Tomme de Ma Grand-Mère: a mild goat cheese produced just south of the Loire Valley. Its bloomy rind conceals a brilliant velvety interior that carries a hint of salty mushroominess and manages to be simultaneously dry and creamy in texture. Not as complex and heart-stopping as its flashy cousin Tomme Crayeuse but pleasing nonetheless. Wedded with a bit of honey it is scrumptious. Also wins points for sounding like an oath one might hear roared by a medieval baron upon hearing that the goats have fled the fief.
Durrus: a washed rind Irish cheese made from raw cow's milk that thankfully makes its way into the states. Smooth and and slightly gummy, it leaves an uncomplicated but lasting taste with a faint after-kick of salt.
Lincolnshire Poacher: a sharp smoked British cheddar named after this fantastic ditty, the poacher packs the punch of an aged cheese without being too crumbly or salty. Smooth but yielding a satisfying snap, it went perfectly with the membrillo and hot coppa.
Gres de Vosges: somewhat like a Camembert or Munster and graced with a decorative fern leaf, the Gres de Vosges is oozy but not runny or offensively stinky. The mellow saltiness melts across the tongue and lacks the bitter aftertaste of so many stinky cheeses.
Membrillo: quince paste, of Spanish origin and preferable to the increasingly popular guava paste. Complements salty cheeses such as Manchego, Idiazabal, Cheddar etc.
Hot Coppa: I don't know much about meats, but this had a full and very slightly salty taste that went especially well with the Poacher.
Air-Cured Genoa: see above re I know nothing about meats. This had a lighter and less salty flavor than I have come to expect from stiff salamis. It was inoffensive and went nicely with the dried fruits.
Honey: see "delicious."
small treats: dried cranberries, dried cherries, hazelnuts, tamari roasted almonds. I'm running out of bluster and gustatory foofery: these were all super good.
disclaimer: I've been known to eat my fair share of cheese in one sitting but lest you think I laid this out on the floor to allow for solo reclining and gorging in order to circumvent the whole "how do I get up from the table now?" conundrum, this spread actually was moved to the floor to yield the table to a masterful meal whipped up by Blake and Elin. Taster Matt and I could probably get away with saying we helped, but the help was mostly in the form of unintelligible supportive noises, i.e. "oooooooo!" "aaaaaaaa!" "whaaaaa?!" "butter!"