Mets Star Declares Cheese Love

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

 

When I was in high school, I read an interview in Cosmopolitan magazine with a model who said something to the effect of “I’m very careful about what I eat. You would never ever find brie in my refrigerator.” I still remember it clearly because it completely horrified the 14-year-old me. Was she implying that I shouldn’t eat brie if I wanted to be thin? And were there people in the world who actually believed that malarkey?

It still irks me when celebrities make disparaging comments about cheese being the gateway drug to obesity. Everything in moderation, people. A little brie won’t do you in. Just look at the svelte yet cheese-adoring French. But I digress. The whole point of this post is to say that I really respect a public declaration of cheese love. They are just too few and far between.

That’s why I was so pleased to see New York Mets star pitcher (well, currently-recovering-from-surgery star pitcher) Matt Harvey tell the world — via The New York Times — that he can’t live without cheese.

In last weekend’s edition, he detailed how he eats healthy, exercises and still enjoys mass quantities of dairy.

“Cheese is my favorite food of all time,” the newspaper quoted the pitcher as saying. “I spend more on cheese at Whole Foods than all my other groceries combined. It’s a disgusting habit.”

It’s unclear to me whether he’s calling the amount of cash he blows on cheese disgusting or if he’s referring to the amount he’s eating. Either way, not disgusting, Matt. I don’t see a single thing wrong with either.

Click here for the Times’ full article.

GranQueso

Gran Queso

  • Milk type: Pasteurized cow
  • Style: Semi-firm
  • Made in: Wisconsin
  • Purchased at: Union Market
  • Price: $13.99/lb
  • Try pairing with: Tempranillo

The Monroe, Wisconsin dairy that makes GranQueso says it was inspired by Spanish cheese. It must be loose inspiration, cause the only thing that seems Spanish to me is its name. No matter. They could use Justin Bieber as a muse and this cheese would still have a place in my kitchen.

GranQueso, produced by Emmi Roth USA, is made with pasteurized cow’s milk, giving it a golden ivory paste. Its basket-weave rind is rubbed with a blend of spices including cinnamon and paprika, resulting in an attractive reddish-orange color, but little influence on the actual taste of the cheese.

GranQueso Basketweave Rind

The cheese has a dense, nutty flavor that’s also salty, with a bit of tang. Let it sit out a while and you’ll see that it weeps little droplets of fat, giving it a nice oily sheen. GranQueso is a terrific table cheese, easily eaten by itself. If you’d like to provide an accompaniment, this cheese could benefit from a little dab of quince paste.

When pairing with wine, I’d suggest a full-bodied red, like a Spanish Tempranillo. But if beer is more your style, the cheesemaker advocates going with a wheat beer or hard cider. Both sound great to me for a picnic as the weather finally gets warmer.

North Korea Rejected By French Cheese School

Emmental
ALAMY via The Telegraph

It looks like North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is stuck with subpar Swiss cheese.

A French cheese-making school has refused North Korea’s request to teach three envoys how to make high-quality Emmental, a cheese Kim Jong-un is said to have developed a taste for while studying in Switzerland, reports The Telegraph.

Véronique Drouet, the director of the National Dairy Industry College, said “such a partnership does not fit into our priorities and strategy,” according to the U.K. newspaper.

Click here for The Telegraph’s full story.

Cheese Board

A Dinner Party Cheese Board

Last month I wrote about how I was going to focus on putting effort into cheese presentation rather than slinging a few hunks on a board and calling it a day. I haven’t completely cleaned up my act yet, but I think this arrangement for a recent dinner party hosted by my sister turned out pretty well.

Here’s what’s on the board (clockwise from the top):

Cheese Board

  • Vermont Creamery Bonne Bouche — goat’s milk

(That beautiful color comes from soft ripening with tree ash.)

  • The Savannah Bee Company Cheese Honey

(My current go-to honey.)

  • Lazy Lady Farm Oh My Heart — cow’s milk

(A Brie-style only available from Sept. through April.)

  • Raspberries
  • Cypress Grove Chèvre Lamb Chopper — sheep’s milk

(A mild cheese perfect for people who don’t think they like sheep’s milk cheese.)

  • Piave — cow’s milk

(Similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano but more of a table cheese. This is one of my favorites for pregnant women as it’s aged, pasteurized and delicious.)

  • English cheddar — cow’s milk

(Even the least adventurous eaters are willing to eat cheddar, so I always include one in every assortment I serve.)

Savannah Bee Company Cheese Honey

Cheese Honey

Dave and I hosted 11 people for Easter dinner yesterday. Like every dinner party I’ve ever held, I served a cheese board along with my other hors d’oeuvres.

Since we were having two types of deviled eggs, crab cakes and shrimp cocktail (in a bowl made out of ice!!), I kept the cheese assortment minimal — one cow’s milk, one sheep’s milk and one goat’s milk.

At the end of the night, one of the guests commented that the last time he came over, I had served honey alongside the cheese.

“Does honey not go well with these cheeses?” he asked me.

Why didn’t he speak up sooner? (When I put the cheese board on the table would have been a good time.) Blame the pregnancy brain: I forgot that people love honey. And I’ve found one that pairs well with a boatload of different cheeses: Savannah Bee Company’s Cheese Honey.

Honey can be a little tricky. You don’t want to overpower the flavor of a cheese with too much of it or one that’s too strong. The Savannah Bee Company product is specifically created to complement a wide assortment of cheese. This could be total bunk — a smart marketing ploy that completely ensnared me. If it is, I don’t care. I really like this honey.

I’ve tried it with cheeses ranging from goudas to blues to cheddars and it has always added to the flavor of the cheese rather than detracting from it. It’s not tooth-achingly sweet or too thick. Plus, it’s a tasty addition to Greek yogurt or stirred into tea. The company even suggests dipping a grilled cheese into it, but c’mon, doesn’t that seem a bit excessive?

I still like the drama and visual appeal of an entire honeycomb square presented on a giant cheese board. But for smaller plates or when serving just a few guests, this is the jar I’m currently reaching for.

Since there aren’t any stores near me that carry this particular product (although it’s pretty easy to find other Savannah Bee Company honeys), I order it online.

Savannah Bee Company Cheese Honey

A 12-ounce jar costs $12, while a pair of two mini 3-ounce jars cost $11. One of the little jars paired with a hunk of cheese or two would make a terrific hostess gift for a dinner party. Admittedly, the Cheese Honey costs a heck of a lot more than the plastic bear you’ll find on supermarket shelves. But there’s no comparison when it comes to taste.

5 Oz Factory

Big Cheesy Crowns NYC’s King of Sandwiches

Grilled cheese is my go-to comfort food. The only problem is that I’m usually still hungry after scarfing down the classic diner version — two slices of white bread with a piece of somewhat melty cheddar in the middle. That was definitely not the case when I rolled myself home from last weekend’s Big Cheesy grilled cheese cook-off.

There were six different restaurants competing with eight versions of some seriously creative grilled cheese oozing a bevy of high-quality ingredients. Diners were given unlimited samples of each sandwich and a ping pong ball to cast their vote for best creation.

This one was crowned the city’s best:

5 Oz Factory, The Meltdown

5 Oz. Factory’s “The Meltdown” consisted of Emmi Roth Smoked Provolone, Brie, Horseradish & Chive Havarti, Roasted Pencil Asparagus, Mushrooms, Basil and Horseradish Pesto.

The Meltdown was Dave’s personal favorite (although, being a Midwestern boy at heart, I think he was also swayed by the sheer niceness of 5 Oz. Factory’s Wisconsin-bred owner.) While I thought the horseradish gave the sandwich an unexpected and tasty kick, I cast my ballot for this one instead:

Van Horn Pimento Grilled Cheese

Van Horn’s sandwich of Pimento Cheese & Smoked Mushrooms on Caputo’s Sourdough.

It ended up coming in second place. The sandwich was simple yet outrageously delicious, and I gave the Brooklyn-based shop extra points for its golf-related theme. In case you missed my earlier post, the Masters tournament (which took place last weekend) is known for its pimento cheese sandwiches. Van Horn put a high-brow spin on the sandwich and a low-brow spin on its ballot box, both of which I appreciated:

Van Horn Voting

Among the other Big Cheesy contenders was this:

Croque Monsieur

La Maison du Croque Monsieur’s “Croque Monsieur,” featuring Mushroom Ragout, Bechamel, Provolone Cheese & Truffle Oil.

The shop also had a second offering on hand:

Croque Monsieur

A “Classic Croque Monsieur” consisting of Jambon de Paris, Bechamel & Raclette Cheese.

Both of these sandwiches were quite good but a little too run-of-the-mill when compared to the assortment of unique ingredients used by other shops.

For instance, check out this specimen from Alex Mitow’s All American Diner:

Challah Atcha Boy

“Challah Atcha Boy” had Garlic Buttered Challah with Nueske Bacon, Navel Pastrami, Aged Cheddar, Fontina, Chipotle Apple Aioli and Deli-Style Potato Chips.

And this one from MeltKraft:

Melt Kraft Melter Skelter

“Melter Skelter” featured Valley Sheperd Creamery Melter Skelter Raclette-style Cheese, Pickled Green Tomatoes, Jalapeño, BBQ Potato Chips and Watercress.

Murray’s Melts also put out two strong grilled cheeses:

Murray's - The Piccante Pig

“The Piccante Pig” held Pulled Pork, Black Beans, Pepperjack and Salsa Verde.

Murray's - The Peppa Jack

And a more simple sandwich, “The Peppa Jack,”  featured Pepperjack and Peppadews.

I’m a little grilled cheesed-out at the moment but I definitely plan to hit up several of these contenders’ shops to try their other creations once my melty sandwich coma wears off. Like, maybe tomorrow for lunch.