Monthly Archives: October 2009

Links du Fromage

Alexandra Cook's Tomato, Corn and Cheese Galette

Alexandra Cooks's Tomato, Corn and Cheese Galette

Because the world of cheese is wide and vast and I can’t possibly meet all your dairy needs, here are some of my favorite Links du Fromage this month. Feel free to leave links to your own favorites in this post’s comment section.

Alexandra Cooks: Tomato, Corn and Cheese Gallette

Pictured Above.

Bellewether Recipe Contest

Creme-fraiche, you, and a gift certificate to Bellwether Farms. It’s not cheese, but you can buy some with the winnings. May the force be with you.

Zen Chef’s Acorn Sqaush Pizza with bacon, Shallot Confit, Taleggio, Agrula and Aged Balsamic.

Sassy Radish’s Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

La Clarine Sierra Mountain Tomme

Sierra Mountain Tomme

Sierra Mountain Tomme

La Clarine winery, farm, and cheese company first wins you over with its sweet husband and wife, small-production, all-natural approach story. Then, after a taste of their Sierra Mountain Tomme, the glory of the cheese itself hits and you consider calling to see if they need an intern.

Earthy, tangy and vibrant, La Clarine’s Tomme speaks to the virtues of biodynamics, living in the mountains, and raw-milk. A semi-hard cheese with a grey mold-dusted exterior, this goat’s milk number exhibits a complexity that is entirely its own. Slightly salty and blessed with flavors of fruity green olives, grass, herbs and pepper, this cheese flips on its head the idea that goat cheese is sour, funky, and tastes like it came from a barnyard.

Instead, La Clarine’s Tomme tastes like it came from a goat’s heaven, full of fuzzy kids prancing about day and mother’s grazing on whatever their little herbal and thistle-inspired hearts desire. Except tin cans.

Side Nibbles

Pair with something nutty and slightly sweet, like the Spanish fig cake pictured above, Medjool dates, or crispy apples. Alternatively, grate over a bowl of pasta cooked al-dente, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.

Wine

Try a slice of La Clarine with a bright, light, and high-acidity red wine that will highlight the fresh, grassy flavors in the cheese, like Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly Gamay or the Domaine de Collette Regnie Beaujoulais.

When Cheddar Visited Oktoberfest

lincolnshirepacher copy

If you catch me in a corner with a wine glass and a slice of cheese, there’s no telling what’s in store. Better just walk away. But when I have a pint in one hand, and a wedge the other, it’s almost certain the cheese is going to be Cheddar. And if you bring me another Belgian farmhouse ale, I just might share.

Salty, earthy, sweet, and meaty, Cheddar fulfills the duties requisite of a robust beer cheese. And, If you don’t count that grocery store brand version that was brighter orange than the last Cheeto in the bottom of the bag, I’ve never had one that can’t make a good beer happy.

In honor of beer and Cheddar, I give you a couple photos of an Oktoberbest celebration. You can thank me later for not posting pictures of the guest pretending to be a German tourist who carried beer in his backpack, wore tiny jogging shorts-underwear and rubbed himself against young women. Instead, I give you Lincolnshire Poacher, a finer than fine alternative.

And thank you Amanda and company for the homemade brats, sauerkraut, slow-roasted Niman Ranch pork leg, cabbage & bacon, and applesauce cake. And chocolate cake and gingersnaps. And potato salad.

Oh, Banon: You Had me at Bourbon

IO'Banon2 copy

There’s something special about a cheese that comes in its own packaging ready-made for the grill.

Wrapped with chestnut leaves soaked in Woodford Reserve Bourbon, O’Banon is an easy party pleaser, a grilling wonder, and an example of the deliciousness that Indiana has to offer the dairy-loving world.

A cheese named in honor of the French version that inspired its creation, O’Banon is six-ounce disc of fresh goat’s milk cheese made by the Capriole Goat Cheese Company. When young, it has a fresh and slightly tangy taste paired with a sweetness imparted by the spicy, vanilla flavors in the bourbon. As it ages, the bourbon’s flavors further marinate the cheese and it develops a stronger, spicier, earthier, richer taste that strongly differentiates it from the original version that’s soaked in eu de vie.

The complexity of this fresh, seemingly simple cheese is no surprise to those who are familiar with Capriole. Situated in the hills of southern Indiana, the company was launched by a family who, after hearing the call of the pasture in the late seventies, moved from the suburbs to the farm. Focusing entirely on goats milk cheese, Capriole keeps a sustainably run farm, promotes the virtues of raw milk cheese, recently won a first place award in the American Cheese Society Competition for their bourbon beauty, and consistenly rocks the fromage world with anything that comes out of their dairy caves.

Keep your eye on Indiana. I foresee this region acquiring just as much attention for its cheese in the future as Texas, or in other words, as much press as Lady Gaga gets for walking around city streets without pants.

Serving, Storing, and Eating O’Banon

Storing: I take this cheese out of its plastic wrapping as soon as it hits my kitchen and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. Unless the cheese is not consumed in its entirety, there’s no need to wrap it. Its leaves act as a natural wrapper.

Serving & Eating: O’Banon appreciates a little warmth in its life. Take it out of fridge half an hour before serving and let come to room temperature. Because of its strong bourbon flavors, keep it simple with food pairings. Accompany it with  sliced, crisp apples, fresh fig or pear.

Or you can blow your guests out of the water by warming the cheese.

Tossing O’Banon on the grill or in the oven is as pleasing to goat cheese lovers as baked brie is to those who like it buttery. Place O’Banon, still wrapped in its leaves, on a cooler portion of the grill or in an oven heated to 375 degrees for five to ten minutes, or until the center of the cheese is very soft to the touch and leaves are hot and toasty. Then, set on a plate and slice open to reveal a tender, warm, and tangy center. Serve with crostini or fresh, crusty bread and fruit.

Wine

The bourbon in O’Banon conflicts with very complex wines. Stick with wines that are straight-to-the-point, like Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire Valley, mineral Fiano D’Avellinos from Campania Italy, or high-acidity sparklings from around the globe.

Lastly, check out the recipes on the Capriole website! Goat Cheese Gougeres w/Katie’s BBq Chicken Salad anyone? Or how about Cheese Enchiladas with Corn And Mole Sauce?

Coming soon: pistachio cream accouterment & ricotta gnocchi recipe.