Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day Thirty - Eight: Seasonally Spring Part II

In the mood for ramps, fresh peas, asparagus, daffodils? Don't those just scream spring to you? They certainly do to me! Spring certainly brings people and produce out of their winter hibernation to enjoy the outdoors.

Thinking about what I was going to post today, I thought seeing as I was actually making my Spring green menu tonight for dinner for myself and a friend to celebrate Spring and St. Patty's Day tomorrow, I would do a follow up Spring post about three cheeses that are either specifically in season in Spring or to me signal that desire to romp around outdoors.

Each of our three cheeses today combines either herbs or some form of aromatics and creates a new language with the melding of those flavors and the innate either goat, cow, or sheep milk tastes. Here are today's three stars:

1. Purple Haze - Produced by Cypress Grove, the same California creamery that makes Humboldt Fog and Truffle Tremor, two cheeses we discussed earlier. The cheesemaker, as previously mentioned, was one of the women who made America fall in love with goat cheese and I am certainly glad that she was successful at this, because I love goat milk cheeses. In each and every one of her cheeses, you can taste and feel the love that went into its creation. Today's cheese is a fresh goat disk infused with fennel pollen and lavender. What makes this cheese great is that it still maintains the tang of a fresh goat cheese but the fennel pollen and lavender add a different dimension -- sweetness, herbyness, and in my mind, the flavors overall signal the beginning of Spring!
2. Fleur du Maquis - Travelling across the ocean to Corsica, we come upon the raw sheep's milk cheese, Fleur du Maquis. Maquis is the local Corsican name for the rough underbrush where thieves and robbers would hide. Being named after what you can only imagine is a rough and dense brush, this cheese is rubbed in rosemary, juniper berries, fennel seeds, and bird's eye chilis. The result is upon scent, a veritable herb garden of smells and tastes to go along with it; with a semi soft, almost creamy sheep's milk interior. Definitely a unique cheese and for anyone who likes herbs, this is a cheese for you.
3. St. Pat - Cowgirl Creamery's seasonal spring cheese, this cow's milk disk is wrapped in stinging nettle leaves and aged for three weeks. The result you ask? A soft and creamy cheese whose green coloring signals the beginning of Spring and leaves you with an almost artichokey taste in your mouth -- mellow, dynamic, and full of fresh flavors, a definite for Springtime.

I would pair these cheeses with a simple baguette from Balthazar so that you have a good base for the cheeses but also allow them to shine. These are unique cheeses that have a lot of flavor and you want that to be the focus of your Spring cheese selection. I would probably pair these with a nice Chenin Blanc, something light and springy!

Enjoy your evening ladies and gents.

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