I can't think of the last time I bought commercial egg nog. The very thought of it was sort of gag-inducing for a long time. As a child I loved the stuff, but at some point my tastes changed, and the last grocery store nog I remember drinking was sickly sweet with a thick, gloopy texture that evoked a mixture of molasses and Elmer's glue.
In the intervening years, we've made our own nogs, including a recipe that involves separating the eggs and beating the whites to soft peaks, which are then integrated back into the custard. The resulting egg nog is light and fluffy, and somehow tricks you into believing that you're not drinking a dozen eggs and a pint of whipping cream. This year, I've taken on aged egg nog, which should be just good enough by Christmas Eve, though part of me is tempted to start next year's batch now.
But when Amy reached out with an invitiation, collaborating with Beth from Whole Foods Northern California, offering a tasting of different egg nogs, my curiosity was piqued. Surely there must be good egg nogs on the market, and I intended to find out.
So a few of us filtered in to Steep Brew, the cafe at Whole Foods Potrero Hill.
I figured it would be all, drop in, taste some nogs, and blow. Yeah, not so much. Beth had laid out an entire table with not just the nogs, but some other goods she wanted us to try. From the bakery, we had a chocolate turtle cake and an orange upside down cake, the latter of which was good by any metric, even though it had oranges all over it.
And there were cheeses, most notably a nice gouda with holiday spices (nutmeg and cumin prevailed) that immediately evoked egg noggy goodness, and a manchego paired with a curiously good cranberry nut cake.
And then Beth whisked away for a moment to retrieve the ham. Because, of course, you need ham to taste egg nog.
Positioned as we were smack in the middle of a very public space, seated around a table positively laden with cartons of egg nog, plates of nibbles, bottles of wine (yes, there was wine) and a big old ham, we of course got a lot of attention. One lady passed by our table no fewer than three times, ogling us with crazy eyes while dragging a granny cart behind her, before she stopped to say, "You've got a picture perfect party going on. But I guess you knew that. Ha ha ha ha. But it could be better, if you had rattlesnake handlers." Riiiight.
On to the nog!