As an indiscriminate media zealot and avid snack lover, nothing pleases me more than the mash-up of food and pop culture. For this week’s Tasting Tuesday at culture, I thought it would be fun to play director, imagining some of this year’s Oscar nominees in the role of a lifetime, as one of Point Reyes’ amazing cheeses. Here are a few of my picks to invite for a (snack) session on the casting couch.
Ah, bliss... This blue cheese never required much tweaking, but the third offering simply can't be improved-- a creamy yet firm ivory base, grainy rather than pasty blue veins, and tasting of the earth itself: rich grasses, the salty tang of an ocean breeze, and strong, sharp spicy notes.
My biggest challenge this time was what to do with this little treasure. I decided to take samples to wine tasting rooms and other appropriate businesses here in Old Town Cottonwood and get pairing suggestions. Kevin Grubb , the sommelier of The Stronghold Tasting Room, sampled the cheese and without hesitation, suggested "Short and Sweet," a sparkling muscat from nearby Page Springs Winery. I must say, the lad knows his stuff.
I was pretty excited when I got to taste a cheese in development by Point Reyes a few months ago. When I found out that a new wedge was on its way, I was twice as excited. And then the lovely wedge arrived. Can I admit that we ate a whole lot of this cheese when it first arrived? A whole lot. I won't say half, but it was major carnage. The last cheese was fairly mild and creamy with an ammonia-sharpness near the rind.
It was Christmas in August when I received my Tomme from Point Reyes Farmstead in the mail. It is a hard cheese, not usually one of my favorite kinds of cheese but when paired with the suggested scotch (not a scotch fan, but the cheese made it very tasty, indeed), we found doing the research a real pleasure. My wing man (also known as the husband) and I had no trouble enjoying our task. Although this is a much milder cheese than the blues, the Tomme has its place in gastronomy. We liked the subtle after-bite when savored with a red wine. The crystals in the cheese definitely gave this cheese an extra zing. It was my favorite part of the cheese.
Cheesemonger Ray Bair, of San Francisco's Cheese Plus, puts out an occaisional newsletter for customers and fans of his wonderful shop. His most recent note caught our eye: besides featuring a great roundup of NYC-area cheese shops, he also described his visit to Marcia Barinaga, maker of our fall centerfold, Baserri. He graciously allowed us to reprint it here:
A Tale of 2 Thursdays, part 2
Back home in San Francisco, my niece Stefanie is visiting from Arizona. Still jazzed from my fast tour of Manhattan specialty food stores, I arrange for a tour of Barinaga Ranch near Point Reyes while she is visiting. Coincidentally, it's the following Thursday.
My name is Robin Berger, you can find out more about me and what I like to cook on my food blog: http://blog.hippoflambe.com
I've been thinking about pizza lately. We don't give it a lot of coverage in the magazine, which is strange as it's one of the three great American cheese-foods. Along with grilled cheese and mac 'n whatever, it demonstrates a very simple formula: starch + salt + fat = dinner.
Because pizza is ubiquitous (especially as children's fare), everyone has their own opinion on what makes a good slice. Preferences are typically formed early and harden into obstinacy during the college years, when exposure to out-of-state pizza combines with economic necessity to make students into connoisseurs. This is a good thing, in my opinion. Although everyone else is wrong, especially New Yorkers, it's our differences that create the rich tomato-and-cheese tapestry that is America.
Yesterday, I attended my second event with Culture: The California Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma, California, what a fabulous event it was.
My eyes were overwhelmed by the selection of cheeses on display. There were towering cliffs of delicious blue from Point Reyes, brand new Wagon Wheel melting cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery, award-winning cheddars from Fiscalini, plenty of creamy goat cheeses from Laura Chenel and of course so much more.
Amongst the stunning array of fine cheeses, I came across some remarkable new finds. Goat milk fudge, wine infused cookies, olive oil chocolate, peanut butter sandwich cookies, mini lemon meringue pies, exclusive olive oils, bacon bread, an exciting new product called “glop” (made from a selection of oils and cheeses), and I was thrilled about bumping into a familiar item that I fell in love with at Cochon 555 – my beloved toffee bacon lollipop! (I bagged myself three little piggies! Does this make me a big piggie?!)