Yes, I believe it stands for hugs and kisses. And…..while you probably all deserve hugs and kisses, I think the below pairing might be a good alternative. In fact, presenting this to someone might get you the prior.

Beemster X.O. is an extra aged Dutch cheese. There are hints of butterscotch and nuts to the flavor. Pair it with Spanish carmelized pecans. WOW… I promise you will like this combination!

Since the nuts are from Spain, I suggest serving with a Spanish red. A deeper bodied wine is ok since the cheese has a nice, rich flavor. We chose a Bodegas Ondarre Rioja Reserva 2004. With a blend of 75% tempranillo, 15% mazuelo, and 10% garnacha, this wine was an excellent choice. We actually picked up a touch of vanilla in everything when we tasted all 3 together.

It was so spectacular that we polished of the container of nuts and decided to call the “snack” our dinner!

Beemster X.O. & caramelized pecans.

Bodegas Ondarre Rioja Reserva 2004. Wine Spectator rating 91 points. #58, top 100 of 2010.

A Little Slice of Heaven

By heaven, I  mean Manchego…. a Spanish cheese made in the region of La Mancha. Not just the regular sheep milk Manchego cheese, the raw sheep milk variety. Yeah, it’s a dollar more a pound, but totally worth it.

By little slice, I mean you need to cut it thin. Slicing it thin seems to enhance the subtle nutty, buttery flavors.

Pair it with a Marcona almond, and it goes to a whole new level. The flavors blend extremely well together, and are even enhanced. Both being produced in Spain, that would seem to make sense. If you haven’t had a Marcona almond, it’s nothing like the common California variety. It’s softer, sweeter, and has a slightly buttery flavor as well. They are packaged with a little salt and olive oil.

A little salami, a few olives and a nice Spanish tempranillo and you truly have an exceptional experience!

Manchego, Marcona almonds, and a Columbus Salame Secchi.

The olives make a wonderful addition.

Montebuena 2009, a Rioja tempranillo. Excellent and less than $10.

All paired together it makes a very appealing presentation. Enjoy!