Fromage for your day
Cheese, in some way, is part of all of our lives. From the pungent aromas of a bold bleu to the delicacy of a fresh farm fromage, this fragrant food is a main ingredient in the melting pot of our American culture.
I have a long-term love affair with cheese, a relationship that’s been aged and cultivated over the course of my life. If you’re not a hardcore cheese lover but instead just a dabbler who’s not ready to plunge into something like a Limburger, some “starter” cheeses are the best way to ease into the cheese.
Here are 10 great new cheese recipes from around the country. Try one out in celebration of National Cheese Lovers Day.
Grana Padano is a sweet, nutty Italian cheese is often mistaken for its more mature cousin Parmagiano Reggiano. It looks, feels and even smells much like it, but in reality it is much younger and milder. That mild flavor is what makes it perfect for its traditional use as a grating cheese over pasta and other dishes. It’s also great to serve sliced with nuts and fruit and pairs great with most any Italian red or pinot grigio.
For a little history, the best place to go (and a great place to buy) is to an established expert. Here in Austin, Antonelli's Cheese Shop in Hyde Park is the place to get the best cheese low down. Or for an online experience try Di Palo’s, a near-century old “dairy store” in New York City’s Little Italy, one of the first Old World cheese shops in the country.
“Grana Padano is the original Italian PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese from the Po River Valley in Northern Italy and is the best selling PDO cheese worldwide, with over 4 million wheels sold per year. Grana Padano is produced in the regions of Piemonte, Lombardia, Veneto, part of Trentino and the province of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna, from naturally, partially skimmed milk from these regions. This cheese was first produced almost 1000 years ago and became increasingly popular through the 1400s. "Grana" refers to the grainy, crumbly texture of the cheese and "Padano" refers to its area of origin, the fertile Padana Valley. Before being fire-branded with the Grana Padano seal, each wheel of cheese must pass strict checks.”
Barely Buzzed is a little off the beaten path, but one I think is worthy of a test if you happen to be a coffee lover as well. This made in America, award-winning cheese is a creamy, nutty cheese encased in a rind of crushed lavender and finely ground Turkish coffee. The complexity of the cheese with the lavender and coffee is surprisingly not overwhelming but more of a friendship of flavors. Although this cheese is right at home on a cheeseboard, it is also amazing in a mac and cheese.
Barely Buzzed comes from Beehive Cheese which sits in the Wasatch Mountains outside of Uintah, Utah. It’s a modern cheese operation with old-world craftsmanship. Brothers-in-law Tim Welsh and Pat Ford run the creamery, with most of the family involved in the cheese-making business.
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss.