Monday, February 25, 2013

Snofrisk - Fun to Say, Great to Eat!

Hello loyal readers,

I apologize for the lack of posts of the last few days. The last few days have been pretty crazy. Today, I want to talk about a cheese that was reintroduced to me this month and in my opinion is completely underrated. That cheese is the Snofrisk.

Cheese: Snofrisk
Producer: Tine SA
Region: Norway
Milk: Pasteurized goat's milk
Rennet: Microbial (Vegetarian)

The Snofrisk is a Gouda style cheese and while it is 100% goat's milk, the goaty tang that is present in a lot of goat cheeses in missing. Instead, you get a creamy, nutty flavor that would be agreeable to almost everybody. I also really enjoy the consistency - it is a cheese that just melts in your mouth. It is semi-hard, but very pliable. I would use this as a melting cheese for sure.

Pictured above is my kitty Zoey who snuck in while I was taking pictures. She liked the cheese as much as I did, if not more!

The Snofrisk also comes in another version...

The version to the right is a fresh spreadable cheese. It is 80% goat's milk and 20% cow's cream. So if you're allergic to cow's milk, I would avoid the fresh version. But for everyone else, this spreadable cheese is a fantastic substitute for cream cheese or creme fraiche. It is very creamy with a little bit of the goat bite and a touch of acidity. I made myself a little meal out of it by getting some water crackers, spreading on the Snofrisk and topping it with a bit of roasted red pepper pesto. So yummy!!

My other cat Lily was jealous of Zoey for getting some cheese, so she came by and had a taste of the spreadable Snofrisk...

She also enjoyed this delicious cheese. :) The picture is a little blurry because she was licking my finger when I took the picture.

So apparently this post turned into a little bit of a cat themed post, but hey, I gotta switch it up sometimes right? I hope to see you all at my cheese counter soon! Until then, eat, drink and be happy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Guest Blog on Culture!

This winter I was lucky enough to be one of five bloggers chosen to be a guest blogger on the Culture blog... To see what I wrote, click here:

If you don't want to go to another website, you can read what I wrote about the Culture Winter Cheese Plate below...

I decided to take the purist approach when highlighting this winter cheese plate. There is nothing like finding a truly delicious pairing and seeing my guest’s eyes light up when they experience the “tasty explosion” that occurs.
Behold, the cheese plate…

We started off with the Comte.

Most of my guests had never had this amazing cheese before. They were pleased with the rich buttery taste and texture as well as the nutty and floral notes. There was some fun discussion on the tyrosine crystals that added the slight crunch to the paste. For the pairing I decided to stick with the French theme and chose a Vouvray. The high acidity yet slight sweetness of the Chenin Blanc grapes partnered with the creaminess of the cheese to create a flavor reminiscent of butter and honey. On a whim, I added a Zingerman Spiced Pecan to the mix and it blew my mind…

Next, the Great Lakes Cheshire.

While I had only ever had the English Cheshire, I was very pleased with this domestic version. The tatse is comparable to a bandage wrapped cheddar with its slightly salty yet earthy and grassy flavor with a “zing” at the end. My guests and I had fun talking about this “zing”. For the pairing, this cheese just begged for a beer. I chose to use the Rayon Vert from Green Flash Brewing, a Belgian-Style Pale Ale. This beer has a touch of sour from the Brettanomyces, is drier and super carbonated with a nice floral nose. The beer, when tasted with the cheese, mellowed out the bite at the end and really highlighted the richness of the milk used to make the cheese. This ended up being a couple of my guest’s favorite pairing of the night, including my sister who ended up polishing off the beer and the cheese J.

And to finish off the plate, the Bayley Hazen from Jasper Hill Farm – a personal favorite.

This cheese is phenomenal. It doesn’t have the intensity of a lot of the blue cheeses out in the market today. The mold lends a small bite but really takes a back seat to the other flavors in the paste. When I tasted it this time around I got a lot of butter, hazelnut and hints of salt. It is a little on the dry side, so when thinking about what to pair with it, my mind wandered to the sweeter libations. I have to give credit to my coworker and partner in crime, Jeannie, for helping me with this pairing. I was thinking about using a Moscato and she recommended the Saracco Moscato d’Asti and wow did she hit the ball out of the park. This wine was wonderfully sweet while not being syrupy and really balanced out the slight bite the mold gave the cheese. And because it was a “d’Asti” it had a little bit of effervescence which cut through the rich butter flavor of the paste. Out of all of the pairings, this was my favorite. Even my non-blue cheese loving guests appreciated this pairing. The flavor with the cheese and wine combined made me feel like I was enjoying a piece of salted caramel. Delicious!

Above you can see that no cheese was left behind in this tasting. Everyone really enjoyed the cheeses and pairings and I had to promise to hold another cheese tasting party in the near future. I hope that you all have the opportunity to enjoy delicious artisan cheeses with your friends and family in the near future.
Until then…

                                                                                                                   …my friends and I say “Salud”!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Manny's Maniacal Jarlsberg Grilled Cheese

Today I was thinking about recipes to make with cheese and I realized that I haven't done any posts about grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese. I decided to fix that. I had a talk with my fantastic, amazing cheese buyer Manny and he told me about a grilled cheese sandwich that he really likes to make. The ingredients are simple:

- Jarlsberg reserve
- Roasted red tomatoes
- 2 slices of bread
- A little bit of mayonnaise

It is the comfort of grilled cheese and tomato soup all wrapped up into one... just heavenly. Here's some information about the cheese:

Cheese: Jarlsberg Reserve
Producer: Tine SA
Region: Norway
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

It is a Norweigan take on swiss cheese and is a very popular cheese at my counter. The reserve version that I am using has been aged for 12 months to give it a more intense flavor. If you're looking for a sharper swiss style cheese, this is the one for you!

As for the recipe, it is super simple. Set your oven or toaster oven to broil and let it get warmed up. On a cookie sheet (or piece of foil) lay out two pieces of bread and spread some mayo on them. Then, take the roasted tomatoes and put them on the bread like so:

Then slice the cheese... I like thick slices on these open face style grilled cheeses, but if you want it to melt quickly, you can shred it or cut it thinly. Now pop these bad boys in the oven! If you've used thicker slices of cheese, you'll keep them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. If you've thinly sliced or shredded the cheese, go 5-7 minutes. In any case, make sure you keep an eye on it. Every oven is different and I don't want your tasty sandwiches to burn!

And behold, the finished product. It's super simple and tasty. I make these for a quick lunch or an appetizer at a party (I just cut them into smaller pieces). The lovely acidity of the roasted tomatoes helps to cut the richness of the ooey gooey melted Jarlsberg. Now through in a nice beer and you're good to go!

I hope this recipe turns out well for everyone who tries it! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Schmoozing with Scimudin

One of the new cheeses we got at our counter this month is the Scimudin. This cheese is a bloomy rind cheese that sort of resembles a brie. It is not as gooey on the inside as most bries, but still has a wonderful creamy, lactic flavor. I would even propose to all brie-haters that this cheese might be right up their alley...

Cheese: Scimudin
Producer: Luigi Guffanti
Region: Lombardia, Italy
Milk: Pasteurized Cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)
Scimudin gets its name from a Valtellina (the local dialect) word meaning "little cheese". This cheese is rather unique in that while it does have a rind, it does not add too much flavor besides a slight touch of mushroom. The rind seems to be there more as a texture component (as well as protecting the cheese as all rinds do). The cheese itself is super creamy and milky with an almost sponge like paste. As it ages it will get a little more a bit more of the mushroom flavor and the paste will soften up a bit.

For me, I would lean toward using this cheese in place of brie in certain recipes. For instance, if you're making a sandwich that calls for brie, I would use the Scimudin instead since it has such a beautiful creaminess, yet is a little on the firm side. This would also be a nice cheese to top with your favorite jam or chutney.

Come on by the counter and ask for a sample of this tasty, versatile cheese. You won't be disappointed.

I have a couple of exciting things coming up in the next couple of weeks to share with you all, so stay tuned! Until then, eat, drink and be happy!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Seduced by St Marcellin

Another fun treat for your Valentine's Day is the St Marcellin. Because of its consistency and its ability to become a finger food, I find this cheese particularly seductive. Read on if you care to learn more...

Cheese: St Marcellin
Producers: 12 different creameries in Rhone Alps of France
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The St Marcellin is only 3 ounces but there is a lot of flavor packed into it. In fact, it is so delicate that it must be kept in small terracotta pots in order to hold its shape.

When I dipped into the St Marcellin with a cracker, this is how the consistency was - simply divine. It is so gooey and lush I couldn't stop eating it! It's almost like dipping into a fondue, yet the cheese is room temperature and stays that runny. When you remove the plastic from the outside, you can start to smell the hints of barnyard and mushroom. But just like other more fragrant cheeses, when you taste it, it is a luscious, creamy, grassy sensation. When the weather warms up, I'm planning on taking this cheese and a nice bottle of Syrah with me for a picnic. But no matter the weather or the season this cheese should find its way to your next cheese plate or cheesy date! And if you're like me, this is the result...

So with that, I bid you all adieu. I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day full of tasty, seductive cheese! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Valentine's Day Treat - Cazelle de St. Affrique

If you want to impress your honey with a tasty cheese other than brie this Valentine's Day, this is the cheese to use! The Cazelle de St. Affrique is a wonderful bloomy rind sheep's milk cheese that while similar in texture to the brie style cheeses you may be used to it has a complexity and depth of flavor that you could not imagine coming from a little 3oz piece of cheese...

Cheese: Cazelle de St. Affrique
Producer: Herve Mons
Location: Aveyron, France
Milk: Pasteurized sheep's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The name is actually pretty interesting. Cazelle is actually a word to describe a small stone structure used to house hay or even shepherds and sheep themselves. These structures were abundant in the area in times past. St. Affrique is the area where the cheese is made.

The Cazelle is produced by one of my favorite cheese affineurs - Herve Mons. What Herve Mons has done is build a business by taking very young cheeses from small cheesemakers in the region around Aveyron and aging them to perfection. In the case of the Cazelle, he takes the cheese when it is around 10 days old and makes sure that the cheese ripens to where it needs to be. Affinage is a very subtle yet dynamic art. So many things go into aging and developing flavors of cheese, be it molds or bacteria, making sure the cheese is flipped and/or washed or maintaining proper temperature and humidity. Herve Mons takes what the cheesemakers provide him and helps to create a unique, superior finished product. Any cheeses that I have at my counter that have "Herve Mons" on the label are bound to be phenomenal, just like the Cazelle. If you want more information on Herve Mons and what he does as an affineur and his relationship with Whole Foods Market, you can watch a short video about it here:

Because this cheese is so small, it ripens rather quickly. It has a biting, slightly pungent flavor, but then develops into a beautiful creamy, almost hay like flavor. The sheep's milk really sings in this cheese because it is so dense in solids. If you were to make a cheese like this with either cow or goat's milk, it would be no where near as dense in flavor as this little guy is. The rind does add a touch of bitterness, but nothing that takes away from the wonderful flavor of the cheese. 

This cheese is relatively versatile, I can think of using it in several scenarios... If I were going to be serving this cheese to my Valentine, I would be sure to have some strawberries or some of the Amarena cherries in heavy syrup that we sell at our cheese counter and a nice, sweet sparkling wine. For other occasions, I would maybe drizzle a little honey on it, add some Marcona Almonds and a nice Pinot Grigio. 

These little gems are not something we carry year round, so be sure to stop by and grab one for yourself before they are gone! And with them on sale for only $7.99 a piece, there are sure to go fast. Don't miss out!

I hope to see you all at the cheese counter soon.. until then, eat, drink and be happy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Peppery Pevrin

Happy Superbowl Sunday everyone! Today's cheese caught my eye because of the colors... very close to the 49ers colors I thought. :) Today's cheese is the Pevrin from Caseificio La Bottera.

Cheese: Pevrin
Producer: Caseificio La Bottera
Location: Italy
Milk: Pasteurized cow, sheep and goat's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

This three milk cheese is about the size of a large scallop. It is covered in pink, green and black peppercorns.

The cheese itself is a very mild cheese. You taste mostly the lactic creaminess from the cow's milk with a touch of nutty earthiness from the sheep's milk and a hint of the goaty tang. If you've never had a mixed milk cheese before, this might be a good cheese for you to start with. The paste is slightly chalky yet very spreadable. I think it is a good thing that the cheese is so mild because you really get to experience the yummy bite of the different peppers!

Because of the spiciness of the peppers, I would pair this cheese with a beer - perfect for the Superbowl! Be sure to include a cheese spreader and some tasty crackers and you have yourself a tasty (and themed!) cheese for the game. 

Have fun today and GOOOOOOO NINERS!!!!!!! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!