Coast Cooking

COAST COOKING: Pick up some prepared treats

Continuing the theme of how stressful the holidays can be, let's look at options for having friends over for lunch.

I can see you freaking out at the very idea -- who has time to make lunch for friends during this busy time of the year? Well, relax. There are some good options that are easy and not terribly expensive.

Most grocery stores have pretty good delis these days, and they are stocked with imported and domestic cheeses and all sorts of charcuterie.

Make a second stop at a local bakery that makes bread from scratch every day, and you are home free.

Last time I wrote on this topic, I included a list of Italian delicacies from which to choose, so let's look at what the French might have to offer today.

-- Brie and Camembert are similar cheeses, both soft cow's milk cheese, but from different regions. Once they become runny, they are over the top, so be wary.

-- Comte is an unpasteurized cow's milk cheese that is relatively firm and a bit sweet and is aged 12 to 18 months. It is a strong cheese, but delicious.

-- Munster is a cheese from Alsace (not to be confused with the German and American varieties)

-- Roquefort is a sheep's milk blue cheese that many think is the best of the blues. Strong, but delicious. The French make a lot of charcuterie, but we are more likely to find pâté  and its cousins than sausages and cured meats. Try these two.

--  Pâté  de Campagne is a course  pork pâté that some consider to be in the country style. Do not expect the smooth, creamy texture you might be used to in a pâté 

-- Mousse Truffee is a chicken liver mousse that is smooth, spreadable and loaded with black truffles.

Add to this mix some good mustard, gherkin pickles, red grapes, crusty French bread and a bottle of good wine from Burgundy.

Shop for this list at your local grocery, Whole Foods in New Orleans, Martians Wine Cellar in New Orleans or Fresh Market in Mobile.