A longing for an old home United States tradition made me conceive of the notion of Cheesegiving. I’m Ashley, an American now living in Paris working in the cheese industry. I was going to be in Paris for Thanksgiving and I really missed the sense of togetherness and family that holiday always stirs up. I shared with my partner Fabrice at Le Cheese Geek my love for this holiday meal tradition and playfully suggested that maybe we could host our very own Cheesegiving party. What better way to try something fun and merge our cultures together in the name of French cheese and Thanksgiving dishes?
Cheesegiving was more of a fantasy a first. An idea that we tossed around merrily joking thinking that it would be cool to do but impossible to execute. Slowly the joking began to become more serious as we prodded each other, peppering with light hearted questions such as meal ideas and the event conception. We came to realize that this was something we just had to do, even if we had no idea how to plan for an event such as this, no set location, no actual concrete plan other than raw desire. We were looking at less than 10 days to organize Cheesegiving in addition to keeping up with our regular business dealings and classes. We played a guessing game with nearly everything - the amount of people that would attend, the venue, the number of dishes...almost all aspects were floating around undecided until 2 days before the event. It was a welcome rush of preparation and furious planning. We were both anxious but very excited at what our ideas would taste like.
We wanted to create unique dishes that were modern and different but also really celebrate the spirit of togetherness and holidays. We created 6 tapas-style dishes for our menu: a brussels sprout slider, a stuffing slider, a camembert pastry boat, a mac & cheese, a duck slider, and a berry cobbler. Aside from the dessert, each dish had a French cheese that we carefully selected to bring out the best of both worlds. We settled on hosting our event in a beautiful Parisian apartment located in the the hip 17th arrondissement of Paris. Our main group of people we focused on invited were American expats since they would be familiar with the holiday and clearly not at home to enjoy it. We ended up getting a great mixture of people: 5 Americans, 4 Japanese, 3 French, and 1 Macanese. The day was spent hustling and cooking in the kitchen, frantically trying to create tasty and elegant dishes. I was beyond nervous considering we had never done something like this and I felt extremely responsible having the experience with the Thanksgiving holiday. Cheesegiving did not disappoint, exceeding our wildest dreams. Our guests were so happy and complimentary of all of the dishes that we created. We were thrilled to see everyone unite as this one foreign family of strangers, joined in deep laughter and pleasure.
List of the dishes we created:
Stuffing Slider (#1 guests' favorite)
Sweet potato mashed chip, fresh goat cheese, herbed-sausage stuffing, and pomegranate seeds
Chèvre frais from Beillevaire’s Machecoul farm is tangy and creamy, a great compliment to the savory and sweet flavors of the slider
Mac & Cheese (#2 guests' favorite)
18-months aged Comté and Appenzeller Extra cheese with a creamy herb sauce and breadcrumbs
Comté is nutty and sweet while Appenzeller is beefy and garlicky, making a pretty sweet mac & cheese
Camembert Boat (#3 guests' favorite)
Pastry boat, raw honey, Camembert de Normandie, apples, spices, caramelized pecans
Camembert de Normandie is heavy with notes of cauliflower and turnip, so it balances beautifully with sweeter faired foods
Brussel Sprout Slider (#4 guests' favorite)
Caramelized roasted brussel sprouts, Maroilles cheese, thick cut bacon, and raspberry sauce
Maroilles is a washed rind funker that is savory and yeasty, perfect to mesh with the strong rooted flavors of the sprouts and the acidity of the raspberry sauce
Toasted seeded bread, whole-grain honey mustard, roasted duck magret, Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage herb mash potatoes, and raspberry sauce
Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage taste like the most buttery filet mignon, which gives the potatoes an extra creamy and luscious kick
Blackberry, griotte, raspberry, and blueberry cobbler
No cheeses for our dessert!