Cheese, I thought I made bad puns...
Anyway (ouch), Lucy's Whey, an East Hampton favorite, recently opened a branch in Chelsea Market. It's a wee store, specializing in American artisanal cheeses. I did feel a bit too waited on, which is better than the reverse, I suppose, and the staff is certainly quite generous with both information and tastes. Chose Rogue Creamery's Smokey Blue, the first-ever smoked blue cheese. One would think that this would be a clash of flavor titans, but the light nutty smokiness seems to both temper and enliven the tang of the creamy blue. Also picked up a small bag of shelled black walnuts. I thought salad, which is really the only thing to eat when the windchill is -2.
Blue cheese and walnuts are a classic combo, but I was disappointed when I tasted the walnuts: they had an odd, funky flavor. I was expecting an uberwalnut, and was decidedly underwhelmed. Bruce suggested that I toast and then candy them. Never having candied anything but grapefruit peel before, I was good to go. I heated a little grapeseed oil in a pan over medium heat, and tossed in a handful of nuts. As soon as they started smelling toasty, I stirred in a couple of teaspoons of sugar and stirred some more. Holy nuts, they were actually candying! As soon as they started to color (and they will do this very quickly), I dumped them onto a paper plate.
I sliced up about half a jar of Rick's Picks Phat Beets. Used some of the jar's liquid--with a little chopped shallot and salt and pepper --for the dressing. Tossed in crumbled blue cheese and candied walnuts. Toss again so that the blue cheese turns violently pink. Serve with crusty bread.