Thanksgiving dessert almost always comes down to a choice between pumpkin and pecan (or both, if mashed potatoes haven't infringed on your pie appetite.)
But it's perfectly acceptable to forgo the sweet stuff and end the holiday meal with cheese. Cheese offers both a respite for the palate - while traditional Thanksgiving menus feature lots of sugary and nutty flavors, funk and tang are in short supply - and the perfect accompaniment to continuing conversation.
So what belongs on the Thanksgiving cheese plate? We asked Patty Floersheimer of goat.sheep.cow to suggest a few American-made cheeses. She came up with a trio of cow's milk cheeses, which, as her shop's name suggests, is a departure from her typical cheese plate strategy.
"Frankly, we think no one would guess they're all the same animal as the variety of texture and taste is so good," she promises.
Floersheimer is a fan of Four Fat Fowl Artisan Creamery's St. Stephen, a buttery triple-cream from upstate New York. "How can we resist the fowl reference?" she says. Four Fat Fowl's website describes the cheese as having "an earthy flavor with nutty undertones." Floersheimer likes to pair it with sparkling wine.
For a harder cheese, Floersheimer nominated the highly decorated Barely Buzzed from Utah's Beehive Cheese. The cheese, rubbed with lavender and Turkish coffee, has four times won first-place honors from the American Cheese Society. As Floersheimer points out, the coffee-garnished cheese could be the ideal complement to a slice of apple pie.
Finally, for a blue cheese, Floersheimer picked the highly seasonal Rogue River Blue from Rogue Creamery in Oregon. "This raw milk blue is wrapped in Syrah grape leaves that have been soaked in pear brandy," she explains. "It's only available for a limited time during the fall and winter." The Rogue River Blue calls out for brandy or sweet wine, since drinking dessert is always an option at Thanksgiving, too.