Friday, March 27, 2015

São Jorge DOP

Good day fellow cheese people!

Today I've decided to talk about a Portuguese DOP status cheese, the São Jorge. Almost two years ago to the day, I wrote about the St. George from Matos Cheese Factory which is a local version of the São Jorge. You can flashback to my old blogpost on the St. George here:

I find it a very fun coincidence that I am now writing about the original, which is an outstanding cheese deserving of emulation. And here we go!

Cheese: São Jorge
Region: São Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

As its name implies, the cheese is made on the island of São Jorge in Portugal. The climate and soil on this island are ideal for dairying (the island has over 20,000 cows!), so the long tradition of cheesemaking makes total sense. The cows are milked twice a day and a right after each milking, cheesemaking commences. The evening milk is delivered around 8:30pm and the cheesemaking starts then and lasts until about 4am. That's dedication!

This cheese really embodies the characteristics of raw milk. You get the tangy, piquant acidity which is classic in raw milk cheeses, but you also get a wonderful creamy finish. If you're a fan of the "sharp" in sharp cheddar, you will adore this cheese. I find the paste to be quite fun as well. There are tiny eyes sprinkled all throughout leaving a cheese that reminds me of the surface of the moon!

Try this cheese with a nice crisp pilsner, or even a funky sour. But beware when trying this with a sour - depending on which one you choose, you may have a wonderful pairing or a "ouch" pairing with similar competing flavors. These are the types of experimental pairings that I like to try out on my own as I find some very unexpected gems in the mix.

We have this cheese on sale at my cheese counter and all other Northern California/Reno Whole Foods Market stores for just a few more days. Be sure to stop by your local store and try some out! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bellwether Farms San Andreas

Hello everyone!

Recently I've heard a lot of talk about earthquakes and when the next "big one" will hit. Thinking about earthquakes made me think of the San Andreas Fault, which led me to think about the cheese named after this active fault, the San Andreas from Bellwether Farms.

Cheese: San Andreas
Producer: Bellwether Farms
Location: Petaluma, CA
Milk: Raw sheep's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Bellwether Farms is a local creamery located in Petaluma, CA. They have been aging sheep's milk cheeses since 1992. Since then, they have branched out to cow's milk cheeses - like the Carmody and Crescenza - as well. They focus primarily on Italian style cheeses, but also make some decadent sheep's milk yogurt and other fresh products. I've honestly never met a Bellwether Farms product I didn't like.

The San Andreas is a Bellwether Farms evolution of the Pecorino Toscano. It's a touch drier, but has a wonderful creamy, nutty, and mellow flavor. You can tell after tasting this cheese that the cheesemakers at Bellwether Farms take great pride in the quality of their milk. The cheese is very straightforward with no "frills". The raw milk and natural rind really allow the flavor of this cheese to sing.

While tasting the San Andreas today, I was pleasantly surprised by the long finish. I found myself tasting the cheese long after I had swallowed my first bite. I would pair this cheese with a nice fruity Pinot Noir or Merlot. I would also consider using this cheese to kick my macaroni and cheese up a notch. 

If you'd like to swing by the cheese counter at the Whole Foods Market in Los Altos tomorrow, we not only have this magnificent cheese, but we also have all wines $14.99 and up on sale for 20% off! If you buy six or more bottles, you get a whopping 30% off!!! I'm personally buying at least six cases of wine for my wedding... so don't miss out! 

I hope to see many of you tomorrow! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Camembert di Bufala

Hello everyone!

I can't believe that it is already almost halfway into March! How time flies when we're having fun...

Today I wanted to talk about a cheese that is slightly out of the ordinary... the Camembert di Bufala from Italy!

Cheese: Camembert di Bufala
Producer(s): La Casera
Location: Lombardy, Italy
Milk: Pasteurized buffalo's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Upon unwrapping this cheese, I was very pleased with how beautiful the white, fluffy rind was. There were very few flaws and it looked closer to what I associate to be a Brie rind rather than a Camembert. Being led by the name "Camembert" I was expecting this particular cheese to have a bit more funk to its smell, but in actuality, the smell was rather earthy, sweet and pleasant. Just by pressing the rind a little bit, I could tell that there was an ooey gooey delicious cheese just waiting for me to enjoy.

As evidenced by the pictures above, I was right! The paste inside was the exact consistency I was expecting... runny, unctuous and creamy. The flavor though, due to the buffalo milk, was a bit different. I have had buffalo milk cheeses before and expected a touch of gamey-ness, but due to my myriad experiences with other bloomy rind cheeses, I was expecting a lot more of a buttery flavor. Instead, you get a very clean, grassy and, for lack of a better word, gamey flavor.

I oddly enough paired this cheese with some Fire Roasted Jalapeno pita chips, and it was amazing! They were a touch spicy for the cheese, but the cheese (after coming to room temperature) had enough oomph to stand up for itself.

If you are interested in trying something a little different than your normal Brie or Camembert, stop by your local Whole Foods Market in Northern California or Reno and pick up some of the Camembert di Bufala. You'll be taken on a cheese journey of which 99% of you have not ventured.

Have a great rest of your week! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!