Cheese to the New Year! (and Better Resolutions)

Happy New Year – or should I say “Bonne année”! Hopefully you’ve all recovered from the holidays and are rested up for 2017.

The new year is often a time when we make resolutions, and for many people, these are often related to food or exercise. However, they are not always helpful or fun. For one thing, they’re often not specific enough (“I’m going on a diet starting on January 1st!”) or are framed in a negative light (“No junk food for me – ever!”), leading us to give up on our resolutions only a few weeks into the new year. So, last year my partner and I decided that from now on, we were only going to make positive new year’s resolutions.

Given that we are living in France, last year’s resolution was to try more types of French cheese! The sticky note(s) on our fridge list 18 new types of cheese we tried (on top of Normandy’s famous camembert), so I’d say we did fairly well (unless you take into account the fact that there are 350-450 unique types of cheese in France, in which case we failed miserably!). And although I’ll admit that most of the types we sampled were within the first 6 months of 2016, this wasn’t a bad thing, because we found new favourites that we continued to enjoy throughout the year.

Three of our favourite cheeses so far (pictured from left to right) are: Comté (a hard, cow’s milk cheese from Franche-Comté), Ossau Iraty (a medium-soft sheep’s milk cheese from Aquitaine), and Brebis Corse (a soft, sheep’s milk cheese from Corsica; the type we buy at our local farmer’s market is extra delicious, because it’s coated in dried herbs).

We finished the year off with a trip to Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna, and I was surprised to discover how much cheese featured into their dishes (although of course, Wiener schnitzel was always the first thing on the menu!). We sampled several types of Hungarian cheese at the breakfast buffet in Budapest, including a really yummy smoked one. I had bryndzové halušky (sheep’s milk cheese gnocchi with bacon) in Bratislava, and my partner had spinatnockerl mit speck, zwiebeln & käsesauce (spinach dumplings with bacon, onion and blue cheese sauce) in Vienna (pictured from left to right, below). 

I can’t say these dishes were light—in fact, I had to order a side salad or starter that included vegetables whenever possible, because veggies are quite hard to come by in Hungarian/Slovak/Austrian cuisine. However, we tried some fantastic dishes and ended the year on a positive note by extending our repertoire to include international cheese!

Unsurprisingly, after all that Wiener schnitzel, cheese, and bacon, we wanted something a bit lighter, and started our first week home with this delicious crab, mango, and avocado salad, which makes a great weeknight dinner.

Our resolution for 2017 is to try at least one new fruit or vegetable each month – and preferably something that’s in season. We started trying to make this a habit near the end of 2016 (see previous post in which we tried out kaki fruit and potimarron, which were plentiful at our local market in the fall). Winter will definitely be the trickiest month, but I’m confident we’ll find something. If we can’t, I plan to try to incorporate a fruit or vegetable that isn’t necessarily new to us, but that we aren’t in the habit of buying (for example, I’ve only ever purchased canned artichoke hearts, so I could try cooking one myself). Of course, I can’t wait for spring and summer, when a huge variety of fruits and veggies will be in season.

What are your new year’s resolutions? If you’re making any around food or nutrition, what do they involve? Feel free to share in the comments! I challenge you to make them positive and exciting, so that you’ll have fun achieving them. :) 

Cheers to the new year—and to cheese!!