Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Post of 2013! The Delicious Alpha Tolman

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

I'm so excited to be wrapping up my day because I know that I have a few fantastic cheeses that I will be eating tonight! One of the cheeses that will most likely be gracing my cheese plate will be the Alpha Tolman, which I had the pleasure of tasting a couple of days ago. It is an absolutely amazing cheese... but I wouldn't expect anything else from the folks at the Cellars at Jasper Hill.


Cheese: Alpha Tolman
Producers: Jasper Hill Creamery
Location: Greensboro, VT
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)


The Alpha Tolman is an Alpine style cheese that is named after Mr. Alpha Tolman who was a dairy farmer in Greensboro, VT (where the creamery is located) who, among other philanthropic acts, built the town library in 1900.

The cheese itself is quite a treat. It is a washed rind cheese, but not super stinky like many of the same cheeses in that family. The natural rind that it develops is more brown and "dusty" as opposed to orange and sticky. By developing this type of rind, the cheese is able to develop an earthy, nutty and buttery flavor that is found in cheeses like Gruyere or Raclette. If you're a fan of these cheeses, you can use the Alpha Tolman in the same way that you would use those cheeses. Think fondue, or melt it over grilled pineapple, pickles or any other savory food of your choice.

I was thoroughly impressed with this cheese and I recommend it for any cheese plate regardless of the season. Most of the stores in the Northern California/Reno region should have this cheese in stock right now and would be a wonderful treat at any New Year's party.

On to 2014! I look forward to continuing to spread the cheese love next year. Thank you for reading and until next time, eat, drink and be happy!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Champagne Cheddar

Happy Holidays everyone!

Today I wanted to talk about a fun cheese that we have in specifically for this time of year. It's a cheese that was a HUGE hit last year and as a result we brought in a lot more for this season... the Champagne Cheddar from Somerdale.

Cheese: Champagne Cheddar
Producers: British cheesemakers associated with Somerdale UK
Location: England
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Vegetarian

This is a cheese that Whole Foods Market partnered with cheesemakers in the UK to create. They have taken a traditional farmhouse cheddar that has been aged for 10 months and then mill it again to break it up and add the Champagne. The addition of the Champagne gives a touch of acidity and a little bit of a citrus tang.

You can see in the picture above that the cheddar is slightly crumbly, but what you can't tell is that it is actually pretty soft for being aged at least 10 months. This is due to the addition of the liquid Champagne. The effervescence of the Champagne adds a whole other element to the texture in that it adds more gas and loosens up the curd. All in all it is a very interesting cheddar... unlike anything I've ever tasted before.

The Champagne cheddar is available exclusively at Whole Foods Market and we have plenty to get us through this holiday season! Make sure you swing by your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter and try a taste! It's an obvious addition to any of your holiday cheese plates! And as you can imagine, nothing pairs nicer with this cheese than some tasty Champagne :).

Happy Holidays to you all! Until next time, eat, drink and be merry!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Petit Vacherin Mont d'Or

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday and that you ate until you could eat no more! I had a wonderful time with my family and was able to spread some cheese love :). This is the cheese plate that I made on Black Friday... Starting from all the way on the left and working clockwise we have: Cantal, Humboldt Fog, Petit Basque, Brillat Savarin, Rogue River Blue, Dancing Fern and Rush Creek right smack in the middle. It was quite a treat!

Now on to an exciting cheese that has recently arrived in just a few stores... The Petit Vacherin Mont d'Or.

Cheese: Petit Vacherin Mont d'Or
Producer: Patrick and Charles Hauser
Location: Le Lieu (Northwestern Switzerland)
Milk: Thermalized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Many of my favorite cheeses emulate the Petit Vacherin Mont d'Or (think Rush Creek, Winnimere or Harbison) and while they come close and are absolutely delicious, the Petit Vacherin Mont d'Or is a cheese on its own. This cheese is only made during the fall and winter months when the cows switch from eating grass to eating hay. The milk used to make this cheese is the same milk that is made to make the classic Gruyeres we know and love.

As it is shipped from Switzerland, it comes in a little wooden box that helps it hold its shape. After carefully removing the box, I was greeted with the funky, grassy, barnyardy smell that is unique to washed rind cheeses. I slowly and carefully cut off the top of this cheese in order to enjoy it in the traditional fashion - dipping into it like a fondue.

I had never tasted this cheese before, so it was a really exciting moment for me. Upon first tasting the cheese, you get a hit of butter followed by grassy, sweet hay flavors. The aftertaste you are left with is earthy and slightly funky. It was divine! As it comes in 12oz rounds, I couldn't eat it all by myself and had a couple of friends enjoy it with me. They were pleasantly surprised at how the smell was pretty pungent but the flavor was mellow and creamy. I served a slightly more robust Pinot Noir with this cheese and the pairing went over fairly well. The wine did not overpower the flavor of the cheese and the particular Pinot I served had a little bit of a smokey flavor that paired wonderfully with the woodsy notes in the cheese.

This cheese is super limited and only available at certain Whole Foods Markets in this area. I bought mine from the Whole Foods in Cupertino. If you see this cheese, make sure you snatch it up! You won't be disappointed. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!