Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 415: How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatches 7 & 8

As we are playing catchup from skipping last week's How to Save / How to Splurge dispatch, today I will give you one of each:

How to Save:

Looking for an affordable and American version of the Spanish classic -- Manchego? Sole Gran Queso clocks in at $5.00 cheaper a pound than the Spanish version and it is just as fantastically fabulous in its own ways. A pasteurized cow's milk cheese, not the traditional sheep's milk utilized in Manchego, this cheese surely is very closely inspired by its Spanish roots, but is definitely it's own cheese. The Roth Kase team behind this Wisconsin creation works very hard to achieve a similar look to its Spanish cousin -- imprinting the classic basket weave on the exterior even. You may be wondering, what makes the exterior rind reddish? It is actually a light cinnamon rinse that imparts a sweetly aromatic finish. Even though the milk utilized for this cheese is different from the original cheese inspiration, Sole Gran Queso succeeds at imparting that the classic olive oil-y, nutty, buttery notes of a good Manchego but with its own unique grassy twist.

Sometimes, not often, it's worth looking towards European inspired cheeses made here for more affordable deals.

How to Splurge:

Interested in getting an obscure, small production, beer washed firm cheese hailing from Switzerland clocking in at $46.00 a pound found only at one cheese purveyor in New York for a special treat? Then you should go to Artisanal cheese to get Beermat or otherwise known as Aarauer Bierdeckel but I find Beermat much easier to remember and of course pronounce! A cow's milk cheese aged for at least six months, this reddish round cheese is washed with wheat beer imparting not only a hoppy toasty flavor but also quite the interesting scent profile. Don't get scared off but the smells though, this is a fabulously decadent cheese -- semi soft and milky, gooey, pungent, biting in that way quality artisanal washed rind cheeses are. This surely isn't for the faint of heart but boy does it delight! When you splurge on this stinker, grab a nice bottle of Alsacian white to go with it and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 414 : Comings and Goings in NYC

As I mentioned having hit the ground running this week, I sure have crammed a lot into the past few days. So let's recap:

Last night I went to Housing Works "A Taste of Home" chef tasting and benefit which was hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli, the executive chef of Butter restaurant and The Darby here in Manhattan. There were also tastings from Brad Farmerie, the executive chef of Public, The Monday Room, Double Crown, and Madam Geneva; Colleen Grapes, the pastry chef of Red Cat and the Harrison; Luis Nieto, the executive chef of the Palm Tribeca; Tessa Liebman, the executive chef of the Works catering; guacamole courtesy of Dos Caminos; cheeses and crackers and more.

I just wanted to highlight the homemade ricotta made by the Alex Guarnaschelli team for their mini round flatbread ricotta pizzas with sauteed mushrooms and a sprinkling of chives and greens. The ricotta was bright, lactic, tangy, and fresh, with a round mouth feel. You could tell that this was homemade ricotta done right. With the rustic earthy qualities of the mushrooms, this creamy heaven was the perfect counterpart to the crunch of the flatbread and the herbaceousness of the chives and greens on top.

Another point from last night's Taste of Home -- their cheese plates. I was much less impressed with their selections here. Hunks of Jarlsberg, Manchego, Morbier, and aged Goat Gouda were plopped down on two different platters. As soon as people started cutting into the cheese hunks, it simply looked like someone attacked the cheeses, nothing appealing about it. When catering to a large crowd, I don't think big hunks of cheese are the way to go. I recommend utilizing large rounds of cheese so that it is a neater more aesthetically pleasing selection.

Otherwise, the Taste of Home event was a lively fun evening and for a good cause.

Today, I went to Kevin Lasko's seasonally rotating restaurant concept, Park Avenue Spring. As the seasons change, the decor and the menu changes to fit the current time of year. Spring is a fabulous time to come -- bright, floral, lively decor is paired with a fish and greens forward menu. Although my Salmon tartar with oven roasted tomatoes and basil didn't have cheese, the pastry chef, Richard Leach, baked some fabulous cheesy breads -- a sourdough roll with Parmesan, thyme, and rosemary; a Jarlsberg red pepper cornbread loaf and a quinoa, bulgar, lentil spiced flatbread. Such inventive combinations of flavor profiles packed into bread format! Gets me inspired for my own baking and culinary experimentation!

Stay tuned for some fabulously fun spring-y recipes later this week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 413 : SCS Version 2.0, Dispatch # 3 - Leaf Wrapped Cheeses

Ever noticed a cheese wrapped up in a leaf like a nice little present protected by natural wrapping paper? Why the leaf? Over time, cheesemakers have utilized leaves of different sorts to protect and lengthen the life of the cheese, kind of like nature's version of cheese or wax paper, and of course to infuse the cheese with unique and different flavors. Today I thought I would introduce you to two leaf wrapped cheeses, one from California and one from Spain.

Kiku hails from Goat's Leap Farm in Napa Valley, more specifically St. Helena, California. In the early 1970s, the Backus family traded the hussle and bussle of Los Angeles life for the slower country pace and in the early 1990s began producing and experimenting with goat's milk cheeses. Now in 2011, their cheeses are well respected and well known nationwide. So what is Kiku? A 4 ounce cylinder of goat's milk cheese wrapped in a fig leaf that has been bathed in Sauvignon Blanc aged for at least three weeks. This cheese is only available when the fig trees are in bloom meaning the summer months. Tropical, citrusy, and fruity from the Sauvignon Blanc bath with a rustic vegetal bent from the fig leaf and a crisp, milky, grassy lactic interior. A multi-dimensional delight on the tongue and the senses from one of the country's best winemaking regions. So what to drink with it? How about a nice medium bodied, fruit forward Viognier?

Image courtesy of

And what of its Spanish counterpart? How about the Sycamore leaf wrapped blue cheese Valdeon hailing from the Castille Leon region of Spain. A six pound mixed goat and cow's milk cheese aged for at least three months in its sycamore leaf covering. It's got the full round mouth feel of a great cow's milk blue with the light, citrusy, grassy, fanciful notes of a goat's milk blue. Less biting, spicing and piquant than its infamous cousin, Cabrales. The sycamore leaf imparts a smoky herbaceous and vegetal quality to the larger than life creamy yet lactic and light blue. I'd suggest a dessert wine as its beverage companion.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 412 : Back Stateside and at Hearth

I'm back in NYC where it was colder this morning when I went running than it was in Iceland, that doesn't seem right does it? Even though I was only gone for four days, I certainly feel refreshed! And of course, hit the ground running.

Tonight, I had my monthly dinner with a lovely group of women at Marco Canora's Hearth in the East Village. Opened in 2003, this restaurant has consistently received fabulous reviews. A focus on fresh ingredients with an Italian twist, classic dishes reinvented. A warm and inviting dining room and a great place to catch up. So what did we all have?

We started with three of their appetizers:

1. Lettuces and Vegetables - a lovely rustic melange of Kabocha Squash, Cauliflower, Pumpkin Seeds, parsnip, with a savory sweet maple sherry vinaigrette. Hard to split so everyone got a taste of every vegetable but still very delish, crisp and fresh.

2. Arugula and Fennel Salad that was mixed with white anchovies, bread crumbs, and pickled cipollini onions. An aromatic presence dominated with herbaceous anise notes from the fresh fennel and the fishy salty qualities of the anchovies and bread crumbs. Not for everyone,  but definitely for me.

3. Octopus braised with red wine served with sauteed potatoes, black olives, fresh parsley, and a lemon aioli. The octopus were charred just right, the potatoes were a little soft to stand up to the octopus, but still a great classic combination done differently -- packed with a flavor punch but designed to delight the amateur or advanced octopus lover. Definitely my favorite and I believe the table's favorite of the appetizers.

Entrees and Sides, 2 of each:

1. Roasted Chatham Cod with sauteed black cabbage, smoked chickpeas, garlic confit, and baccala. This
cod melted in your mouth, sensuous and luscious yet briny and dynamic. We needed to try some of Canora's fish preparations and this sure didn't disappoint.

2. Buckwheat gemelli with savoy cabbage, hen of the woods mushrooms, sage, and fontina cheese. This earthy rustic warming dish seemed so simple but blew us all out of the water -- it sure had the gusto to impress five tough female critics. Why? Well it had the full package -- fully seasoned pasta that was light and airy, fresh herbs that took that plain pasta to the next level, a nice boost of vegetables to carry the dish away on a magic carpet ride and the fontina cheese "cherry on top." Overall, most of our favorite dish of the evening and the only dish that incorporated cheese.


1. Sauteed greens -- broccoli rabe sauteed with EVOO, hard to go wrong here!

2. Homemade potato puree served in a mini copper pot was the cutest perfect small package.

Overall, a satisfying meal in a fun yet quiet and lowkey environment where the company and the food were the stars of the evening.

403 East 12th Street

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 411 : Final Day in Iceland

Gosh it feels like our long weekend getaway just flew by – only yesterday were we getting on the plane from JFK to the unknown island nation of Iceland, what to expect, we were unsure. But boy did it wow and dazzle our senses – such an unusual and magical landscape, a capital city that felt like a small town, you ran into people that you’d seen the day before at a café or restaurant or bar or on a sightseeing trip and that was somewhat par for the course.  

Last night after some deliberations and discussions, we decided to change up our plans and settled on a restaurant on the main drag, with a bunch of bars, shops, restos, and more. The resto we chose offered authentic Icelandic food so that my friend could try a national specialty – whale. Was I going to have whale? Unfortunately folks, that’s a negative. I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of eating whale. But I did have my final dish of smoked salmon called “Salmon Rose,” it was a mixture of gravlax and smoked and cured salmons served atop a mixed green salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers and the classic dark rye toast with a dill mustard dressing.  It was fresh, vegetal, aromatic, crisp, light yet filling and all around fabulous.  The sort of simple salad combination that in the few days I was in Iceland, I learned was a classic offering at any decent restaurant. Some restaurants would have better salmon and more inventive pairings but across the board, I knew I could order this on any Icelandic menu and be satisfied. But where was the cheese? Right, isn’t this a blog about cheese?

The cheese was in the form of a classic Icelandic appetizer to share – cheese bread. Toasted and grilled rye bread with a light brushing of garlic oil and then a nice topping of Icelandic aged Gouda baked in the oven till the cheese was golden brown. There wasn’t too much cheese on the bread so that you couldn’t taste the nuances of the crusty bread and aromatics of the garlic and herbs. It was the perfect balance of all of the simple elements rolled into satisfying appetizer. Super exciting, it wasn’t, but reliable and delish, it was. 

And that wraps up our final meal in Iceland – two classic dishes found on a majority of menus around Reykjavik. What was the icing on top of the cake? How about a taste of one of the national drinks – Brennevin or Black Death? An Icelandic schnapps with hints of cumin and licorice – not too strong but with a unique flavor profile on the backdrop of an alcohol drink.

But let’s not stop there….

Today we went to the Blue Lagoon – the stunningly bright blue hot springs pools with natural healing qualities located between Reykjavik and Keflavik Airport. Upon approach, it feels as though you are driving up to some nuclear plant plopped down in the middle of the stark Icelandic landscape.  There are no words to describe the experience of bathing in the Blue Lagoon – breath taking, completely surreal, out of this world come to mind. All of your troubles melt away and you truly feel like you are as far away from home as one can imagine. With that folks, stay tuned for some pictures of my trip over the next few days.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 410 : Day Three in the Land of Fire and Ice - Exploration

So folks, I regret to inform you today's post won´t include any new cheese experiences, yes there was some of the Icelandic Gouda and the un-pronouncable blue cheese but it sure was an exciting Friday night / Saturday day.

Last night, after much deliberation, we settled on a restaurant located under a bridge in downtown Reykjavik called Fish Company, a new Nordic restaurant with international influences. Each offering on the appetizer and entree menus detailed the inspirational country the dish was based around.  The cavernous dining room was packed full when we walked in close to 9pm -- a good sign!

The meal started with an amuse bouche of arctic char and salmon tartar with sour cream apple foam and radish and a homemade crumble. Supple, sensuous, savory, flavorful, fresh and all around fantastic. We could tell the meal promised to be delish from the get go. Next up we split one of their appetizers - Burnt Tuna with teriyaki and tuna sashimi, Langoustine Salad and watermelon snow, chili puree, seaweed and crispy lotus root. What was the country of inspiration for this dish? China. The tuna melted in your mouth and the delicate vegetal qualities of the seaweed and lotus root with that added kick of the chili puree was a perfect beginning.  After close to an hour of waiting, we received our mains. I had their ode to cauliflower which was baked cauliflower and pinenut couscous, cauliflower cream and pickled pearl onion with dill mayo and cauliflower foam. Country of influence? Finland! Rustic, earthy, dynamic, warming, and unbelievably inventive, this vegetable centric dish was out of this world. This was the sort of food I was looking to have in Iceland -- food that took risks, was outside of the box and unusual.

So that brings me to today...we ventured out of the capital city on a tour of the country side everyone informed us we had to do -- the Golden Circle tour. We visited a small waterfall and then the large and imposing waterfall known as Gullfoss or the Golden Waterfall and then Geysir and lastly Thingvellir (þingvellir). At Geysir, we got to see a field of hot springs and erupting geysirs that date back for centuries, truly a magical experience. And at Thingvellir, a national park and shrine to Icelandic nationalism and independence, we got to see one of two places in the world where you can see the visible drift between the two continental plates -- the North American and the Eurasian plates which exists on the backdrop of Iceland's largest national lake, þingvallavatn. Where is the other opportunity to see a continental drift? Eastern Africa!

A truly awe inspiring day of natural beauty and glimpses into the raw and unique Icelandic landscape.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 409: Day Two in the Land of Fire and Ice

So what did we do today?

Well we checked off a lot of the worthwhile museums in Reykjavik -- the National Gallery of Iceland, the National Photography Museum, the National Museum of Iceland, the Nordic House, and many more. On top of which we walked across town to see the "Recycled House," a house completely made out of things that were reused and Fru Lauga (a gourmet food shop).

What have I noticed about Reykjavik?

The architecture looks like a more depressing version of 1960s Cold War buildings, except for a few rare exceptions. There are tons of parking lots -- for a city that wants to cut down on its carbon footprint, its quite bizarre. As of yet, we have not seen a McDonald's or a Starbucks -- how refreshing! In terms of food, this has definitely been the vacation of smoked salmon, smoked salmon for appetizers, lunches, dinners...yes the national delicacies are: rotted shark, whale, lamb, puffin, reindeer, to name a few, but I have yet to adventure down that road.

Apart from the smoked salmon, I did discover the most amazing blue cheese at Fru Lauga from Akurnes in the southern portion of the island called Bredi saudablaostur. Don´t ask me what that means, I have no idea but boy was it out of this world. A sheep's milk cheese inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti and lightly aged. Intense yet creamy, raw and biting, with that classic blue cheese pungency, this was a cheese that showcased the out of this world Icelandic terroir. Would one ever find this cheese anywhere else unless one travelled to Akurnes? Probably not and boy was I glad to have the opportunity to try it.

An amazing action packed second day in Reykjavik that´s for sure! Stay tuned for tomorrow's post -- a Golden Circle tour is on the agenda followed by a fun Reykjavik hotspot for dinner.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 408 : Arrival in the Land of Fire & Ice

Please excuse this week's break from our "How to Save / How to Splurge" routine, for next week we will have one of each cheese to make up for lost time. But for the next few days, your cheese musings will be coming straight to you from the Northern most capital worldwide, Reykjavik or smoky bay.

Arriving this morning at dawn it was hard to judge whether we landing on water or on land that in that early morning glow resembled the ebbs and flows of lightly wavy water. We were landing sure enough on land after a flight that was shorter than the trip from NYC to LA. Stepping off the plane and out onto Icelandic soil, one really feels as though they are at the end of the world, in a completely surreal climate due to it's location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. What does this location cause you might be wondering? Well first off, in the past two centuries, over thirty volcanoes have erupted causing the soil and ground to be a blackish color due to the amount of volcanic ash. In stark contrast to the black land, there is a decent amount of snow on the ground with plenty of mountain tops in the distance covered in snow.

After the 50 km drive from the airport to the city of Reykjavik, we arrive at our hotel tucked away on a side street off of one of the main drags. Dropped our bags off and went in search of breakfast. I ended up ordering the Icelandic thicker version of yogurt, called skyr served with museli. Thick, dense creamy yogurt that tasted fresh, crisp and completely unique in comparison to the American yogurts one finds in the grocery stores in New York.

After a morning of walking around town, getting our bearings and exploring we happened into a small food produce shop with what looked like a decent cheese selection, so I inquired what cheeses were made here in Iceland. I found out the ones this little shop had available were a variety of goudas and some bloomy rind cheeses like Brie and Camembert. We tried a few and settled on the Icelandic black wax Gouda -- nothing overly complex but a true honest melt in your mouth grassy full bodied Gouda with a nice zap to it. You could tell this was not a cheese with anything extra added in, it was an example of the raw icelandic terroir. We got it with some of their homemade thin crisp bead with flax seeds, dried cranberries and nuts, the perfect nutty, fruity compliment to our cheese.

That's all for now folks but stayed tuned for lots more adventures from the land of fire and ice.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 407 : Of Dominos and Comfort Foods.

Do you ever have those days where one thing goes wrong and then suddenly another thing goes wrong and another and another, all completely out of your control? Total domino effect? What do you need when you have a day like this? On top of the domino effect of issues, the unseasonable snow leaves something to be desired, right? You need something comforting, to warm you inside and out.

If you have followed my musings over the past months, you will know that my favorite comfort food is egg whites with cheese and maybe some veggies as well. Yes I know maybe its not yours but for me a flavorful rustic egg white scramble will wash away all of today's problems and put a big smile on my face.

What goes into today's scramble?

Egg whites
Hen of the woods mushrooms
1/2 shallot
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Danish Blue

For today's egg white scramble I thought we would use the mild yet flavorful Danish Blue / danablu as our cheese. Invented in 1927 as alternative to Roquefort, it is sold the world over and is quite the cheese success. Nowadays if you taste this pasteurized blue next to a hunk of Roquefort there would be very little similarity. Danablu is creamy with a round mouth feel and slight moments of piquant spiciness but overall a full bodied sharp and salty cheese. Apart from your blue cheese in this egg white scramble, you need some sauteed hen of the woods mushrooms with aged balsamic, EVOO, shallots, and chives to add that earthy funky punch to the simple backdrop of egg whites. What else? How about the green vegetal punch of some wilted arugula on top? The perfect mixture of simplicity and complexity -- a loaded flavor profile designed to delight.

Gosh I already feel better imagining the egg white scramble now maybe with a nice glass of red wine.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post direct from Reyjkavik!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day Four Hundred and Six : SCS Version 2.0, Dispatch # 2

As it's officially Springtime now and goat's milk cheeses are at their prime in the Spring, even though not this early in the season, I thought we would prepare ourselves with this week's focus on unusually shaped goat cheeses from California and Spain.

Did you know that the Bermuda Triangle is not only an area of the Atlantic Ocean where many aircrafts and ships have vanished but also a cheese? It is actually a fabulous soft ripened goat's milk cheese from Cypress Grove in Arcata, California. Mary Keehn began raising Alpine Goats in the 1970s. As her goats gained success in the appropriate circles and her reputation started growing, she began experimenting with cheesemaking and as they say, the rest is history. Bermuda Triangle shaped in a long triangle is made with pasteurized goat's milk and actually has two rinds -- a vegetable ashen rind and then a surface bloomy rind. Unique, dynamic, distinct and an excellent example of California goat cheeses done right! Earthy, funky, mushroomy, with a fluffy citrusy crisp grassiness -- a true example of the local terroir. You cannot go wrong with this Bermuda Triangle, I guarantee it will be a crowd pleaser!

Goat's leg or Patacabra is our Spanish goat's milk cheese today hailing from the Aragon region of Spain. Shaped like kind of a flattened log or a brick-ish shape with rounded corners, this washed rind pasteurized goat's milk cheese has that classic rusty washed rind exterior with a semi- firm ivory interior aged for between forty five and sixty days. Farmy, barnyardy, musty notes on the nose are paired with a crisp clean lemony milky flavor profile with a nice pungent kick as a finish.

Image courtesy of

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day Four Hundred and Five : Lunch at Marea

This rainy March Monday, my mother and I had our monthly mother-daughter meal, sometimes a lunch/sometimes a dinner, it depends. Today we went to Marea, Michael White's Italian seafood restaurant located on Central Park South just east of Columbus Circle. A simple elegant dining room with touches of the sea -- silver glazed shells and the such, it was decently crowded for a 12:15 lunch on a Monday but not overly crowded that you felt like you were in a sea of business men in suits.

Although they have a prix fixe lunch of two courses, chosen from either their crudi and antipasti options and then their pasta and fish and meat sections, we opted to split four of their antipasti for a lighter meal.

We started with their insalata - a white balsamic beautifully dressed fluffy and light mixed green salad tossed with french breakfast radishes and other seasonal vegetables. This was a salad about the fresh crispness of the vegetables and the lettuces and giving them the opportunity to shine! Next up we had their Pulpo -- grilled octopus, smoked fingerlings and purple Peruvian potatoes, pickled red onion, chillies, and tonnato. This was one of the best preparations of octopus I have had recently -- the traditionally tough sea creature was prepared in the most amazing fashion -- silky, sleek, sumptuous, earthy, and all around fabulous. After this octopus, it'd be quite hard to eat the chewy tough version. Next up we had their grilled Spanish mackerel that was served atop a balsamic glaze with hen of the woods mushrooms, chickpeas, pearl red onions, crushed grapes and nebbiolo mostarda. A truly unique combination of flavors, rustic yet refined. And lastly we had their nova scotia lobster, burrata, cherry tomatoes, eggplant all funghetto, and basil dish. The most wonderful combination of lusciousness, vegetal and bright notes with that classic melt in your mouth feel of the burrata. This was the sort of dish that was a special occasion sort of indulgence, so incredibly fabulous!

I thought their lunch was lovely and would most certainly go back. We had just the perfect amount of food, not too much that you couldn't enjoy each morsel. This was haute Italian cooking done right. A great treat / special occasion sort of place.

240 Central Park South

Footnote: I know the past few blogs have been dining out blogs, I promise we will have some cheese spotlights and recipes coming up and of course full coverage of my trip to Iceland later this week! Curious about Icelandic cheese? I know I am!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day Four Hundred and Four : Post Race Brunch at Marseille

What do you want after the NYC half marathon on a chilly Sunday morning?

Coffee, check! Warm clothing, check! Shower, check! How about yummy brunch? Definitely!

Where did we go for brunch on this chilly Sunday afternoon?

Marseille, part of the Tour de France group of restaurants including Nice Matin, Cafe d'Alsace, Pigalle, and many others, features the cuisine of its namesake. A nice sunny warm room facing out to 9th avenue, it was a buzz with conversation but not too loud that you couldn't hear the people you were dining with.

The menu was a mixture of brunch standards with their distinct flair, lunch salads and sandwiches, and more. There was plenty to choose from but I settled on their Frittata Verde with egg whites. It was the perfect sweet and savory brunch dish -- raisins, pine nuts, Swiss chard, pesto, and Parmesan. Super satisfying and filling with a springy light feel! Just what you want after a good long race. The nice thing about Marseille was that I could go back many times and find something new each time that I would want to try. You could tell that the chef has definitely placed his stamp on the classics and reinvented them to make them new and unique. A fun brunch place that's affordable with something for everyone.

Have a lovely Sunday evening folks!

630 9th Ave

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day Four Hundred and Three : Dinner at Salumeria Rosi

Salumeria Rosi is the brainchild of Cesare Casella, a fabulous salumeria and small plates Italian restaurant with a vibrant neighborhoody feel. The sort of place where the executive chef comes out to say hi to his regular customers and brings them the dishes he knows they will love. The menu is a mixture of cheeses, cured meats, soups, and small plates to share accompanied by a nice wine list.

Last night we split their homemade chickpea puree that was served spread on top of crusty Tuscan bread and topped with a thin sliver of cucumber, delish, flavorful and distinct. Then we had their Insalata Pontormo, hold the meats,  so it turned into a soft scrambled egg mixed with delicate greens and radicchio, silky yet punchy, vegetal and fabulous. We also had their sauteed brussel sprouts, always a satisfying go-to for me!

Of course there was cheese.....all Italian, since we were in an Italian restaurant.

Gorgonzola Dolce - super creamy milky blue cheese served with caramelized walnuts. Yum!

Ubriaco - semi soft cow's milk cheese aged in red wine. Creamy yet musty, fresh and zippy yet with hints of grape-y fruitiness.

Burrata - Heaven in cheese form -- a mozzarella shell is filled with cream and stracciatella or fresh curd ribbons, young, fresh, sensual, silky, and all around amazing.

Buffalo Mozzarella served with artichoke hearts -- always reliable, always delish.

Salumeria Rosi is a place where you know you can go and get authentically Italian dishes in a warm, fun, and friendly atmosphere.

Salumeria Rosi
283 Amsterdam

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day Four Hundred and Two : A Belated Irish Favorite

Since I didn't have the chance to discuss an Irish cheese yesterday I thought today I'd tell you all about my favorite Irish cheese -- Cashel Blue. Crafted by the Grubb Family in County Tipperary this was Ireland's original artisanal blue cheese. The Grubb Family actually settled in Ireland three hundred years before when they were exiled from England due to religious differences. From that time, the Grubbs presued mill work along with buttermaking and later cheesemaking and farming. The current Grubb generation developed Cashel Blue in 1984 and the rest is history.

Cashel Blue is a pasteurized semi soft cow's milk blue that is traditionally aged for anywhere between two and four months. It is classically spicy and piquant but with a milky creamy finish -- this my friends is blue cheese done well! Knowing that it was the first Irish blue sets it apart from the pack I think. Isn't nice to know this guy is a trendsetter?

What to drink with it?

If you happen to be lucky enough to score a young piece of Cashel Blue, I recommend having it with a nice light to medium bodied white wine, maybe a Pinot Blanc or something of the sort. Young Cashel Blue will be creamier and less piquant, a rounder mouth feel. Should you get an older piece, it will definitely be more biting, spicy and in your face but never so much that you don't have that fabulous melt in your mouth sort of feel. The older the cheese is, the better it will be with sweet or dessert wine.

A great Irish cheese that is a crowdpleaser. Irish cheese are few and far between here and this one is definitely worth investing in a chunk of.

Image courtesy of

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day Four Hundred and One : How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch # 6

How to Splurge :

Hopeful I'd be able to find a fabulously fancy Irish cheese in honor of St Patrick's Day that fit our splurge budget? Nope. Irish cheeses just don't tend to fall in the expensive category, they tend to be the affordable sort of splurge. Therefore I decided to settle on a stellar Massachusetts cheese made by the smallest creamery one of my favorite cheese purveyors works with -- Carlisle Farmstead cheese / Ruggles Hill Creamery found at Fromaggio Essex (in the Essex Street Market down on the Lower East Side) and their Cambridge based sister shop, Fromaggio Kitchen. Clocking in at $40.96 per pound, this fits our splurge bill.

Carlisle Farmstead Cheese, now known as Ruggles Hill Creamery only has ten goats on their farm and the milk from those ten goats fuel the creation of their fabulous cheeses, here we have chosen Greta's Fair Haven, one of two raw goat's milk cheeses crafted on the farm. This is aged for at least sixty days, it is a tomme style firm cheese. With the short period of aging, the raw goat's milk flavor deepens and expands into an herbaceous, vegetal, barnyardy, earthy and nutty cheese that still maintains the light, crisp, citrus grassy notes of a classic raw goat's cheese. The perfect mixture of youth and age bottled into Greta's Fair Haven.

This is small production farmstead cheese done right and is worth the indulgence on those who appreciate the delicate terrior nuances and intricacies of what raw goat's milk has to offer.

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day Four Hundred : Lunch at Millesime

This afternoon I met a friend for a quick catchup and bite at Millesime, the new-ish Seafood brasserie by chef Laurent Manrique, located in the Carlton Hotel on Madison Avenue and 29th street. Entering the restaurant, not through the hotel is certainly awkward -- one goes down a flight of stairs through a separate what seems bar area that is closed during the days and then up another flight of stairs. When you reach the landing, you enter a very bright and airy dining room, modeled on the classic large scale French brasseries. My eye was first drawn to the salt and pepper Eiffel Tower shakers on each of the tables -- kitsch in their surroundings. I don't necessarily think the restaurant has figured out whether to take itself seriously or lightly but I think a decision in either direction would help.

So what about the food? You have your classic raw bar options, tartars, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, mussels, a few entrees and then basically five different fish options that you can chose how to prepare them. This fish selection would seem appropriate at a brasserie in a seaside town in the Mediterranean in the summer but on a March afternoon, it didn't seem to fit. I also found it unnecessary to have French names for dishes with their English translations underneath, it seemed too much.

So what did we have? We split three of their salad options which were inventive unique takes on classic pairings.The first salad was what they called a grilled Caesar salad -- grilled romaine, smoked black cod, Parmesan, and lime. Instead of being a dressed salad, there were three distinct servings on the dish -- in each case a small bunch of romaine was grilled, topped with EVOO, dressing, Parmesan, lime, a small crostini and a thin slice of smoked black cod. An excellent preparation and a great interpretation of a classic -- the chef really transcends what can sometimes be a run of the mill boring salad and refreshes it! The romaine was tender and melted in your mouth where as the lime was the perfect citrus edge with the nutty creaminess of the Parmesan and the smoky fishiness of the cod -- a perfect melange of ingredients.

Next up we had their shrimp, avocado, and grapefruit salad which was served in a scooped out avocado. A well done melange of flavor profiles that melded together but it felt like this was the sort of salad that belonged at a hotel restaurant in Miami, not in French seafood brasserie style restaurant in Manhattan.

Lastly we had their Tuna Nicoise salad which was fabulous -- again the chef really went above and beyond the traditional version of green beans, canned tuna, eggs, anchoives, and the such. This version had a basil coulis on the bottom with a thin round slice of tuna underneath a mixture of fresh veggies tomatoes, peppers, microgreens, small haricot verts, slivers of quail eggs, small pieces of black olives, a few slices of fingerling potatoes but nothing to overwhelm and "startch-ify" the salad. Light, delicate, fresh, dynamic, flavorful and all around delish. It's obvious that the chef can create his own distinct delish versions of the classics and I think that if he focuses on that, the restaurant would be very successful. I cannot speak to his mussels or entrees or the raw bar selection but from the salads, it seems like in certain instances he nails that traditional brasserie cuisine -- reinventions of the classics but while still maintaining some of the integrity of the original.

The Carlton Hotel
88 Madison Avenue

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day Three Hundred and Ninety Nine : SCS Version 2.0, Dispatch # 1

It's a new month of State Country Spotlights and I thought we would focus on Spain and California. Both have fabulous cheeses being developed and produced in their respective regions and have great cheese histories! Yet each has a very characteristic cheesemaking style and over the course of our four weeks of cheeses from each, I hope you will get a handle on the Spanish and California perspective on cheese. Today I thought in honor of Springtime, we would look at two cheeses infused with aromatics / herbs today.

St Pat hails from Point Reyes Station, CA and is Cowgirl Creamery's seasonal Springtime cheese, traditionally released in early March. Hockey puck sized rounds of Jersey cow's milk are wrapped with stinging nettle leaves and consequently aged for three to four weeks. Upon aging you get a semi soft bloomy rind cow's milk cheese with a green exterior -- dense and cakey in the middle of the cheese yet oozy, creamy, and milky as you get closer to the rind. Unlike other bloomy rind cheeses which are very rich, round and butter forward, the nettle leaves that are on the exterior of this cheese lighten it up and cut through the weightiness! A great mixture of smoky vegetal herbaceousness and creamy richness -- truly unique in the cheese making world in terms of infusions.

Moving across the Atlantic ocean to the Southeastern region of Spain, more specifically -- Murcia, we come across the relatively newly developed cheese, Cabra Romero. A pasteurized goat's milk cheese that is coated in rosemary and aged for anywhere between two and four months. Firm ivory paste on the interior with a nice rosemary crust, this is herb infused cheese done right. Milky crisp lightness is offset with fabulous herbal rustic notes. A classic combination of flavor profiles done well, guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.

And that folks is our first California Spain SCS Dispatch. Interesting to remark of how the Californian is challenging our preconceived notions of herbal cheese infusions where as our Spaniard is going the tried and true route and doing it well.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day Three Ninety Eight - Springy Springtime

Well we turned our clocks back this weekend and the Spring Equinox is rapidly approaching, there are minimal signs of life budding on the trees in Central Park, we're getting there! I know I'm ready for the winter coat / snow boot season to be over and when it is over the first thing I want is asparagus. They symbolize spring time and the green uprising we all feel as we thaw out from winter.

So I thought today I'd propose an ode to spring time -- all veggies except for our cheese star, all green, simple yet filling and fabulous. The base for our asparagus ode with be homemade zucchini "pasta" -- cut between four and six zucchini into thin ribbons that can then be steamed. It will give the dish a lighter springier feel than utilizing a pasta I think and will focus your attention on the earth's bounty which is what this dish is meant to be. While steaming the zucchini, add a half cup of English peas as well to the pot. Steam all together till al dente. Toss with EVOO, grey salt, chives, a dash of mint for brightness, and basil for that fresh herbaceous quality. Next up grab about a sixth of a fennel bulb, dice and saute with a half of a diced up shallot  and EVOO of course. Toss with your zucchini ribbons and peas, this will create the most fabulously aromatic bed for your asparagus to be placed upon. Next up lets grab your asparagus and lightly brush them with EVOO as well. Throw them on your stove top grill for about four minutes (give or take) per side till they are nicely charred, but not burned. The grill's char will dial up the flavor of the asparagus and bring out the lovely green vegetal qualities of today's star. Place your grilled asparagus over the bed of zucchini, peas, and sauteed fennel and top it with some nice shavings of 5 Spoke Creamery's Tumbleweed.

Tumbleweed hails from Pennsylvania and is a firm completely vegetarian raw cow's milk cheese aged for give or take eight months -- its creamy and punchy with cheddary notes yet with a robust round finish -- grassy, fruity, and brown buttery. Its the perfect cheese to have one foot in the winter-time and look ahead to the Spring. It will melt excellently over your green vegetable melody and bring all of the flavors together. Definitely have a glass of white wine with this meal, the perfect light beverage!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day Three Ninety Seven : Of family and non-cheese like adventures

Today was about family, more specifically the celebration of my grandmother's 94th birthday but also a great opportunity to bring family together. Do you ever have those moments where you step back and think gosh I'm so proud that these people I'm surrounded by are my family? That's how I felt today and it's nice in situations like that to reflect and pause for a moment and say internally or out loud how thankful you are. If you are not close with your family, maybe reading the past few lines will make you reach out to that long lost relative or that person who lives nearby but you haven't communicated with recently? So here's to our mothers and fathers and grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins that make the little things in life brighter!

Moving on to a more specific focus on the dairy free meal my mother prepared in honor of my grandmother today. I know you are thinking, gosh this is a blog about cheese, where is all the cheese? Yes there was cheese, the three cheeses we discussed from Michigan, but today the cheese wasn't the culinary star, yes it was fabulous, but the out-of-the-box creativity my mother lent to today's meal needs to be documented...

Our first dish was a base of a celeriac, parsnip, potato, and chervil puree that had one sauteed scallop and spring green melody of peas and asparagus sprinkled on top served with homemade popovers. Gorgeous, seasonal, light, vegetal and flavorful! Next up was the salad and cheese course -- a simple mixed green salad was paired with our three Michigan cheeses and a duxelle balsamic gelee along with homemade rice flour bread and Irish soda bread. The duxelle balsamic gelee was the most unique pairing for the salad greens and cheeses and breads but boy was it the perfect tangy twangy savory accompaniment! Lastly we had avocado panna cotta with an avocado cream on top and a basil whip cream and homemade strawberry jam. It was the sort of meal that was a demonstration of love from a daughter to a mother, the sort of meal that symbolized each woman involved -- creative, dynamic, unique, artistic, intelligent, quirky, all around fantastic and of course with their own special je ne sais quoi. I felt lucky to be able to enjoy the meal and to be able to call the chef my mother and the meal's honoree, my grandmother.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day Three Hundred and Ninety Six :

For those of you dedicated Fromagical readers out there, you may or may not remember my last trip to Ann Arbor and to ZIngerman’s, the nation and world renowned market and group of food related businesses – a bakeshop, a creamery, a deli, a coffeeshop, and plenty more. The last time I visited, I only had the opportunity to go to the deli and coffeeshop –both of which blew me away in terms of the depth and breadth of opportunities for food products and produce, who knew you could find such a fabulous local business in Ann Arbor Michigan, well now I knew!

So this trip, I decided I needed to take an excursion to visit their creamery and their bakeshop, a little further away than the deli and the coffeeshop, but these two locales were where the magic happened – where the breads, pastries, cakes and pies were baked and in turn where their fantastic repertoire of cheeses, ice creams, and sorbets were produced. Walking into the bakeshop on a Saturday morning, you could tell they had been cooking up a storm all morning – I decided to procure their parmesan pepper bagel and their homemade irish soda bread for seasonal purposes to bring back with me. The bagel was the perfect mixture of cheesy, creamy, biting and spicy moments infused into the bagel milieu.

And gosh passing up good Irish Soda bread is just not right and this was spectacular!

Moving onto the creamery next door where they had a sparse selection of homemade cheeses sprinkled with a few other imported cheeses.  I knew what I was buying for, my grandmother's big birthday celebration happening tomorrow and knew I wanted to get a selection of three cheeses all made by Zingerman's to bring back for it.

The first cheese I got was Little Napoleon, a fabulously funky looking goat's milk disc that reveled in its true colors exposing all of the blue-ish grey-ish mold that accompanies the goat cheese aging process. Grassy yet funky, light yet full-bodied, -- a cheese full of fabulous contradictions. I like the fact that the cheesemaker let the mold sing and didn't pat it away to hide it from the consumer.

Next up was the Detroit Street Brick -- bloomy rind goat's milk cheese infused with green peppercorns -- cheesy paste that melts on your tongue with that spicy tang of the green peppercorns!

And lastly I got their Great Lakes Cheshire -- an aged cow's milk cheese which was Zingerman's first exploration into hard cheese and boy is it successful, aged for traditionally at least 8 months it is butterscotchy and tangy yet with an all around melt in your mouth quality for the perfect hard yet satisfying cheese!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day Three Hundred and Ninety Five : Salads...

Last night while walking around the unfamiliar streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan looking for something to pick up for a quick dinner, I noticed a trend when it came to vegetarian options, there were a few basic salads one could get, hummus and pita chips, pastas and pizzas, maybe even a middle eastern sort of falafel opportunity, even a few places that had create your own salad but no unique combinations of veggies, greens, cheese, and more. Maybe that's because this is a college town and you don't necessarily want to put something on the menu that might not appeal to the masses but why not push the envelope a little bit.

Even though I got a simple salad, I got to thinking what if I could create a new salad that would feature on some of these menus around Ann Arbor that might be a little bit different from the norm except that would still appeal to the college aged student?

What would go into this salad? 

A salad composed of Frisee, chopped apples, roasted turnips, roasted walnut, apple chips, homemade sauteed multigrain croutons with garlic and shallots and goat brie topped with a poached egg? A salad meant to be light yet filling, full of bold yet delicate flavors bridging the seasonal gap between winter and spring. Enjoyed with a nice glass of Gruner Veltliner wine.

Stay tuned for a trip to Zingerman's deli and creamery tomorrow folks!
Have a great Friday night!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day Three Hundred and Ninety Four : How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch #5

Since I'm writing to you all from a different city / locale, I thought I'd change things up this week with How to Save / How to Splurge spotlight and instead of giving you an affordable cheese as a recommendation, I thought I'd give you all the place to get affordable cheese -- East Village Cheese, located 40 Third Avenue, near 9th street.

Know before you go, they only take cash. Also you can only buy the 'to order cheese' in the 1/2 or full pound and don't expect to be given a taste.

Know that you can get a multitude of cheeses at under $5 a lb, wheels of Brie for $1, goat cheese logs for $1.79, and more! They tend to have close to a hundred different types of cheese to choose from -- many variations of the classics -- cheddars, goudas, bries, fetas, and the such; on top of a large selection of other cheeses.

Why is it so much cheaper than such a large percentage of other cheese purveyors?

The cheeses are reaching their expiration dates for a large majority or have been produced in bulk and East Village Cheese gets the remainders. Something has got to give, but that does not mean that you can't find something fabulous and delish that won't taste like its gone bad or is about to go bad.

So take yourself over to East Village Cheese, chat with the staff, they'll be able to help you and prepare to be shocked and your wallet to be happy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day Three Hundred and Ninety Three - Dinners on the Road...

Travel a lot for business? Often enough that you know what you like if its just you fending for yourself for dinner and not having to go out with work colleagues? Are you the sort of person who loves getting into that hotel bathrobe and running a bath and ordering room service? Maybe you're the sort of person who loves hitting the ground running discovering the newest hottest places that exemplify wherever you are for work purposes. Or maybe you're neither or something in between or maybe it depends on your level of motivation....

I know that when I travel, if I'm arriving at night and don't feel like being bothered with discovering a restaurant I'll be satisfied with, I'll opt for going to a Whole Foods -- I know I'll be happy -- I can get fresh greens, tofu, cheeses, veggies and more from the prepared salad bar or prepared foods and other offerings, and I won't really have to do anything with them when I check into my hotel room. I find that Whole Foods differ depending on what city you are in and even for example in New York which location you are in -- at Columbus Circle, you can get homemade flat bread pizzas and fresh sushi which surely isn't found to the same degree at the Chelsea locale whereas on the Bowery, they have a gelato and sorbetto bar. Off of the topic of New York Whole Foods and on to the topic of the Ann Arbor Whole Foods where I got my dinner this evening. I was actually completely shocked that not a single prepared salad had cheese in it, there were simple veggie offerings, a raw kale salad which I know and love, some tuna salads and chickens and tofus, but nothing with cheese or noodles. Yes there was crumbled feta, Parmesans, and cheddar on the side, but why no prepared salad opportunities with cheese? If I were to come up with a simple prepared pasta salad with cheese, I think I'd do a penne with roasted cauliflower, herbs, and Gruyere, maybe some Parmesan and red pepper flakes to boot...but why was it that this Whole Foods decided against any salads combining cheese? Maybe if I go back tomorrow, they will have different salads, some with and some without least for tonight, I felt let down that the organic healthy gurus behind the Whole Foods name didn't think to include cheese in any of their prepared salads. Cheese in small quantities is a good source of calcium and protein. But fret not, I went and bought a bit of crumbled fresh chevre to combine with my raw kale, quinoa, lentil and tofu mixture and boy was it just what I needed after a long day and a bumpy airplane flight.

For now folks, have a great night from Ann Arbor Michigan!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day Three Hundred and Ninety Two : SCS Dispatch # 4 - Hard Cheeses

It's the last of our New York / England SCS Dispatches, next week will be a new State / Country and to wrap things up, I'd thought we'd suggest two hard cheeses to round our first month of cheese exploration.

Ouray is masterminded by the folks at Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, New York, not only is it a farm, a marketplace and a B&B, it is also an education center stimulating visitors to connect with the rich agricultural history of New York state and the Northeast region of the United States. Proceeds from the sale of the cheese go back to fund the educational resources the farm offers. Ouray is one of sixteen different cheeses in a multitude of distinct styles that makes up their cheese repertoire -- a raw cow's milk cheese with a natural rind that has been aged for anywhere between seven and nine months. Grassy and floral forward, this is a delicate yet dynamic cheese. Hints of that classic aged crystallization and a nice roundness of mouthfeel, crumbly and slightly granular, but with a fabulous depth. This is a cheese that is great for summer nights sitting around outside and cozy winter evenings around a fire. It was voted one of Wine Spectator's Top 100 Cheeses! 

From across the pond, I thought we would choose the classic and utterly fabulous, Quicke's Cheddar. Produced in the South western region of England for the past 450 years, this farm surely has perfected its craft. They maintain a herd of approximately 340 cows, all cross bred heritage cows -- Friesians, Swedish Reds, and Montbeliard cows. Why such a variety of cows? Because it allows for a ten month grass-fed grazing cycle which is essential in the production of this traditionally produced bandaged cheddar. Aged for anywhere between six and twenty four months, the flavor profile changes depending on the age, of course. There's musty, dusty, farmy, barnyardy moments due to the length of aging process mixed with a milky creaminess and a lightly grassy tangy sharp finish. Overall, a cheese must! A very versatile pairing partner, maybe even try this with a nice hard cider?

And that folks wraps up our four weeks of New York & England SCS Spotlight! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day Three Hundred and Ninety One : Fast, Easy, Fresh Dinners for One

Ever have those days where you want to clean out your fridge? Planning on going out of town and need to use up a bunch of different things? Both apply to me today! So I thought I'd make an open faced sandwich utilizing a large percentage of what's in my fridge before it goes bad.

I'd use the Pain Quotidien Miche bread I had as a base here -- crispy, crunchy, crumbly made with whole wheat flour, it will be perfect to hold up to the remainder of the items going on top of it. Grill two pieces.

What will we top the Miche with?

How about sauteed sugar snaps, english peas, edamame, and broccoli? Maybe throw in some nice EVOO and a diced up shallot? Some sea salt would be lovely too. Saute all of your green veggies over low heat, keep these simple and straight forward with a bright vegetal profile.

What else?

How about using up that fresh ricotta from Fairway? Combine with a few diced parsley leaves and diced chives, EVOO, black pepper, and sea salt. Place a nice coating on each piece of Miche. You're in luck, there are a few pieces of Gravlax (smoked salmon cured with dill, salt, and sugar) in the fridge as well. So why not place a slice or two on each piece of bread and then top with your green saute? You've got a balanced meal -- vegetables, fish, cheese, and carbs and it won't take long to prepare. Enjoy it with a nice glass of white wine.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day Three Hundred Ninety - A spotlight on Krummenswiler

Friday afternoon I stopped into Murray's Cheese at Grand Central to pick up some cheese for a girls night in and being the curious person I am, I had to investigate and see if there were any cheeses I hadn't had that I needed to try!

Yes there were a few and I ended up getting a bit of one -- Krummenswiler, a Swiss raw cow's milk cheese aged for at least six months. There is something about that aged nutty buttery butterscotchy je ne sais quoi of aged Swiss style cheeses in colder months, I don't know what it is but they click for me. Maybe its that they are fuller in body and have a nice depth to them, I'm simply not sure. But mountain cheeses sure are the cat's meow during the winter time months. This was not your typical Swiss style cheese, it is a unique interpretation of a classic Swiss Tilsiter style cheese but all of those faint flavors are dialed up a notch here, its more flavor forward and in your face for all the right reasons -- faintly meaty, round in mouthfeel, supremely nutty, with a nice burnt sugar / butterscotch finish, perfect with a glass of Gruner Veltliner and a great way to celebrate the end of winter with such a fabulous rich, heavy and totally fantastic cheese!

Day Three Eighty Nine : Oops a little late and a little short!

I wanted to alert you all, my dear readers to an article / online forum that I contributed to on molecular gastronomy, otherwise known as avant garde cuisine. Throughout the article, myself and other contributors examine the notion and rise of this sort of cuisine style. Check it out, let me know your thoughts on my writing outside of the cheese world. Give me some feedback and later on today, stay tuned for a fabulous cheese centric post!

Happy Sunday folks!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day Three Eighty Eight : Women in Cheese

Women feature pretty prominently in the developing American artisanal cheese movement and I think that women are experimenting and really pushing the boundaries of cheese and our conceptions of American produced cheeses. I put together a tasting of three cheeses last night all produced by Vermont women cheesemakers / farmers / etc. It was such a fun tasting to put together and a different theme, sometimes its nice to think outside the box in terms of pairing options and themes and so what did I have?

1. Lady in Blue - courtesy of yesterday's spotlight, Lazy Lady Farm, this is a raw milk blue cheese with a fabulously ashen, gamey, moldy, and vegetal rind. Semi firm blue cheese paste is paired with this funky organic exterior. A great blue and certainly not too intense.

2. Manchester - Consider Bardwell's firm goat's milk tomme crafted by Angela Miller and her team of cheese elves. Crisp yet deep, milky and smooth, round yet light, grassy and citrusy and all around fabulous. You can't go wrong with this cheese!

3. Bonne Bouche - Crafted by Vermont Butter and Cheese and Allison Hooper leading the way in the American and more specifically Vermont artisanal cheese revolution, this bloomy rind ash coated goat's milk disk is creamy in all the right ways, round around the edges just like one likes, vegetal and dynamic yet it melts in your mouth in all the right ways!

I could have continued and continued with different cheeses made by women cheesemakers but I thought this was the tip of the iceberg. A fun exploration into the world of cheese and gender.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day Three Eighty Seven - How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch #4


To me cheeses that are over $30 a pound a splurge, over $40, a whole new kettle of fish. Today's cheese is priced just over the splurge amount at $32 a pound and it hails from the quirky Vermont cheesemaker, Laini Fondillier and Lazy Lady Farm. Completely operated by solar and wind power, this farm has been in existence since 1987 with over forty registered Alpine goats. They produce a huge variety of cheeses, currently give or take 21! Laini is known for her experimentation and breadth and depth of cheeses, made with goat and cow's milk and of course, her references to politicians! There's Barick Obama, Biden his Time, Bi-partisan and today's cheese of choice, Tomme Delay.

Tomme Delay is a raw goat's milk cheese with a natural molded barnyardy rind aged for just sixty days. Firm yet moist with that fabulous fresh crisp grassy tang of raw goat's milk, this is honest cheese. You can tell there are no preservatives and chemicals in this baby. The ashen moldy barnyardy flavors of the rind are the perfect counterpart to the clean light ivory interior paste, an all around farmstead cheese delight! I'd enjoy this with a nice Pilsner style beer, something light but with a bit of weight.

You can get Tomme Delay and other Lazy Lady cheese at Lucy's Whey in Chelsea Market.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day Three Eighty Six - A bite at Co.

Co, Jim Lahey's casual pizza joint is my favorite pizza place in town -- they've got an extensive selection of Austrian wines and even bubbly ones, definitely bringing a smile to my face. Apart from the wine selection, they've got the best thin crusted pizza pies in town, great salads, cheeses and more. I know I've already blogged about my last time at Co, but we had a different pizza this time so I thought why not sing the restaurant's praises a little more.

Last night, we split their Kale salad and their Popeye pizza. Their kale salad was composed of kale, brown rice vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, roasted celery root, mutsu apple and scallions. It was a fabulously vegetal herbaceously crisp salad, not too heavy on the dressing, allowing the veggies to sing not drowning in liquid that would mask their flavors. After our lovely salad, the Popeye pizza hit the spot! A thin, slightly burned crust, crunchy and simple was topped with three cheeses (Pecorino, Gruyere and Mozzarella) and heaping amounts of spinach,  black pepper and garlic. This was light, savory, green and creamy and wonderful! We had our meal with a nice light sparkling Gruner, delish and perfect.

Co is the sort of place I can go back to time and time again and always be thrilled with my meal. Sometimes there's a bit of a wait for a table, but it is totally worth it! So next time you are in Chelsea, stop into Co, I promise you won't be dissapointed.

230 Ninth Ave.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day Three Hundred and Eighty Five : SCS Spotlight Dispatch # 3 : Washed Rind Cheeses

It's week three of our SCS New York and England spotlight and this week we will take on washed rind cheeses. Washed rind cheeses tend to be an acquired taste, I think they awaken the senses and stimulate the taste buds, maybe you feel the same.

What makes a washed rind cheese? That they are washed with either a brine-y liquid, wine, beer, or other liquors -- deepening the flavor profile of the cheese in unique and dynamic ways.

Hailing from the New Yorker's summer destination of the Hamptons, more specifically Bridgehampton, Mecox Sunrise is our New Yorker this week. Crafted by a family run creamery, Mecox Bay Dairy, this cheese is composed completely of cow's milk and aged for two to four months and washed with a brine based solution. The brine washing gives way to its namesake orange-y rind. It is everything you want in a washed rind cheese -- pungent, biting and farmsteady with a nice nutty grassy creamy paste. Full of the terroir? Yes! Intense? Yes! For the faint of heart? No! This fabulously fantastic cheese would be perfect with a nice glass of Riesling.

Image courtesy of

What is our washed rind cheese from across the pond? 

It is the aptly named Stinking Bishop, hailing from Gloucestershire, in the Southwestern region of England. Produced since 1972 by Charles Martell, it has somewhat of a similar set of characteristics as say a Munster style cheese but totally its own entity. The name Stinking Bishop comes from the pear liquor (perry) utilized to wash the exterior of this cheese that is made up of stinking bishop pears. Aged for approximately two months, unlike Mecox Sunrise, Stinking Bishop is a semi-soft cheese crafted with cow's milk. It has a very strong nose and will announce its presence that's for sure! On the tongue, it has  faintly sweet fruity floral notes with a nice balance of farmsteady washed rind classic moments. It had its ten minutes in the spotlight when it was utilized to revive Wallace from the dead in the 2005 film,  Wallace and Gromit : The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Sales and demand for the cheese increased 500%. So what to pair it with? A nice glass of Chardonnay!

Image courtesy of

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