Sunday, November 16, 2014

Parsley, Sage, - Romao -, and Thyme!

Hello everyone!

It is incredible how quickly Thanksgiving is approaching. A little over a week and we're already there!

As you can imagine, cheese has become a huge part of my holiday traditions and I am often bringing cheese boards to holiday parties. I have several go-to crowd pleaser cheeses that I use on my cheese boards, but I also like to throw in at least one seasonal or fun cheese. The Romao fills both roles for me. While it is available year round, I like to use it during the holidays because the rind is coated in lard and rosemary - and what fits in better with your holiday meal than fat and herbs?
Cheese: Romao
Producer: Estanislao at Castilla La Mancha
Location: Cuenca, Spain
Milk: Raw sheep's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

As stated above, the Romao is from Spain (Cuenca specifically) and is made of 100% raw sheep’s milk. It is hand rubbed with lard and coated with rosemary, then aged in caves for at least 8 months. The flavor of the inner paste is very similar to Manchego - rich, nutty and very flavorful. The rosemary definitely adds a fun element and while very aromatic, the rosemary flavor only penetrates the first ½ inch or so of the paste. All in all a very balanced cheese that does not have overly metallic or bitter flavors from the rosemary.

If you're looking for a yummy beer to have with the Romao, try the Saison DuPont from Belgium. It's a bright, herbal beer with a light effervescence - perfect to cut through the fat in the cheese and pair with the rosemary on the rind.

Like most of the cheeses I've mentioned this month, this cheese is on promotion at the Whole Foods Markets in Northern California and Reno with a sweet price break. Be sure to come in and grab a piece for yourself before it's gone! If you happen to be close to the Los Altos location, be sure to come by and ask for me and I'll give you a yummy sample!

I hope you all are having a great weekend and that you have a wonderful pre-Thanksgiving week. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fromage d'Affinois de Brebis

Hello everyone!
I hope you all had a great weekend. I had a WONDERFUL weekend as Lynn, my better half, proposed to me! I guess I should call her my fiancé now... I'm so excited! We were out of town for most of the weekend, so when we went shopping today, we had to grab a yummy cheese to celebrate. We decided on the Fromage d' Affinois de Brebis.

Cheese: Fromage d'Affinois be Brebis
Producer: Fromagerie Guilloteau
Location: Rhone-Alps region in France
Milk: Pasteurized sheep's milk
Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)

This cheese is a very approachable considering it is 100% sheep's milk. It is super creamy and buttery while still having a touch of the earthy, gamey, nutty flavors that are present in almost all sheep's milk cheeses. The cheese on its own is very simple, so I decided to step it up a notch...

I spread the Fromage d'Affinois de Brebis on the apple crisps from Simple & Crisp and drizzled some honey over the top. The creamy, nutty cheese with the crispy apple and flavorful honey made for a perfect pairing. The only thing I would possibly add in the future would be a nice, bubbly Prosecco to cut the richness of this delectable treat.

Even my good friends' one year old. Nolan, loved the treat! If you want to try this for yourself, be sure to stop by your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter (the Los Altos location if you'd like to visit me!) and ask for a sample. It's on sale in Northern California/Reno for the month of November, so it would be a great time to take some home for yourself. I hope you get a chance to try this yummy cheese!

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Meadow Creek Dairy's Grayson

Hello all,

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween last night. I had a lot of fun... my girlfriend and I dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Quite a riot!

One of the best things about being back in a store behind the cheese counter is that I get to try all of the delicious seasonal cheeses we receive. The other day we received a shipment of Grayson from Meadow Creek Dairy. I was in the right place at the right time because I was the lucky one who got to unwrap and cut this wonderful cheese.

Cheese: Grayson
Producer: The Feete family at Meadow Creek Dairy
Location: Galax, VA
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

As I unwrapped the Grayson, I was greeted with the funky smell typical of washed rind cheeses. The rind was slightly sticky, but not unbearably so. Cutting into the cheese revealed a beautifully smooth, straw colored paste that I couldn't wait to taste.

When I tasted the Grayson, it was like I was tasting the grass the Jersey cows had eaten. The Feetes only make this cheese when the cows are out on pasture when their diet consists of mainly fresh grass. By using raw milk, the flavors of the pasture really come through along with the slightly spicy, very rich flavors of the butterfat in the milk. The consistency is very smooth and relatively firm. It melted beautifully in my mouth and I couldn't help but take another bite.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, you're in luck! It's on promotion for the month of November and is available at most, if not all of the cheese counters in the Northern California/Reno region. You're more than welcome to stop by the cheese counter at the Los Altos location where I have relocated and chat cheese with me as well!

I hope you all had a wonderful first day of November and I look forward to the possibility of talking cheese at my new store with you all. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!