Queen Kunik

I can’t believe it’s taken me over a year to feature the mighty Kunik, my favorite cheese! This beaut was first mentioned in my brief bio. I think I first discovered her via Harney & Sons teashop in SoHo.ctmy83-kunik!

And then, the other day, I was checking out the impressive variety of cheeses on offer at my new & improved grocery in the country, and I knew I liked this place because they had wheels of Kunik. Even better, someone had accidentally priced it far too low, so I got a steal of a deal. Yee-haw!

ctmy84-white on the outside & yellow on the insideWhat makes Kunik so yummy? It’s a little wheel of cheese heaven from upstate New York that’s been made from goat’s milk mixed with cow’s cream. The best of both worlds! When you slice into it, the white mold exterior (typically edible, by the way) reveals this super creamy yellow interior.

ctmy86-kunik on bunny breadThen, you slather that onto a cracker, a piece of bread, or just spoon it up and stick it straight into your mouth. Mmm! This cheese does not disappoint. I took my wheel to work and shared it with the ever-eager-to-join-me-in-cheese-feasting Perlagrigia. She was an immediate convert. No surprise there. We continued sampling it for several days this week.

ctmy85-kunik on a crackerOne caveat I will give about this dear lady. Do not wait too long to enjoy her. She ripens quickly and when she does–pow!–she can go from a delicate, aromatic flower to the dreadlocked, deodorant-phobic hippie on the corner and then, well, it can be a little painful to sample her. Trust me.

So, look for a wheel (maybe start with one of the mini ones) that has a sell-by date with about a month to go, find some nice accompaniments, and get to smearing and mmming: the sooner, the better. You won’t be disappointed. She’s my Queen and she’s earned that prestigious honor rightly so.

 

 

 

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Did someone say truffle?

I owe my love of all things truffle to Stilton. I can’t put my finger on exactly when she introduced me to truffles and their oil, but for the past 5 years at least, I can’t pass up truffle fries or a pizza with truffle oil on it. Recently I was on the hunt for a Dutch cheese, but when I spotted this Brie with bits of truffle in it, my decision was made.                                                                                      

Brie on side

If you love cheese, then you have surely tasted Brie: a cow’s milk cheese named after the region in France where it was originally created. Its satisfying texture and mild taste make it a very go-to cheese for any plate or picnic. It’s important to eat Brie (and all cheeses!) at room temperature – the flavor will be much more potent and who doesn’t want that just slightly gooey goodness introducing itself to all of your tastebuds?

Photo Apr 23, 16 06 32This truffle brie was very good (from my neighborhood Fromagerie), with the truffle flavor being very subtle. Looking back at my pictures and researching other Bries online, I think the middle layer might have been truffles mixed with mascarpone, but I didn’t notice that while eating it. A cheese well-worth trying! Next time I’m planning on pairing it with something sparkly (drink-wise) and seeing where things go from there.

 

 

The Cheese Traveler

I recently had to go on a business trip to the state capital, Albany. In my 10 years up here, I’d yet to visit it. New York is a moderately sized state; it’s pretty big compared to the tiny territories of New England, yet it’s no Alaska or Texas. The hotel where I stayed was an amusing hybrid of late 80s/early 90s Laura Ashley style decor mixed with Colonial Williamsburg! I kid you not.

The luncheon served there as part of my conference was deplorable, most especially because they only served one option to the vegetarians and vegans, which meant there was no cheese, not even on the side, and actually there was no real protein at all.

Thus, on my way back south, the pit stop I planned was all the more important. Of course, being a certified turophile, I had researched (hello, Yelp!) cheese-friendly establishments in the greater Albany area. I immediately fell for the name of the shop because I would indeed be travelling to get to their cheese! Visiting here also meant that I could neatly skirt around Friday afternoon traffic by slightly delaying my departure.

The Cheese Traveler is located in DelSo, a neighborhood-in-transition southwest of the downtown. Regentrification was a mild scent in the air, but there was still an edgy feel to the area. I’m sure if I come back in 5 or 10 years, I won’t recognize it, though perhaps this shop and café will have taken over the space of the local supermarket by then!

The shop sells more than just cheese, though that’s obviously its main fare. They have local bread and meat, as well as lots of fancy condiments to go along, and an ample selection of craft beers and other sundry items. A couple of different samples are generally on offer and the cheesemonger is happy to offer individual tastes as well.

Since I had a 2-3 hour drive before me, I had to skip the beer and I also hadn’t thought to bring an insulated carrier, so I decided to just try one of their gourmet grilled cheese options. If Jarlsberg had been my travelling companion, I’m sure she would’ve selected the Traditional as it featured her beloved Comté. While it was tempting, I decided to try the Farmer’s with Dubliner’s Cheddar, chutney, and red onion (which I don’t usually like, but it was finely chopped, so perfectly tolerable).

I wish I could say it was the most amazing grilled cheese I’d ever had, but unfortunately, it was just the wrong side of the fine line between extra crispy and burnt. I guess the chatty cheesemonger forgot about it for five seconds too long. It wasn’t terrible, but the burnt flavor overwhelmed the sandwich, in spite of its ooey-gooey middle (see above).

In spite of this experience, I would go back and next time, I’d just hope, perhaps request, that they not leave my sammie in the press overlong. The shop also had some delightful French sea salt caramels that had been soaked in wine, I think; they were subtle at first taste, but then really packed a deliciously boozy punch towards the end. I’d definitely get those again.. they alone were worth the 5 hour journey there and back! So, Cheese Traveler, perhaps I will be travelling back to Albany sooner than later to visit you for cheese & more.