Fun story behind this recipe:
A wonderful, holiday time recipe from my friend Chris O'Dowd, who owns the Cantering Caterer in Westport, CT.
2 1/2 cups walnut halves
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Ruby Port
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 lb Stilton cheese wedge
Preheat oven to 500°F. Spread walnuts on rimmed baking sheet and toast for eight minutes or until lightly browned.
In a large saucepan, combine sugar, port, pepper and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, three to four minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Add walnuts to saucepan stirring to coat them. Using a slotted spoon, drain the nuts very well. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread nuts out in a single layer.
Bake for 12 minutes, stirring once, or until the nuts are mostly dry; let cool. Separate nuts that stick together.
Simmer the syrup over low heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon; about three minutes.
Set Stilton Cheese on serving platter and place walnuts in a separate bowl. Drizzle the port syrup over the cheese and serve with the nuts. Guests cut small chunks of the Stilton Cheese and dip into the port syrup.