Cheese should be it’s own food group
I’m not exactly sure when my love affair with cheese began, but it is a passionate one. Cheese first revealed its enticing flavors, textures, and versatility to me as a kid. I can still remember my dad bringing home fresh cheese curds and smoked string cheese from a local store. And a summer wouldn’t be complete without the deep-fried cheese curds from the Minnesota State Fair. From the moment I first tasted those melted, crispy-on-the-outside-stringy-oozy-on-the- inside little devils (a unique and lauded Minnesota/Wisconsin delicacy) I was a devoted fan. In fact, I even ordered them at a pub over the weekend in Kohler, and introduced one of my friends from the east coast to this tasty treat!
It was maybe in high school or college, after visits to France and Italy, when I experienced the full range of cheeses available to dairy-lovers the world over. Since then, I’ve been on a one-woman mission to try cheeses at every restaurant, local cheese shop, and foreign city I’ve visited.
If you love cheese as I do, or if you’re just looking for ideas you could serve to guests, here are a few favorites to try, along with some suggested accompaniments.
- Robiola Due Latte – soft-ripened Italian cheese, made of milk from cows and sheep (hence the name). It comes in a square with a soft rind. Love how its oozy and creamy (be sure to serve at room temp, will not be the same right out of the fridge) and is great straight on a cracker or crostini, served with champagne or sparkling wine. The flavor is so buttery and mild, it’s a crowd-pleaser, and far more interesting than brie.
- Humboldt Fog – another great soft cheese, but this one is made of goat milk, which gives it a nice tangy and earthy flavor. The cheese is gorgeous (see right) with an edible ash vein in the middle and a thin layer of it under the rind. The texture inside is similar to a chevre, and the outer layer surrounding is more creamy. I like it with a slightly acidic fruits, like apples and oranges and with marcona almonds, candied or roasted walnuts, and a crisp wine like a Sauvignon Blanc.
- Beecher’s Flagship – I remember first tasting this cheese at the shop in Pike Place market in Seattle. This semi-hard aged cheddar is now widely distributed and is great for making homemade mac ‘n cheese! Also amazing way to up the ante on a grilled cheese, turkey panini, etc. A little crumbly, a little nutty, a lot yummy. Also great with fruits, honey, a beer or a glass of Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Where to find these and so many other awesome cheeses: http://www.artisanalcheese.com/cheese/ http://www.murrayscheese.com/
Locally- Surdyk’s, Whole Foods, France 44 Cheese & Wine Shop, Kowalski’s