Sweet pockets of soft fig dot this bread, making it a great partner with hard, salty cheeses such as aged pecorino and a selection of charcuterie, including silky prosciutto. I like to serve it cut into individual squares to frame whatever I’m serving with it.
Rehydrate the figs by soaking them in hot water for about 20 minutes; drain. Cut off the stems, and chop coarsely.
A honey sommelier shares tips for savoring the sweet stuff
It was my first taste of honey directly from a beehive that changed everything. The freshness and complexity of its flavor turned me almost instantly into a beekeeper, and before long I was passionate about honey, especially its sensory parallels with wine. My enthusiasm took me to Tuscany, where I discovered the formal practice of tasting and evaluating honey—practically unheard of in the States. So began my vocation as a honey sommelier.
This autumnal quick bread is rich with flavor. The yams add a slightly sweet note and lots of moisture, and the smoky, spiced pepitas are reminiscent of a campfire. A perfect pairing would be spreadable tangy goat’s milk cheese.
Q: What are cheese mites? Can I eat them? A: Mites are a common visitor to many a cool, damp cheese cave. Although the creatures themselves are barely visible to the naked eye, evidence of their presence is hard to miss, from the pitted and pock-marked surface of the cheese they inhabit to the thick tan dust and musky scent they leave behind on cellar surfaces. Mites are generally considered a nuisance for cheesemakers, because they will destroy natural-rind cheeses if left unchecked—especially drier and older cheeses, which seem to be their favorites. Although many cheesemakers daily brush and wash their wheels to prevent damage from mites, there are many affineurs who believe mites can improve a cheese. In France there’s even a tradition to celebrate the evidence of cheese mites in a new aging cave because it signals that the environment is right for maturing cheese.
Next to the po’boys and beignets, artisan cheese finds a following in New Orleans
A sultry, vibrant place on the muddy banks of the Mississippi River, New Orleans is unique among American cities because of its Creole culture and tradition, which predate anything considered colonial America. As a local, I see how that early Creole foundation continues to define New Orleans’s own way of doing things. Whether it’s our cuisine, our music, the way we talk, or even the way we make Creole Cream Cheese, New Orleans is a place to find something truly unique in a world that is quickly becoming homogenized.
This wholesome loaf is based on a French recipe for walnut bread, pain aux noix. Traditionally it is paired with Roquefort, but the addition of porter makes this dense, tangy loaf even more cheese friendly. I also like a caramelly aged Gouda with it. Halve the recipe to make one loaf, or tightly wrap and freeze the extra one if you don’t plan on eating it in a couple of days. (That said, if allowed to go stale, this bread also makes amazing croutons.)
Watch a slideshow of Culture intern Austin Banach making this recipe
As seen in our summer 2011 issue:
"In Wisconsin, store-bought cheese curds (a.k.a. “squeaky cheese”) are a beer’s best friend. Locals hardly ever have one without the other. In honor of this regional pairing, just right for summer, here are a few facts about the squeaky specialty:
These fresh-from-the-vat mild cheddar morsels (each about the size of an unshelled peanut) are created immediately after the whey is drained during cheesemaking but before the curds are pressed and aged. Freshness is essential for the oddly shaped chunks of chewy cheese to have an actual squeak when bitten into because the sound is created by air trapped in the curds.
Cypress Grove founder Mary Keehn is interviewed by Culture's editor, Elaine Khosrova:
In the late ’60s, my husband and I were living in a barn in Sonoma, next to a cow dairy where they kept wild goats for brush control. I asked the woman next door if I could buy a goat. She said, “Honey, if you can catch one, you can have it.” So every day I put out some grain for goats. Eventually, I was able to grab their horns to catch them. Those were my first goats—Hazel and Esmerelda.
After we got those goats, we moved to 80 acres in southern Humboldt and built a cabin out of logs we dragged out of the woods with a horse. We were serious hippies. We got our water from the spring. If you wanted hot water, it came from a black pipe in the sun. There was no electricity.