Bazaar's Frozen Blue Cheese Sandwich

Bazaar’s Frozen Blue Cheese Sandwich

Frozen Blue Cheese Sandwiches

Last night Dave and I had dinner at Jose Andres’ restaurant, Bazaar, at the SLS Hotel in Miami Beach. This inventive dish was a stand-out.

Those are slabs of ice cold Valdeon blue cheese (cow and goat’s milk) topped with lemon marmalade and sandwiched between thin slices of crispy walnut bread. A truly unique way to end a meal.

Bazaar, 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-455-2999

Haystack Mountain Sunlight

Super Bowl Cheese & Beer Pairings

I went to my first Super Bowl party when I was a sophomore in high school. I had no clue what was happening on the field but I liked the commercials and loved the food. I have always been a sucker for a party sub and a giant tub of Doritos.

(A quick warning to parents out there: if you deprive your kid of all junk food and enforce a strictly organic meal plan, chances are good that you won’t end up with a quinoa addict. All of my mother’s good intentions created me — a kid with a major potato-chip habit who sat with the snack bowl in her lap at elementary school sleep-overs. But I digress. Back to the point of this post.)

The annual party where I now watch the big game still features a sub, though in a grown-up version — homemade, with gourmet fixings. The hosts also started a very cool tradition of serving craft beers brewed in each team’s home state. In keeping with that idea, I decided to pair up some Colorado- and Washington-made cheeses and beers.

Colorado: Haystack Mountain Sunlight and Avery White Rascal

Colorado Cheese & Beer Pairing

Sunlight is a semi-firm, raw, goat’s milk cheese made in Longmont, Colo., by Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy. The cheese is aged for at least 60 days, with a sticky, orange washed rind and a somewhat springy-textured paste. It’s not nearly as funky as some well-known washed rind cheeses — like Epoisses. Sunlight is creamy and mildly sweet, with a lightly tangy hit at the end.Avery India Pale Ale

I thought the cheese would pair well with a floral IPA, so I chose Boulder-based Avery Brewing Co.’s India Pale Ale.

I expected the bitterness of the hops to balance the creaminess of the cheese. But while my panel of tasters — aka some adventurous friends — really liked the beer (which isn’t overwhelmingly hoppy), they thought it overpowered the cheese.Avery White Rascal

Instead, they preferred the Sunlight paired with Avery’s White Rascal, a Belgian-style white ale. It’s an unfiltered beer, spiced with coriander and orange peel.

If you decide to test out these pairings (which I picked up at my local Whole Foods), let me know which you like best.

 

 

Washington: Beecher’s Flagsheep and Elysian Split Shot Stout

Washington Cheese & Beer Pairing

Flagsheep is a pasteurized, mixed-milk, clothbound cheddar produced by Seattle-based Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. (I cheated a little on this one because while the cheese is made in the Seahawks’ hometown, it’s also produced at the company’s NYC location. But it’s delicious and I think it counts.)

Beecher's Flagsheep

The name is a riff on Beecher’s more traditional Flagship cow’s milk cheddar, since Flagsheep’s twist is the addition of sheep’s milk. It is aged about 18 months, resulting in a firm and flavorful cheese with a taste of caramel.

Elysian Split Shot Stout

To stand up to Flagsheep’s bold flavor, I chose a brawny beer — Split Shot Stout from Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company.

It’s an espresso milk stout brewed with Stumptown coffee, a roaster based in Portland and popular in both the Pacific Northwest and here in NYC. While the beer smells like an alcoholic espresso, the flavor includes notes of chocolate. It basically tastes like a chocolate-covered espresso bean. Cheddars and stouts typically pair well together and this Washington match is no exception.

If you want to try this pairing, the beer is available at Whole Foods and the cheese is sold at Beecher’s.

Beecher’s, 900 Broadway, 212-466-3340

(My Super Bowl coverage isn’t yet complete. Check back Saturday for an easy, cheesy dip perfect for game-watching.)

Fish Sticks Are Made Of Cheese

Get These Kids To A Farm

It makes me feel old to say “kids these days…” But kids these days apparently need to be taken to a farm to learn that cheese doesn’t grow on trees. Seriously.

The U.K.’s Daily Mirror reports that supermarket giant Tesco is launching a program to show kids where their food comes from after research found that more than a few British schoolchildren think ketchup counts as a vegetable and that cheese grows on plants. Meanwhile, one in five kids under age 11 thinks chicken is the main ingredient in fish sticks, the tabloid says.

The story, which you can get here, is a scary indicator that there could be a whole generation of children who grow up to be Jessica Simpson. If you are too highbrow to get that reference — and I wish I were — just google her name and “Chicken of the Sea.”

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese

Pancetta Crisps With Goat Cheese And Pear

When Dave and I first moved in together, our tiny kitchen had roughly three feet of prep space — and that included a cutting board balanced precariously over the sink. It also had an oven so small that we could only fit a half-sized baking sheet. It’s a good thing I don’t like turkey, because all we could have roasted for Thanksgiving was a cornish hen.  I absolutely loved that apartment.

We’ve since moved into bigger digs, but the need to keep food prep simple is still well ingrained in me. That’s why I was so impressed with this appetizer that my sister made for her recent housewarming party.

The Bon Appetit recipe calls for a mere four ingredients:

  • Sliced pancetta (basically Italian bacon)
  • Goat cheese
  • Slices of ripe pear
  • Thyme

You can get the full recipe here, but it basically involves baking the pancetta for 10 minutes and then topping it with the remaining three ingredients.

If the pancetta slices fall apart when you remove them from the package, like Alex’s did, make a spiral shape when laying them on the baking sheet and tuck the loose end underneath. This will create more of a pancetta cup than a crisp.

Cookie Dough Scooper

Also, if you have a mini ice cream or cookie dough scoop, I recommend using that to arrange the goat cheese on top. It’s easier to release and provides a more uniform ball than a teaspoon.

It took no longer than 15 minutes to bake and assemble an entire platter of these apps, which was good, because it took about 5 seconds for the little guys to disappear. Case in point: I tried snapping a picture but in the time it took me to turn on my camera, three were already missing.

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese

Wooden Goat

Wooden Goat

  • Milk Type: Raw goat
  • Style: Washed rind, semi-soft
  • Made in: Switzerland
  • Purchased at: Eataly
  • Price: $45.80/lb

I’ve never licked a goat. I don’t think most people have. But that’s what it felt like I was doing when I first tried this cheese. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad or off-putting taste. It was just highly unusual.

I found the cheese at Mario Batali’s Italian mega-market, Eataly. I had had a couple of glasses of wine at lunch and was feeling a bit adventurous. When I asked the cheesemonger for his most unique offering, he gave me Holzige Geiss (or Wooden Goat). It’s a raw goat’s milk cheese made in Switzerland and wrapped in, you guessed it, a band of wood. More specifically, fir bark.

 

Wooden Goat

 

At a whopping $45.80/lb, it’s the most expensive cheese I’ve ever purchased and inspired quite a bit of sticker shock. The wine helped to dull that feeling.

I’ve read other impressions of the cheese in which the tasters didn’t find it particularly goat-y. That was not the case for me. I thought it had an especially pungent barnyard smell and an earthy taste with a robust hit of goatiness (I’m not sure that’s a word but it’s the best way I can think to describe it.)

If strong odors make you squeamish, this is not the cheese for you. But if you’re looking for something truly unique (and perhaps have an expense account), it’s certainly worth a try.

Cheddar Popcorn

The Best Cheese Popcorn Ever

As an avid fan of both cheese and popcorn, I’ve tasted a not-so-small amount of orange colored kernels. Most are powdery and flavorless.

Garrett Popcorn’s cheese corn is the real stand-out. It’s my hands-down absolute favorite guilty-pleasure treat. I’ve even asked for it for Christmas — and might have, just once, told Dave that he better not come home from his business trip to Chicago if he wasn’t carrying a bag of the stuff. (I don’t know what they put in it, but it actually makes me crazy.)

The popcorn is buttery and cheesy and will stain your fingers bright orange for days. Just looking at the photo makes me feel five pounds heavier. But hey, sometimes you just have to throw caution and calorie-counting to the wind.

Garrett now has outposts in New York and Las Vegas in addition to several locations in Chicago, where it started. I’ll be honest, visiting its store in the shabby shadow of Penn Station just isn’t as exciting as lining up with other popcorn enthusiasts on Michigan Avenue. But in this weather, it’s nice to not even have to leave my couch. They ship.

(NOTE: Even though this post sounds like an infomercial, I am not being paid by Garrett. If the company does do paid endorsements however, I will accept payment in cheese corn.)