Monday, August 30, 2010

Day Two Hundred and Two - Cumin Marriage Mondays

This past weekend, I was running in Central Park and I swear it smelled like Thanksgiving potpourri, what it was, I don't know but it got me thinking, gosh, I haven't done any spice Marriage Mondays, that could be fun! So for today's Marriage Mondays, I decided to feature the second most popular spice in the world, Cumin. For your edification purposes, pepper is the number one spice, in case you couldn't guess.

Cumin is the dried seed of a plant in the parsley family. It is found in a plethora of international cuisines from Indian to Cuban to Mexican to Middle Eastern to Spanish, this spice is used the world over. It is even utilized to produce a specific Dutch cheese known as Leyden. But folks, our Marriage Mondays here is about which cheese could be combined with cumin to make a successful dish, not about taking a cheese that already is made with cumin, it's about experimenting and trying new routes and learning about how distinct flavor profiles are capable of melding together.

So folks, before we get going here, close your eyes for a second and imagine the strong and savory flavors that characterize cumin. If you cannot recall them,  reach into your spice cabinet and taste cumin on its own, that is if you do have it in your cabinet.

Now that you've got that earthy, smoky, herbal flavor on your tongue, let's get going with this week's contestants:

Contestant Number #1 - Tarentaise : A firm aged cow's milk cheese made by Thistle Hill Farm in Vermont, this contestant is the American cousin to the Alpine style French cheese, Abondance. It is fabulously buttery while still staying true to its firm texture, with notes of nuttiness and grassiness. Each bite of this contestant is sure to delight the taste buds, full flavored and delish. It is a complex yet simple cheese, but will it have that perfect balance to be able to meet the demands of our dear Cumin?


Contestant Number # 2 - Salvatore Brooklyn's Ricotta : Barely old enough to be a cheese, this youngster is lactic, creamy, fresh, citrusy, with that perfect melt in your mouth quality. It is a testament to successful cheesemaking capabilities and fantastically fresh cow's milk. Truly a decadence, this ricotta will put your regular store bought Ricotta to shame. A true treat but will it be the right treat for the second most popular spice utilized world wide?

Contestant Number # 3 - Valencay : Named for a town in the Indre section of France with a breathtaking castle, this is a pyramid shaped goat cheese that is as beautiful on the tongue as the Chateau de Valencay is in person. Valencay's exterior is coated with ash and consequently aged for a few weeks. Lightly piquant and spicy with the lactic grassy tang of a good goat cheese, Valencay has a musty side to it. You can tell that this is a cheese that has been made with a great deal of care and love, however is there enough love there for it to be able to work with Cumin?

Chateau de Valencay

And its namesake cheese....

And those are this week's Marriage Monday's contestants, check back tomorrow for the winner and a delish and unusual recipe utilizing cumin.

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