Friday, March 6, 2009

The Tale of One Cheese with Two Names


Y Fenni is a variety of Welsh cheese, consisting of pasteurized cows' milk cheddar cheese blended with whole grain mustard seed and ale. It takes its name from the Welsh language name of Abergavenny, a market town in Monmouthshire, south east Wales. Y Fenni, when coated in red wax, is also known as 'Red Dragon', a name derived from the dragon on the Flag of Wales.


This cheese combines the subtle sharpness and depth of natural mustard with the mild, piquant taste notes of the Welsh ale and traditional Cheddar. It is a buttery and spicy cheese with plenty of bite, but is not too hot. Not only do the mustard seeds give its marvelous flavor, but also its texture. The brown ale makes the cheese moist and tangy.

Either cheese is often enjoyed as part of a ploughman's lunch. Its consistency makes it excellent when melted, and it can be served on toast or even on a steak

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weisslacker


Weisslacker or Beer cheese is a type of cheese that originated in Germany, but is now known worldwide. Also produced in America, mostly in Wisconsin, it is a pungent and salted cheese. It ripens for seven months in highly humid conditions and is related to Limburger cheese. Connoisseurs of this delicacy often take it with beer (sometimes dipping the cheese directly in their drinks), hence the name. Many find it too overpowering to serve with wine. This cheese is also served on small slices of rye or pumpernickel bread often with some sliced onion. It is a common item on pub and restaurant menus in the Czech Republic, the country with the highest per-capita beer consumption in the world. Weisslacker is also known as bierkäse, bierkaese, beer kaese and beer cheese. In addition, Weisslacker is a common ingredient in various breads, soups, and dips.

The smell of Weisslacker gives you the impression that it's almost alive and you want to beat it back with a stick. But that's before you taste it. The crumbly smear-ripened pasteurized cow's milk cheese is unlike anything we've ever tasted and as it breaks in your mouth, you'll realize that you already need another bite of this curious cheese. As for the Bavarians of Germany, they like to grate this cheese over spaetzle and enjoy hot odiferous noodles. The origin of the cheese comes from desperation actually. In 1874 during the French-Prussian war, there was a need to make cheeses that could age longer and have a better "shelf life". Thus Bavaria's Backsteiner recipe was adjusted and lo and behold Weisslacker was born.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Paneer

Paneer is the most common Persian and South Asian cheese. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice or other food acid.

Most varieties of paneer are simply pressed into a cube and then sliced or chopped, although the eastern Indian variety is beaten or kneaded like mozzarella, and crumbles more easily than the North Indian variant of paneer. Paneer is one of the few types of cheese indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, and is widely used in Indian cuisine and even some Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cuisine. Unlike most cheeses in the world, the making of paneer does not involve rennet as the coagulation agent. Paneer is completely vegetarian making it a great source of protein for vegetarians.

To prepare paneer, food acid (usually lemon juice, vinegar, or yogurt) is added to hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are then drained in a muslin cloth or cheesecloth and excess water is pressed out. The resulting paneer is dipped in chilled water for 2-3 hours to give it a good texture and appearance.

From this point, the preparation of paneer diverges based on its use. For a harder cheese, the paneer, wrapped in cloth, is put under a heavy weight, such as a stone slab, for 2-3 hours, and is then cut into cubes for use in curries. Pressing for a shorter time (approximately 20 minutes), results in a softer, fluffier cheese.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Menuet- the cheese not the dance


Menuet is reminiscent of small batch, farmhouse cheeses found in the countryside of Normandy. Its texture is deliciously creamy with a great balance of grass and herb undertones. The long, lingering finish is sure to please. Menuet is completely handmade and seasonally available. The name comes from a French dance of the baroque period that was described as a dance of many small steps, not unlike the many small steps in the making of this cheese. Pair with Pinot Grigio or if you prefer red, try a Merlot or Zin.

This cheese is made at the end of a Vermont country lane, the farm sits with a few red barns and a small white house. It's centered in the middle of 243 acres of organic pasture and hay fields. With views of the Green Mountains to the East and the Adirondacks to the West, this is home to a herd of blissful bovines. This is home to Dancing Cow Farms.

The farm is a pasture-based dairy with seasonal milk production and cows outside. They use no pesticides, herbicides or petroleum based fertilizers on their fields. They make their own hay, milk their own cows and spread the manure as rich, dark compost. The cows graze on sweet clover, dandelion, trefoil and a variety of grasses from May thru November. During the grazing season the cows spend their days and nights outside, on pasture, and occasionally take a break on hot and humid summers days in the cool shade of the barn.

The cows are mostly Jerseys and Guernseys, with a bit of Shorthorn, Normandy, Holstein and Dutch Belt in the mix. They calve in the spring, provide sweet creamy milk through November then take a break over the winter. Dancing Cow milks them once-a-day, in the morning, so the cows are less stressed and can spend more time on pasture. The calves are hand-fed fresh milk and lavished with attention.

The cheese is hand crafted, seven days a week, from fresh un-cooled milk that flows directly from the cows in the milking parlor into the cheese vat. This age old, classic European technique allows Dancing Cow to capture the freshest flavors of the current pasture. They hand salt then age the cheese in a temperature and humidty controlled ripening room. During it's time in the "cave" the cheese is washed, brushed and turned to nurture its development. After sixty days or more it emerges from the "cave" when its creamy texture and depth of flavor are at their peak.

This cheese is priced at $21.50/lbs and can be bought thru our website shop.lafayettecheese.com.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Persillé du Malzieu

Murray's Cheese shop describes our cheese of the week as "Spice is the variety of life, which is why we hunger for this rare, powerfully spicy blue. Produced just beyond the legally protected limits of Roquefort, this cheese is made of Lacaune sheep milk, like it's more famous neighbor, but captures a far greater flavor spectrum. Texturally, Malzieu sits heavy on the tongue, only to dissolve into a milky skim within seconds. The threat of excess salt, razing sharpness, and intense moldiness is present but always at bay. Beautifully balanced with rich, fatty milk, mushroom, and a long sweetness that should be complemented by a rich, oily dessert wine such as Sauternes or tawny Port."

This cheese is Roquefort gone wild that spends 3 months in the caves of Peyrelade, in Malzieuville, France where the atmosphere inside the caves help to produce an unctuous paste, ethereal bouquet, salty edge and wild mushroom flavor but this cheese's flavor profile also offers something very sweet and creamy not quite as salty that registers like Gorgonzola Dolce. It has a very outdoorsy flavor

and as a added note "Persille" means "parsleyed" and is a common term for French blue cheeses (referring to both the color of the mold and the veined appearance.

Priced at around $24.99/lbs.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Beemster X-O


I love the flavor of this week's cheese because "the butterscotch permeates the palate, followed by alternating waves of whiskey and pecan." I am sorry if I am waxing euphoric over this cheese but it is extremely good for being such an old cheese.

From the Beemster.us website:

Beemster X-O- is matured for 26 months making it Beemster's oldest cheese. As a cheese matures the flavors one tastes in the cheese expands. As this process happens moisture also exits the cheese, thus leaving the cheese tasting crumbly and granular in one's mouth. Because of Beemster's unique milk, X-O- is able to obtain one of the widest flavor ranges possible in only 26 months and still retains its smooth and creamy taste.

Beemster X-O- is wonderful with port wines, as well as sweet whites, such as a Riesling. X-O- can also be grated and used as a wonderful alternative to Parmesan for pastas.

Beemster cows graze only on pesticide-free pastures which are located 20ft below sea level in North Holland. The rare blue sea clay of these pastures contains special minerals that give the milk a sweeter and softer milk fat. Hence Beemster cheeses have softer and creamier texture than other Dutch cheeses.

Every week I get emails asking me where the cheese of the week can be found. Finally I can reveal that you can purchase the cheese online thru La Fromagerie D'Acadiana shopping website at shop.lafayettecheese.com

Monday, January 12, 2009

Heublumenkase


Ok so I know what you are thinking. Heublumen? That’s German for Hayflower isn’t it? Why yes it is but add the little word Kase (German for cheese) to the end of it and you get something revolutionary.

Herbs and Flowers Cheese or Kuh Heublumenkase in German, is a seductive blend of fragrant dried flowers, herbs, and pure organic Bavarian cows milk. Besides coming from high quality milk, this German cheese takes on extra character through the selection of organic flowers, including safflower, blue mallow, peony and marigold, mingled with rosemary, oregano and a dash of unrefined rock salt. The cheese makers coat the cheese with herbs and flowers and then seal it with transparent wax. Throughout the cheese’s 6-month ripening period, the combined essences seep into the cheeses paste, rendering an innovative semi-hard cheese bursting with aroma. The creamy cow’s milk balances perfectly with the herb and flower flavors.

So as you wait for spring to hurry up and get here because it's too bloomin' cold, have a taste of a fresh flowering meadow.

I encourage you to ask for this cheese from your local cheese monger and pair it with a Pinot Grigio.