Contestant Number # 1: Tarentaise - Actually our least successful contestant today, this fantastic cheese does not have the correct consistency or repertoire of tastes to support the dynamism of cumin's flavor profile. If you have had Leyden, the Dutch cheese that utilizes cumin within its paste, you could say that both Leyden and Tarentaise are buttery cheeses, but that is where their similarities stop. The barnyardy, grassy, farm-y, flavor nuances of the tarentaise miss the boat with our dear cumin here, a little bit like oil and water. However, since Tarentaise is so high in butterfat (at 45%), it is a perfect melting cheese, and when melted on a nice crispy baguette you could sprinkle a little bit of cumin for a little added spice sparkle to a simple grilled cheese sandwich. Here, with the cheese heated, cumin will work as the icing on the cake, not as the star of the show.
Contestant Number # 3: Valencay - Although a truly fantastic cheese, I somewhat tricked you all here. If I had said fresh and not aged Valencay, then cumin could have worked perfectly. Why you may ask? Well, that is because you could dust the Valencay with a little bit of cumin and let it then age, developing the cumin's flavors as the cheese in turn ages to its ideal depth, somewhat like Capriole Farm's Piper's Pyramid, but instead of utilizing the paprika that Piper's is dusted with, you would utilize cumin. However once the cheese is aged and its tastes have formed, adding cumin will just overpower the delicate nuances of the cheese. But should come across a fresh Valencay and dust it in cumin and let it age for a few weeks, even in your fridge, I think you will find that the cheese and the cumin will work in an particular and unusual harmony but with a surprising success.
Piper's Pyramid -- see you could substitute the Paprika for Cumin
Contestant Number # 2: Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta - Therefore, we can see that Salvatore Brooklyn's Ricotta is triumphant this week. Why you may ask? This is a pairing where opposites attract -- the spicy, herbal, piquant cumin with a toasty, even nutty finish will find solace in the creamy, light, fresh, and lactic notes of the Ricotta bringing to the surface unique nuances in each. So how would I pair these two in a recipe? Well my first idea was to make a Middle Eastern style dip, simple, delish, and perfect for snacking on with some sliced up cucumbers and some grilled whole wheat pita bread.
8 oz Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon of cumin (or as much as you see fit)
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Drizzle of Lemon juice for a nice acidic kick
Chopped up parsley
Salt and Black pepper seasoned to taste
Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and whip with a spoon till it is creamy and perfectly combined. What you will get is a mutli-dimensional dip full of highs and lows in the flavor department, I guarantee that this is a dip that will satisfy those who don't like Middle Eastern flavors and those who do...A little bit of this dip on grilled pita bread will be just the perfect thing to cut the 95 degree heat outside. Enjoy!