Big-city Christmas: Goat cheese and roasted garlic beehive

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Christkindlmarket in Chicago’s Daley Plaza left its mark—I smell like a mixture of cinnamon, apples, and sugar. Wikipedia estimates that 1,000,000 people visit this holiday market in December and I think every one of them was there today. I took the #29 bus from State & Grand, passing the House of Blues, the Marina Towers Condominiums, the Gene Siskel Film Center, and Harry Carry’s Italian Steakhouse.


A line of people, contained by yellow tape and black poles, snaked up and down the sidewalk in front of a small storefront. What could be the allure—free food, tickets to Hamilton, a chance to buy a Fingerling? Oh no, the prize was Bavarian Christmas ornaments, baubles, and tchotchkes. A big, gruff, man shuffling along behind me said, “There better be a large stein of beer at the end of this line.”



Michigan Avenue was even more crowded. Where do all these people come from and how did they get enough money to be laden with bags from Gucci, Tiffany, and Ferragamo? I walked into the Swarovski Store looking for a crystal bead to finish off my latest quilt. Black-tied waiters serving champagne to fancy people was my first clue that I had entered a parallel universe. A beautifully-dressed young woman looked puzzled when I asked where the bead department was. “We have beaded evening clutches,” she said brightly. 



On my way back to the hotel, I bought a $2.99 “hapless” Chicago Bears beanie baby at Osco and called it a day.

Saw this recipe from The Cheesemonger’s Kitchen. Looks too good not to try. Although it may be difficult to round up 15-20 people.


Goat Cheese and Roasted Garlic Beehive from The Cheesemonger’s Kitchen

Serves 15-20 people

  • 5 lb. whole garlic heads, unpeeled 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2.2 lb fresh goat cheese 
  • Honey, warmed, for drizzling 
  • Crostini, crackers or crusty bread, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread out the garlic on a baking sheet/tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake on the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes, or until deep, golden brown with burn spots here and there. Being careful not to burn your fingers, give the garlic heads a pinch. They should be very soft.

Let cool to room temperature and then cut each head in half hori­zontally with a serrated bread knife. Squeeze the roasted garlic pulp into a bowl, remov­ing any garlic peels that may fall into the bowl. Mix the gar­lic pulp with a whisk until smooth.

Line a 1-qt bowl with cheesecloth/muslin with plenty of overhang. Bring the goat cheese to room temperature.

Using clean and slightly damp hands, press a small amount of the cheese into the cloth-lined bowl. It should be a layer about 1-inch thick. This will be the top of the beehive. Add enough garlic puree to make a layer about 1-inch thick; repeat with the goat cheese, forming it into a disc 1-inch thick and of the same circumference of the mold. Continue with the alternating layers of goat cheese and garlic, ending with the cheese. Cover with the overhanging cheesecloth/muslin and refrigerate overnight.

An hour or so before serving, peel back the cheese­cloth/muslin. Place a cake stand upside down on the bowl and then invert the two together. Remove the bowl and peel off the cheesecloth/muslin to reveal the beehive. Any cracks in the goat cheese can be smoothed with a wet finger or spatula. Drizzle the beehive with honey to complete the theme and balance the aromatic garlic. Serve with crostini, crackers or plenty of crusty bread.

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