Sunday in the Park with Cheese

Today, Jarlsberg, the Viking, and Stilton went up to Sognsvann, a lake in the hills of Oslo for a late afternoon picnic.

picnic by sognsvann

In addition to crackers, tomatoes, prosecco, seltzer, clementines, honey imported from Italy, by way of Eataly, there were many cheeses packed in their picnic basket, some of which were purchased at Maschmanns.

ctmy40-sognsvann cheese fest

Starting in the upper left, there is Rosalita. Jarlsberg & the Viking were not fans of this “brain-textured” wheel. Stilton didn’t really love or hate it. Then, in the middle there is Kraftkar, which is nothing like a Kraft single! It’s a “powerhouse” of a veiny, bluey cheese from a dairy farm on the west coast of Norway. Jarlsberg kindly donated her portion of Taleggio to the table. Then, on the bottom left is another generous share from Jarlsberg’s Époisses stash. There was talk of a tart being made with this cheese and apples, but in the end, we had to dig into it immediately. Finally, comes Jemima, a Norwegian cheese we just had to try for the name alone. Jarlsberg described it as Comté’s cousin, and Stilton added, who is still wearing braces.

ctmy41-epoisses with chili-rhubarb compote

The Viking had made some delicious rhubarb-chili compote and Stilton enjoyed putting this topping on crackers smeared with Taleggio or Époisses.

Our reunion was all too short and we don’t know when we will next be in the same region at the same time, but wherever we do get together again, we are sure to have some cheese at the table!

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Reunited and It Tastes So Good!

Stilton Velveeta & Jarlsberg Emmental have reunited in Oslo, Norway! One of the first things we did was go out for pizza.

ctmy38-fire ost pizza

This is the quattro formaggio (or fire ost) pizza we ate outside the Maschmanns Matmarked in Skøyen, a business district in the western area of the city. The pizza featured Bufala Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Taleggio, and Grana, which are four cheeses we have enjoyed in the past. Jarls is particularly fond of Taleggio and Stilton pointed out that there is an ongoing rivalry among Italians as to which is better, Parmagiano or Grana. It usually comes down to a regional preference. Oh, and note how there just happens to be a vague Italian flag background created by the green table, white napkin, and red rug!

ctmy39-pizza med fersk basilikum

Those colors are repeated on the pizza itself. The original pizza Margherita was in fact created to honor the Queen Margherita with those colors using basil (green), mozzarella (white), and tomatoes (red). This day, we just tore our fresh basil leaves off a plant sitting on the table. Stilton couldn’t imagine doing this at a restaurant in the States!

Even Yummier Yarg?

In London, I stumbled upon some more Cornish Yarg. This one was wrapped in wild garlic leaves, so it is enhanced by that flavor. The shop attendant in Pistachio & Pickle Dairy in Camden Passage, Islington told me that I would not get the typical intense experience of biting into a bit of garlic clove, but something more subtle.

ctmy36-wild garlic yarg

The cheeseman kindly let me photograph the rind of the wheel of Yarg as he wrapped up a small sliver of it for me to takeaway. As it happened, I got a bit turned around making my way back my digs, so as I grew peckish, I pulled out the Yarg slice and had a few bites to tide me over as I studied the map.

ctmy37-slice o' yarg

My thanks to this Cornish countryside whose bounty leads to this delicious cheese, from the grass the dairy cows munch upon to the nettle or wild garlic leaves. All of it plays a part in creating this masterful cheese! Meur ras Kernow!

Mighty Mimolette & Yummy Yarg

Yesterday, while my cousin, Rubi, & I were in Edinburgh, we visited one of my favorite places, Iain Mellis’s cheese shop, better known as “Smellis”, because the aroma wafting out its doors is certainly… um, “fragant”!

ctmy30-smellis!We had been invited to join friends for a casual supper and wanted to arrive with something delicious to share. Right away, I spied the Mimolette, for its color is so much stronger than the average pale gold of the majority of cheeses on display.

ctmy31-smellis spread

I know in the past I have had this cheese and in fact, I gave it as middle name to Gouda’s child, Derby, when she was being cheesened. I will admit at the time that I didn’t know about the mites involved in the making of this cheese! And I’m not sure if I will share this new found information with our dinner hosts, or with li’l Miss Derby…

ctmy33-dead man's skull cheeseBut it is certainly an interesting cheese with its bright orange color that contrasts against the crusty rind. The shop girl helping us told us that Mimolette had earned the nickname, “dead man’s skull” as a result of this unique trait.

ctmy32-handmade oatcakes & mimmoletteCrackers, as Wallace would point out, are essential to cheese enjoyment, so I selected some oatcakes. They had a definite rough look, but when I queried whether we had chosen a good pair, we were told the wonderful history of this company. Adamson’s had been making their oatcakes by hand for years but at some point, they decided to modernize to machine-made ones. Well, neither the staff nor their oatcake-lovin’ customers were satisfied with the result, so Adamson’s returned to their old fashioned, but just right, methods, and everyone is happy!

ctmy34-yarg!

Rubi lives in Linlithgow, about 20 miles outside Edinburgh. I lived in this small town, too, for a spell about 8 years ago. During that time, I discovered this lovely Cornish cheese. I believe I initially was drawn to it, merely because its name, Yarg, reminded me of the goofy henchman’s utterance in Hot Fuzz of “Yarrrp“. Aside from that fun association, the cheese is quite tasty.
ctmy35-count the nettle leaves

As you can see the cheese is wrapped in nettle leaves. Rubi’s friend, Lavistown, worried that the leaves might sting his mouth, but I assured him they would not. While they add a flavor, it’s not a strong one at all. In fact, I’d say this cheese is on the mild side, so perhaps it’s the exoticism of the leaves-as-rind that keeps drawing me back to it. In the shop where I purchased it, the attendant remarked that I was the second person today to request this cheese. And I encouraged her to try it!

OK, that’s lower Scotland-by-cheese, I’ll report back if I get up to any further cheesiness down south…

New & Improved Cheese Options… in the Airport?!?

My circuitous journey that will ultimately lead to a meet up with Jarlsberg next Saturday involved an initial extended layover in the LaGuardia Airport of NYC. While I wasn’t terribly pleased with my first flight’s delay (for it forced a cancellation of an anticipated reunion in Atlanta that likely would’ve been turocentric), I made the best of it and decided to sample some of the fancy food on offer. I must say it felt very 21st century (meet George Jetson!) to order my lunch from an iPad.
ctmy29-fontina & arugula bruschetta

I decided to have a bruschetta festival when I saw all the delicious varieties available from the local café: first, there is fontina & spinach and the classic tomato topped with arugula–that’s the only one without cheese! All of these claimed to be on Balthazar’s bread and it was good, so hopefully they weren’t lying.

ctymy28-taleggio & ricotta bruschettaThe other two I tried featured Taleggio with green onions, though the menu had referenced fennel fronds, and ricotta with honey. These latter ones were definitely my favorite of the four. I made a delicious lunch feasting upon half of each pictured here, and definitely caused heads to turn from the pungent aroma emanating from the Taleggio slices. I saved my leftovers and had the rest for dinner in Atlanta during my shortened layover and then later on my next flight headed ‘cross “the big pond”. Next stop, next post will perhaps feature some British cheeses… check back soon!

Ricotta, Rosemary, & Rye Round-up

My last post waxed poetic about my newfound love for ricotta. So, I’ll begin this one with a bit of a postscript. About a month ago, I went out to a bar in the city with some coworkers. In the past, while the drinks here are good and we love their half-price happy hour, we’d found the food always to be kinda lacking. We didn’t really mind because inevitably, after a few drinks, we can stumble up to Shake Shack a few streets away, and gratefully gorge ourselves on grease to sop up the alcohol. However, on a few more recent visits, we had discovered that the bar had upped their food game by ordering in some fancier food from an outside kitchen.
ctmy24-house made ricottaThis is the house made ricotta drizzled with aged balsamic and served with sour dough toast made with rosemary & thyme. We ran out of toast before ricotta and shamelessly resorted to scooping what was left onto our fingers because yes, it was that good.

So, maybe it’s something I have about the little R, but a few weeks after that, I got into rye…

ctmy25-double carawaysI randomly found a a hunk of Havarti mixed with caraway seeds at the local village market. I ran home with my new cheese, toasted up a marble rye bagel, and topped it with slices of the Havarti for lunch one afternoon. It must have been a hot day, or I was very hungry, for I didn’t wait to melt the cheese. Double the caraway = double the yum!

ctmy27-luncheonette signage

Talk of melting cheese brings us to this afternoon, when Menage ChedDar and I went out to lunch at this quaint joint on the Upper East Side of NYC. This neighborhood is practically empty at this time of the year, so we had no trouble scoring a booth for two. My old boss had told me that this place does a good grilled cheese, so that’s what I ordered.
ctmy26-luncheonette grilled cheeseOf course, I had to gourmet it up a bit and I asked for mushroom and swiss on rye. Menage fell head over heels for the charm of this bygone place, sadly predicting that it’ll likely become another Citibank in 10 years or so. But if you find yourself in the city before August 2025, perhaps stop off at the Lexington Candy Shop & Lucheonette at the corner of 83rd & Lex. They serve breakfast all day, so I expect before long we will return.

However, for the moment, I’ll drop the hint that Stil & Jarls are about to meet up! And we vow that we will document any portion of our reunion featuring cheese on this blog we share with you. Stand by… the Stilton Express will shortly be rolling into Oslo Central!

Taleggio and Rosé: a pairing

I first heard about (and tasted) Taleggio at a cheese and beer pairing class at Central Market in Dallas back in 2011. The combination was a home-run for my taste buds – I actually have no idea what other cheeses I tasted that night. Somewhere in my yet-to-be-shipped boxes for Oslo is the list of everything we paired in class, so instead of taking a chance on the wrong beer for my recently purchased Taleggio, I decided to pair it with a Rosé which I had sitting in my fridge. It turned out to be a really wonderful pairing!

Made in the northern Valsassina foothills of Italy since the 9th century, Taleggio is a mild, semi-soft cow’s milk cheese that has a fruity tang, which might come as a surprise since its rind is so pungent. How does that rind get so stinky, you ask? Well, to quote Murray’s delicious sounding description:  the cheese is “washed with a brine to foster a sticky, orange edible rind while air pumped from the original caves causes a dappling of soft and earthy tasting grey mold.” A dappling of soft and earthy tasting grey mold? Has cheese ever sounded so poetic? I’ll take two, please!

I had a very happy belly after my spontaneous pairing, and I can only hope that you will too if you decide to try Taleggio and Rosé. Close your eyes, take a bite…I can see those Valsassina foothills from here, can’t you?

Taleggio and Rose