Showing posts with label Vermont cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vermont cheese. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fudgy Blue Cheese Truffles

If I were to list some of my favorite foods (in no particular order) it would go a bit like this

  1. cheese
  2. salty goodness
  3. mashed potatoes
  4. spinach
  5. chocolate
  6. peanut butter  and...
  7. cumin (I know it's not exactly a food)
Sometimes these things mate and make delicious babies.  Peanut butter and chocolate is one of our best inventions as a species.   Pretzels and chocolate aren't too shabby either.  A few years ago there was a woman, nay Goddess who was working at Marion Street Cheese Market.  She was making a dark chocolate bar that was studded with aged gouda.  It was my precious.  Unfortunately she ended up leaving the shop and I have not been able to find her or her delicious chocolate concoctions since then.  For years now there has been a profound emptiness in my heart and tummy.    

Last month I discovered something delightful.  A treat that could possibly fill the void.  A chocolately treat of magnificence. 

Laughing Moon Chocolate from Vermont makes some very delicious chocolates and they have a bonbon/truffle/callitwhateveryoulikeitschocolategoodness that is blended with Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill.      As you all know by now, Jasper Hill makes some of the most delicious cheese around.  Their Bayley Hazen Blue is a natural-rind cheese with a crumbly dry texture that can make cutting it into pretty wedges a bit challenging at times.  It has a lovely butteriness to it and tastes kind of fudgy.  Yup.  It's a cheese that already tastes a bit like chocolate and has that dense, chewy fudge texture.

The combination of the cheese and the chocolate should be as symbiotic as any two foods can be.  And it is...mostly.  The chocolate shell is thick and has a great snap to it when you bite into it.  The interior truffle is luscious, silky and smooth.  It is by all counts a delicious treat.  There is just one itsy bitsy small problem.  It's not cheesy enough.  In fact, after eating one truffle I didn't get a lot of blue cheese flavor.  In the second truffle there was a bit more.  By truffle number three (I sacrifice so much for you guys) I was getting a bit more, but it just wasn't cheesy enough.  The texture is definitely dense and fudgy, but I need more cheese.

I had a few friends blind taste test the truffles, and they thought that there was something unique about them, but couldn't quite place what it was.  When I told them the truffles had BHB in them everyone was surprised and not one had guessed that was the magical ingredient.

Now don't get me wrong, the chocolate is freakin' divine.  The next time I get them I think I'll add them to my cheese board I'll just make sure there's an extra sliver of blue cheese nearby.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blogging and ACS Update

Hey there fellow turophiles. If you're at all like me you've been following the ACS conference by stalking those fortunate conference attendees who tweet, blog and do regular Facebook updates about it. My boss just texted me the winners and here they are:

Best of Show:
1st Place Pleasant Ridge Reserve
2nd Place Bonne Bouche pt 2 can be found here
3rd Place Spring Brook Farm Tarentaise

I'm going to have to change my tune at work. No I'm going to have to start saying

"Pleasant Ridge Reserve is the only cheese to have won 'Best of Show' three times at the ACS conference."

Congratulations Vermont!

On an unrelated note, I am in the process of moving my blog to Wordpress. The url will stay the same, but the overall design, and gadgets I get to play with will be 100% more rad. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Brother Is Awesome

My most recent cheese journey was just last week when I went back to Vermont. I used the excuse that I wanted to go to the Vermont Cheesemaker's Festival, but in all honesty I just wanted to go "back home".

I know, I know, I've written posts about going back home to New York as well, and on some level I'll always be a girl from Queens, but Vermont is my soul. My most favorite thing to do when back in the Green Mountain State is to hang out with my brother. No, not that brother, the other one. The "good" one. The one who let's me crash on his bed while he takes the air mattress. The one who picks me up at the Boston airport just so we can go to a cheese shop and then drives me all over Vermont looking for tasty cheese. The one I haven't seen in a year. My best friend and emotional twin.

The next few posts are all dedicated to my fantastically wonderful, bad-ass, kick butt drummer, illegal-car driving, border-patrol avoiding, can't grow a full bushy beard to save his life brother. Thanks for making last week awesome!

On day one I landed at Logan airport with a GPS and an address of a cheese shop. Located only 10 minutes away from Logan on a tiny quiet little street is South End Formaggio. This shop might be small, but it is jam-packed with goodies. They have a lunch counter where you can get a huge ham and butter sandwich or even half a roasted chicken. There's a great array of cured meats and pate, craft beer, artisan wines, jams, mustards, crackers, some seasonal fresh fruit, frozen treats, tons of delicious chocolate and of course cheese. They are a cut-to-order shop with no minimum cut and let you taste just about everything. That's my favorite kind of shp to visit. I don't like being forced to buy a certain amount of cheese. I like to pick and choose, using measures such as "a smidge" and "sniglet". I forced my brother to try everything with me-even things he wasn't terribly excited about. We ended up with some Taleggio, Selles-sur-Cher and some especially fruity and nutty Comte.

Selles-sur-Cher is one of my favorite goat's milk cheeses. It's just a small disk of fresh chevre from France that has been rubbed in ash. This cheese is sublime. It has a firm texture with a bit of a sour, salty sweetness and barnyardy notes too. Unfortunately, since the AOC cheese is made from raw milk and the cheese is aged less than 60 days, in the U.S.A. we can only get pasteurized versions. The "authentic" cheese is very similar to the pasteurized version except it has a bit more goatiness to it. Although very similar to Bonne Bouche in size, this cheese is a bit more mellow, and tame. It's the "Cathy" to Bonne Bouche's "Patty" We ate it while watching Meg Ryan movies and mocking her precocious "acting skills".

The next day we took the "scenic" route (some might say we got lost) to Shelburne for a Vermont Farm Tour. Our guide was Chris and 14 of us set out to visit three artisan cheesemakers in Addison county. Doing the tour with Vermont Farm Tours was awesome. Two of the cheesemakers I'd wanted to visit on my trip to Vermont were on the tour: Twig Farm-makers of obscenely delicious cheese and Dancing Cow-cheesemakers who name all their delicious cheeses after dances. Taking the tour meant less driving for us and a more relaxed atmosphere.

Chris from Vermont Farm Tours

There were people of varying experiences there. One couple from Canada who are putting together an artisan cheese festival in June. One couple from Mexico who had a small herd of goats and were embarking upon their own cheesemaking journey-even though they don't like goat cheese. It was interesting being surrounded by so many people and having a chance to look at the cheese world through the eyes of others.

Of course we did the Vermont cheesemaker's Festival as well. I decided to splurge this year and buy the wine glass so I could taste and get...happy. The bro was stuc as the designated driver since it doesn't take much for me to be unable to drive. My favorite things from this year's festival were the Eden Ice Cider, Triple Cream and Cream Cheese from Champlain Valley Creamery, and this wicked awesome cheese I'd never had before from Cricket Creek Farm called Tobasi. Tobasi is a seasonally-made semi-soft raw cow's milk cheese, aged for about 3 months. It looks like tree bark, and it tastes a bit like a mild Taleggio. Full of grassy, nutty, creamy, earthy, lactic notes. No, I don't' know why a cheese from MA was at the VT Cheesemaker's Festival.

Tobasi is delicious and looks like tree bark and cheese had a baby.

They had a little pen with a sheep and two snow white little goats who like to play.

I love this t-shirt from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery.

I love going out to breakfast. Especially when I'm in Vermont (real maple syrup on everything). If you enjoy deliciousness you have to make sure that you stop at the Penny Cluse Cafe in Burlington and get an order of gingerbread pancakes. They are light as a cloud, full of flavor, and hearty. I love them year-round, but can't wait to have them in the winter when it's really cold outside. I forced my brother to make a stop on our way to the festival. They also have fantastic juices made on premise. The grapefruit is especially divine.

If you're in Montpelier stop at Kismet Kitchen on Barre street. Fresh juice bar, local and organic foods, vegetarian and vegan options and specials that truly are special. My favorite was the fried green tomato Benedict. Oh, and thanks to the awesome server who let me go on and on about my slight obsession over duck eggs and then offered to poach some as a substitution for chicken eggs. It was the last thing I ate on this trip to Vermont, and one of the best.

Oh Vermont I miss you already, but not for long. I have decided to leave Chicago this year. When I first moved here to work at Spiagga I planned to be out here for one year and then move back to the East Coast. This summer was my sixth in the Windy City. I have had great experiences working in fantastic restaurants, and of course getting to work in a great cheese shop for the past few years, but I'm not a big city girl, and every time I go back to Vermont I'm reminded of that.

Dear reader this is where you come in. If you know of anyone looking for a cheese-passionate, slightly off-center, cheesy lass who can sing, plays the tambourine* and adores Vermont let me know. My email is

Things that I will be addressing in upcoming posts:

My Brother Is Awesome but not as cute as goats
I am the macaroni and cheese champion
What's that smell? Oh, it's coming from my suitcase.
Farmstead cheesemakers are awesome and raw milk didn't kill me
Lazy Lady Farm and avoiding the border patrol

*Technically I don't actually play the tambourine, but it doesn't look too hard. I'll learn.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Booty from NYC part 4- the final chapter

I had no idea how much time I was going to have to spend eating these 9 cheeses. Day in and day out. Tasting them bit by bit, until I have nothing left but mac n' cheese fodder. Most of the cheese I got were great (Forsterkaase just didn't impress me) and most of the people I got to talk with were awesome (yes, I'm talking about you Saxelby). With this last post I realize how much fun I've had collecting my cheeses, tasting them, and then letting you guys in on the goods. I've got to take more cheese trips.

Ok, on with the show. Next up on the hit parade is Kunik. This cheese was a melt in your mouth, spreadable, salty, buttery delight. This was the first cheese to be devoured. Kunik is a triple creme cow/goat blend cheese from Nettle Meadow Farm in upstate NY. Usually I'm not a 3x creme gal. I find them to be salty, and a bit like eating a stick of butter. There are however exceptions, and this is one of them. It's the goat in it. The goat gives this cheese depth, and tang, and tastioscity.

Next up is Square. Yes, I know it's in a triangle. My brother pointed that out to me. I had to pinch him for being a turd. This cheese is from Twig Farm in Vermont. Yes, another Vermont cheese. I'm biased. I know. I don't care. Vermont rules! This is a raw goat's milk cheese that I imagine is inspired by Drap. This cheese is shaped with cheese cloth, and has an indentation from the knot of the cloth. This cheese might also be inspired by Garoxxta, but it's yummier. The rind on this cheese is out of control. They call it rustic. I agree. I found it to be a bit mineraly, like wet rocks. I like that. The nutty, tangy, surprisingly creamy paste was absolutely delicious!

The only problem I had was with the rind a few days later. The rind got a distinctive Mr. Clean/ammonia odor. If you have a cheese that has developed this odor, do not throw it away-yet. Unwrap it and let it sit out on the counter and let it think about what it wants to do. A half an hour should do it, the smell should dissipate. Most of the time it's gotten that smell because it's been wrapped up too long, or tightly, or because it's just being a cranky bitchy little cheese. In this case, the rind never lost that smell. I cut around it, and ended up shaving the paste onto salad. Tasty, and a good way to save cheese. I just hate throwing out cheese. Even if it smells like Mr. Clean.

The last cheese on our journey is the Barick. Saxelby spoke about this cheese back in 2007:

"Barick Obama:
(Lazy Lady Farm, Westfield VT)
Laini Fondiller has got to have one of the busiest brains in the cheese biz. Not only is she relentless about inventing new cheeses (I think her average is about one a week) she isn't shy about giving them some pretty hilarious names. Barick is a little paving stone shaped cheese of buttery, creamy, earthy cows' milk cheese with a beautiful washed rind kissed by patches of purplish and yellow mold."

Laini is a bit of a cheeky monkey when it comes to naming her cheeses. Have you tried the Tomme de lay? Lazy Lady Farm is one of those names I always trust. I hardly ever get to eat it anymore since I'm way out here in Chicago, but I always get some of her stuff when I'm back east. It's always pounced upon, and I rarely share. This cheese is a double creme washed rind cheese. It is buttery, beefy, a bit fruity, and made me wished that I drank more so I could have a beer with it. Perhaps an IPA or something else hoppish.

For those of you who celebrate it, Happy Easter! Happy Passover! If you don't celebrate, Happy Sunday!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Booty from NYC part 3 with grilled cheese bonus

This is the Ascutney Mountain cheese from Cobb Hill Cheese in Hartland, VT. Their website describes this cheese as being similar to an Alpine cheese such as Comte or Gruyere. Sure. It is done in the Alpine style. But this cheese is so much more.

Where a Comte or Gruyere lays on the tongue gently, the Ascutney Mtn. is more assertive. It tastes green. When I gave some to our cheese buyer to try he said "Vermont cheese always have a vegetal taste to them." I agree. This cheese has a clover, dandelion, grassiness to it, but I also get a wee bit of artichoke, and onion. Ramps really. She is a wild, untamed, luscious Goddess and I love her so.

All told I bought 9 cheese from NY. This was the only cheese that I'd ever had before. She is one of my favorite cheeses. Ever.

I also bought some Magic Mountain from Woodcock Farm, also in Vermont. I am not putting the pic up, not because this cheese isn't tasty, but because my photo is awful. It makes the cheese look hideous, and the cheese deserves better. This cheese is a sheep's milk cheese, that has a nice round flavor. A bit grassy, a fatty mouth feel, and toothy texture.

After tasting theses cheeses I tried to think about what I was going to do with them all. Lucky for me it's National Grilled Cheese Month! Well, instead of putting my scraps into a mac and cheese, I made a ridiculously tasty grilled cheese.

I call this the Magical Ascutney Mountain. I took some Magic Mountain, and some Ascutney Mountain, put it in between two slices of wheat bread, and tada! Magic!

I also decided to make a grilled cheese with Asiago pepper bread. I filled it with Asiago Fresco, Grafton Premium Cheddar and added some oven roasted tomatoes for kicks. I love grilled cheese month!

*The Ascutney and the Magic are both from Saxelby Cheesemongers. Saxelby specializes in American cheese. The have really close relationships with the farmers and makers of the cheese, and do a great job promoting them. If you are in NYC take a trip into Manhattan, and check them out*