When the aroma of roasting turkey fills the house, stomachs grumble and everyone wants to squeeze into the kitchen and get in the way. That's why the savvy cook sets out an elaborate array of appetizers during the holidays as a crowd control measure. Cheese and fruit is a favorite at my house. If you eat dinner early in the day, it's a nice late supper too.

Spec's Deli
2410 Smith St.
(713) 526-8787
specsonline.com 

While Central Market has the best cheese department in town, Spec's Downtown store on Smith Street has a pretty serious selection too. And I always find myself shopping for wine, craft beers, half-gallon bottles of bourbon, and rare Cognacs in this store during the holiday season anyway. It's extremely convenient to swing through Spec's huge deli and grab the cheese, crackers, fruit, bread, and other snack tray essentials on the way to the check-out.

To really dress up your cheese board, try adding some baked Camembert this year. It's ridiculously easy. Just buy one of those fancy French Camemberts that comes in a round box of flimsy wood. Open it up, remove the wrapper and slice off the top white layer of the cheese. Put the cheese back in the wood box and drizzle it with olive oil. You can also stud it with garlic slivers and rosemary sprigs if you like. 

Bake it in the box on a cookie sheet in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is gooey. Serve with baguette rounds or French bread toast and encourage your guests to dip the bread into the cheese.

 

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