As mentioned previously on “It’s Not You, it’s Brie,” cheese has a wide circle of friends. It’s a social animal. It likes to party. Circulating only amongst its own kind has no appeal to cheese; it knows that it is only as well-rounded and nuanced as those it keeps in its company and that discriminating against non milk-based products would ultimately make life less tasty.
And we all know that dairy likes to be tasty.
In order to show itself best in as many ways as possible, cheese opens its arms wide to everyone. Don’t matter where you’re from, who’s your daddy, what your name is, or if you’re sweet and sugary or pickled and rambunctious. Cheese will take a chance on you.
One of my latest favorite pairings?
Yuzu marmalade and Alpine style cheese. Now, I love the extra feisty, bright, slightly spicy and bitter taste of yuzu, a Japanese citrus that is nearly impossible to find in the U.S. when not in preserved or juiced form, but other marmalades will work too- especially bitter orange. This is good because yuzu marmalade aint super cheap. Great news- a little goes a long way. Or, if you can find yuzu fruit, here’s a recipe for the homemade stuff. Send me a sample.
The type of Alpine style cheeses we’re talking about are mainly large format, cow’s milk, washed rind, firm wheels. The originals are ones like Beaufort, Comté and Gruyere, and a few North American interpretations of them are Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Meadow Creek’s Mountainer, Mountina, and the smaller wheel, Blondie’s best.
Ever notice how some Alpine wheels have an almost tropical flavor to them- a bit of that pineapple bite that makes their finish on the tongue tangy, especially if it’s really aged? Both citrus and sugar love that. Citrus loves it because the Alpine tang highlights its own inner fiesty qualities. Sugar loves it because it gives it an opportunity to use its sweetness to caress something with a seductively sharp edge (and we all now how much sugar loves a good caress).
Next time you have a slice of a prized Alpine in front of you, pair it with a little sweet citrus action. Marmalade, candied peel, whatever. See what you think.
If you haven’t yet used yuzu or citrus with your cheese, what are some other things you like to pair with your Alpines?