A Cream Cheese Love Affair

When you think of cream cheese, you think of the stark white, cold, creamy shmear you spread over the crispy face of a freshly toasted bagel. From blueberry to hazelnut, strawberry to chocolate chip, cream cheese has been reinvented over and over by bagel connoisseurs and bakeries alike. Regardless of your favorite flavor, cream cheese is usually thought to best be served cold.

Sampling finger foods at a friend’s birthday dinner at Bouré, little did I know that an unlikely love story was about to unfold. Fresh out of the oven, the waiter placed a piping hot dish of cream cheese baked casserole style, topped with a jalapeño and grilled peach chutney. With caramelized onions for added flavor, the average person might turn up their nose at such a combination. But for those with adventurous tastes, the chef’s marrying of such ingredients couldn’t be more genius. Formally titled the Roasted Jalapeño and Grilled Peach Chutney Dip, my first bite spawned the kind of addiction you only witness on bad reality TV shows about celebrities in rehab.

With most highs, the first one is the best but most fleeting, and every effort to recreate that is fueled by a desire that remains physically unquenchable. With this dish however, each bite is reminiscent of heavenly bliss, a taste you thought could never be better but that is with each chew.

Paired with warm, fresh pita bread that is seasoned with a kind of heavenly spice that is still unknown to me, the two combined were as perfect as peanut butter is to jelly. With salty undertones to give the bread that added flavor, each ingredient is as crucial

Like the old saying goes, opposites attract, and for this particular dish, that couldn’t be truer. At its foundation is cream cheese, born and bred in America in the late 1800s, and easy to understand at that: it’s a type of creamy, spreadable cheese. Chutney, on the other hand, is where the mystery of the dish lies. For those unaware of what chutney is or the magic it possesses, the Internet defines it as the spicy relishes and condiments popularly used in Indian cookery.

Whatever inspired the chef at Bouré to unite an American and Indian delicacy into one, delicious dish, in a restaurant that prides itself on Southern cuisine and hospitality, I will never question. I’m just thankful that he did.