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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cheese from Georgia

When you think of cheese, chances are you don't think of the south. You sure as heck don't think about Georgia. But you should.

Sweet Grass Dairy in Georgia makes a wonderful cheese called Green Hill. This is a pasteurized cow's milk cheese done Camembert style. Green Hill is super hot all over the cheese world right now, having just gained a surge in popularity due to a showcase on the Martha Stewart daytime talk show. I found this little cheese at Zabar's when I was back home last month.

This is one of my favorite cheeses-and it doesn't even come from VT! When I first started working at the shop over 2 years ago we carried it, but since we try to rotate our cheeses, we had to make way for other American cheesemakers.

This is a double cream cheese. The young ones are soft, a little sweet and have a slight grassiness. I like them best when they're super ripe. Then it becomes this runny, gooey, sweet, creamy, salty, flowery, white mushroomy, spready mess of goodness.

Mmmm...gooey cheesy goodness

Side note: If you've never been to Zabar's on a trip to NYC, I advise you to go. I hadn't been to Zabar's in years, but as a kid I loved going. My bio mom would get my grandmother to give us a ride into Manhattan from Queens. We'd spend all day in the city doing my mother's errands. She needed fabric, yarn, fresh filo dough, cheap clothes for us kids who kept growing and of course, as a treat we'd go to Zabar's for bagels and black and white cookies.

Zabar's has the best brunch supplies ever. They are also one of the few places in NY I've found where you can still get a really good black and white cookie. To me Zabar's is New York City. It's loud, crowded, pushy, kind, fast-paced, tasty, homey and has a lot of stuff crammed into a really small space. It's always changing while staying exactly the same.

It's one of my favorite places in New York, and finding one of my favorite cheeses there just made my trip a little bit better.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today is all about love. Flowers, chocolate, champagne and cheese. This year I have two Valentine's and this post is dedicated to them.

Russ. Has it really been less than two weeks since we met? I came into the Apple store, scared cold, and clutching my little 13" MacBook Camembert in my arms. I gave her to you. I told you the problem and you took charge of the situation. You saw all the cheese stickers on my computer and asked me about them. Calming me with your Wisconsin cheese talk and distracting me from the possibility of computer heartache. Last night when I came back to the genius bar you greeted me with a broad smile, telling me that Camembert was going to be OK. I heart you.

I am writing this while I eat my lunch of Bijou, Water Wheel crackers and spiced sour cherry spread from The Gracious Gourmet. Thank you Russ.

My second Valentine is my grandma. She's 92 year old and I love her more than anyone in this world. Nana loves cheese, and whenever I go back to NY I pick up something tasty for her to try. On my last visit we tried a "Goat Brie" from Montchevre in WI called Cabrie.

Yes, I know Brie is a protected name. I know it's not made from goat's milk. I did a whole little rant about it in a post last year.

I am familiar with Montchevre's fresh goat cheese. We use it at work on our sandwich menu and I've had it at home as well. I was pretty excited when I found this little round at the cheese case in a Long Island Whole Foods. My Nana loved it. She thought it was a nice mild, creamy cheese, and she kept asking for more. I mostly agree with my Nana, the problem for me was that it wasn't goaty enough.

As you know, I love goat's milk cheeses. They make me uberhappy. This cheese has a pleasing milky quality to it, but was just too mild for me. There was a whisper of goat, but not enough for my goat loving palate. I also found the rind to be too rindy. The rind to paste ratio was good, but with such a mild paste, for me, the texture and bitterness of the rind overpowered the cheesy goodness.

Okay, so the cheese isn't goaty. What is does have going for it is a mild sweetness with a faint wildflower aroma. While it's okay on it's own, my suggestion is to try it with a little bit of honey on some warm crusty bread. The cheese melts into the bread like butter. Put a few grains of kosher or sea salt on it and you've got yourself a tasty yum treat.

Wishing you all a day filled with love, and a happy #cheeseSunday!*

*Cheese Sunday is an ongoing thing with some of the cheesy people on twitter. If you have a twitter account check it out and participate!