies/compotes/sauces. Ingrained in our mind is the hand-ground cranberry-orange compote Grandma always used to make for Thanksgiving dinner. Also ingrained is memory of how bitter it was to a child's palate. But palates change and our experience with cranberries has greatly expanded.

This year, starting with the great pairing we found during our recent cheese and beer pairing, and continuing with additional cranberry beer, cider and cheese coming across our radar we felt compelled to round up some of these festive-looking goods. By no means is this a comprehensive cranberry round up, even in the realm of cheese, beer and cider, however all of these should be relatively easy to find should something here catch your eye.

The Goods
- Portland Cider Company Cranberry
- Lompoc Barrel-Aged Cranberry Saison
- North Coast Berliner Weisse Cranberry-Quince
- Long Clawson Wensleydale with Cranberry
- Trader Joe's White Stilton with Cranberries
- Cinnamon sugar won tons*

For those that read our beer and cheese pairing post, you already know that we were enamored with the combination of North Coast Cranberry-Quince and Long Clawson cheese. The addition of the cinnamon sugar won tons gave the pairing an added boost and provided an edible vehicle for the cheese. The white Stilton wasn't a complete bust with the beer and may appeal to those who prefer a more savory flavor profile.

We recently had a chance to try Lompoc's Cranberry Saison along with a specially created slider, a pairing we enjoyed but a much easier to recreate pairing would be picking up a bottle of it and a hunk of white Stilton. The pairing, like with the Berliner Weisse, leans savory and is also nice with cinnamon sugar won tons, especially considering the crumbly nature of the cheese (which we think would be great on a salad or as a component of an apple pie crust).

Finally, Portland Cider Company Cranberry, a cider that was brought to our attention by the company was certainly the most vibrantly colored drink of the three. With an aroma reminiscent of Kool-Aid and a flavor we found to fall between juice and Kool-Aid, this is a gateway cider. We preferred it with the white Stilton, which helped to balance the sweetness, but have a hunch that it would be really good with apple pie. Why is there never an apple pie around when you need one?

So whether you're hosting a gathering or attending one this holiday season, making a festive contribution is as easy as grabbing a bottle and a hunk of cheese. Simple can be delicious.

*Cinnamon sugar won ton chips
1 package square won ton wrappers (found in the produce section of Fred Meyer or elsewhere)
4 Tbsp butter, melted
cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup sugar + 3/4 tsp cinnamon)

Cut won tons in half, corner to corn, transforming the squares into triangles.
Brush one side with butter, flip over and brush the second side with butter. Fold in half and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 3-4 minutes, or until the edges start to become golden. Turn over, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for another 3-4 minutes or until the edges are golden.

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