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Amid the endless jams, honeys, pickled fruits, syrups, crackers and other accompaniments for cheese at last week’s Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, these glamorous Italian mustard fruits (mostarda) stood out. Aren’t they lovely? If you are assembling a cheese board for a special occasion, consider investing in a jar. (They’re not cheap.) Or take a jar to a cheese enthusiast when you’re invited to dinner.

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Welcome Back, Mimolette

After an absence of more than a year, the pumpkin-hued Mimolette is back. I spotted it at Bay Area cheese counters at holiday time—with that screaming orange interior, you can’t miss it—and retailers told me it was selling briskly. But they couldn’t explain why the FDA had apparently softened its stand on this dangerous import.

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Cheese Shop Forecast

What's ahead for America’s cheese counters? As 2014 draws to a close, I asked some leading cheese merchants and mavens to share their insights. I hoped someone would say that American sheep’s milk cheeses were trending, but no one did. So that’s my wish for 2015, if not my prediction.  

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Aroma Coma

Last week at the grocery store, I watched a woman casually drop $200 on white truffles. When the clerk weighed them and announced the price, the customer didn’t flinch but I did. I got to enjoy the aroma briefly while the precious nuggets were on the scale, and that’s probably as close as I’ll get to white truffles this year.

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Ripple Effect

Seasonal and costly but a splurge you won’t regret, the cheese pictured at right is luscious beyond words. I’d like to call it Vacherin Mont d’Or but I can’t. The official name is Petit Vaccarinus, which sounds like a condition that requires antibiotics. But aficionados will recognize it as a Vacherin twin, identical to that sought-after Swiss cow’s milk cheese in almost every way that matters.

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Betting on Alpha

If you’re a guest on Thanksgiving and haven’t yet settled on a gift for your host, put cheese on your short list. An American Cheddar might be the obvious choice, but I’m going to nominate Alpha Tolman, an aged Vermont cheese that any host should be happy to get. It has several features that fit the occasion: an approachable flavor that even children will like; durability (for those all-weekend houseguests); and a nutty character that will enhance the turkey sandwiches.

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Cheesecake Heaven

Finally, a cranberry dessert I like. Could that be because it’s mostly cheese?
 
I’ve been waiting for the right occasion to share the recipe for this fluffy cheesecake, and in the meantime the berry season has slipped by. But wait: we have cranberries. They wouldn’t have been my first thought as an accompaniment, but they do make a gleaming ruby sauce that really does cut the richness.

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