Cafe Drake adores a good cheese plate after a stellar meal and has learned that many guests look forward to this intermediary course almost more than the main and starter themselves, so varied and experimental are our combinations. We're already dreaming up holiday offerings - special in themselves due to our annual absence from cost concerns - and wanted to share with Cafe Drake online visitors a couple of our favorite fromage accompaniments. Take the extra effort to adorn your cheese offerings with these (aged) dairy partners and be certain to sparkle throughout the Christmas/Hanukkah season.
Cafe Drake has served a version of this relish at Thanksgiving since we first basted a turkey; it remains a perennially popular classic.
In a saucepan fry 6 star anise pods and 2 cinnamon sticks in about 6 T. of good butter. Add 1 bag of cranberries and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Cook until the berries burst. Now add 2 T. sherry vinegar and 1 t. ONLY of Pernod, Pastis, Ouzo etc etc. Pull out the spices, take off the heat and add the zest of half a lemon or lime (or mix thereof). Cool completely.
SUNFLOWER SEED BRITTLE
This must be served with an extra-sharp cheese, such as an Irish or Canadian or Gloucester cheddar, or alternatively, a local hard-curd white cheese.
Cook 1 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup each of water and light corn syrup until a candy thermometer registers about 320 degrees or so. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 T. butter and 1 t. kosher salt and 1/2 t. baking soda. Now stir in 2 cups of roasted sunflower seeds (shelled of course - duh). Spread it all on a baking sheet lined with oiled wax paper. Cool then break into reasonable pieces.