The Real Deal with Nacho Cheeze

DCIM100MEDIAWe’ve all been there, standing in line at a Yankee’s game, shelling out $36 for 3.5 ounces of beer, when hunger pangs strike. You look around and assess your options. Emulsified pork-in-a-tube that’s been wading in tepid water since the summer of  `87. No thanks, I’ll pass.

Then it hits you: nachos! Boom, everything is good again. Your mouth waters as the concession stand worker pumps that sweet, sweet yellow nectar all over the tortilla chips. (If I could create a GIF of those magical 13 seconds, and have it eternally loop in my head, I would happily trade away my first born.)

But there’s that nagging question, the one we do everything we can to avoid: “Is that stuff REALLY cheese?” As quick is the thought appears, it’s deflected and stored in that special little corner of our brain that houses all of our poor food choice decisions. But the truth is, that nacho sauce that’s pumped out of a tub, or the stuff that comes spewing out of aerosol cans is cheese in the same sense that margarine is butter.

The mythological story (courtesy of Bloomberg) of nachos is a fellow down in Mexico named Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya needed to feed some American tourists. He reached for a wheel of Wisconsin cheddar, grated it on top of some tortillas, and plopped on some jalapenos. Today, many of the commercial available nacho cheese dips, spreads, and  goos might be flavored with cheddar, but contain such lovely emulsifying, hydrogenating, and stabilizing ingredients like modified tapioca starch, maltodextrin, and sodium stearoyl (YUM!). And while the FDA has many classifications of cheese manufactured in the United States, “nacho” seems to be left off the list. This means that nacho cheese can really be whatever you want it to be, and food companies can slap the word “nacho” on any old cheese flavored product they feel like. It’s marketing, y’all!

So now, approaching Super Bowl Sunday, we’re offering a recipe (adapted from The Foodie Affair) for some high-brow nachos for game day. Because while the goopy yellow “cheeze” has a soft spot in our hearts, we’re real cheese people, thankyouverymuch.

Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add onion and sauté until fragrant and soft. Add garlic and blend into onions.
  2. Add flour to the onion mixture, stirring for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is thick. Add milk and begin adding cheese one cup at a time. Stir until melted and warm (approximately 5 minutes).

Cheese, Beer, and the Super Bowl: Murray’s Guide to Doing it Right

beer!

By John David Ryan, Field Merchandiser and Beer Connoisseur Extraordinaire 

It’s that time of year: Super Bowl season! We’re all talking about things like: what are Russell Wilson’s chances of leading his team to a repeat victory? What will we serve for game day snacks? Who will have the best commercials? Will the halftime show be as terrible as it always is? And what kind of Uggs will Tom Brady be wearing at the post-game press conference? These are important details—I must know!

 Cheddar & IPA

If you’re like the rest of the cool kids, then you probably drink IPAs and talk about how much you appreciate a fresh, hoppy beer with intense notes of citrus and pine. But seriously: it’s hard to beat a well-made India Pale Ale. Known for starting the American craft beer craze, these West Coast originals aren’t necessarily a beginner-friendly beer, but are probably the most widely enjoyed ale. And they’re made for pairing. Try one with a clothbound cheddar. The crumbly, acidic cheese holds its own against the bitter beer.

Beer suggestions: Ithaca Flower Power, Ballast Point Sculpin, Dogfish Head 60 Minute

Gouda & Stout

Gouda is that fun friend who we all want to show up to our party because they make it so much better. Plus, Gouda comes lots of different ways: creamy, smoked, aged, with caraway seeds, etc. I prefer an aged gouda. It’s full of crystals! Delicious, crunchy tyrosine crystals (that’s an amino acid), which typically form within cheeses that have been aged over a year. It’ll be drier, with hints of caramel, salt and butterscotch. For that reason, you need some sweetness to balance it out. Go with a big stout—something with a lot of roasty, chocolate flavors. (Don’t be afraid to add some honey to the equation if you like it really sweet.) Think of it as a boozy chocolate sea salt caramel truffle—your party guests will be amazed.

 Beer Suggestions: Alesmith Speedway, North Coast Old Rasputin, Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout

Brie & Belgian Pale Ale

It’s hard not to love a double or triple crème brie. The decadent, buttery paste just melts in your mouth. But you need something with bubbles to help cleanse your palate of all of that goodness. Traditionally, you’d pop open a bottle of champagne—but who brings Moet & Chandon to a football party? Grab a Belgian pale or golden ale—something with a cork and cage on top like champagne. It lets you know that it’s been bottle fermented and will give you lots of bubbles, which is exactly what you want with a creamy cheese like this.

Beer Suggestions: Brooklyn Local 1, Ommegang BPA, Brassiere d’Achouffe La Chouffe

Blue & Barleywine

Blue cheese can be intimidating. Heck: its got blue mold throughout the paste. But it becomes a magical food when you properly pair it. For starters, get a younger, creamier blue like Cambozola Black Label or Chiriboga or even Stilton. Then crack open a barleywine—a big ale with a ton of malty sweetness. You’ll taste toffee, dark fruits, molasses and caramel—but watch out! Because of the amount of grain used in making a barleywine, they’re typically higher in alcohol. So if Uncle Larry has a foul mouth and gets loud after a few brews, maybe steer him away from this one.

Beer Suggestions: Central Waters Kosmyk Charlie’s Y2K, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Stone Old Guardian

Alpine & Brown

When I think of paradise, it often involves a herd of cows with bells on their necks, lush pastures, snow-capped mountains, and a smelly shepherd with one of those long, curved sticks…or a beach in the Caribbean. I mean, they’ve got fruity drinks with umbrellas there, but they don’t have Alpine cheeses. Most Alpines are still made by traditional methods and are regulated to insure they are of the highest quality. But when I want a fantastic nutty Alpine cheese, I dream of Comte. I reach for Gruyere. I covet a pound of Appenzeller…and something to wash it down with it. For that, you’ll need a brown ale. Just like Alpine cheeses, brown ales are slightly sweet, nutty, and thoroughly enjoyable by everyone. They are an easy pairing that everyone at your party will love. Then too, if you have leftovers, you can always whip up some fondue!

 Beer Suggestions: Anchor Brekle’s Brown, Bells Best Brown, Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

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Pimento Cheese That’s Sure to Please

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Y’all, sometimes there ain’t nothin’ better than a big ol’ dollop of pimento cheese on a nice hearty cracker. We love this stuff because it’s easy to make, and it gets gobbled up at any gathering. Alternatively, it makes for excellent snacking for those solo nights at home binge watching Netflix. Channel your inner Paula Deen, and give this Murray’s recipe a try to put a lil’ South in your mouth!

pimento_blogIngredients:

½ lb Tickler Cheddar, shredded
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup Greek-style yogurt
¼ cup Peppadews, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Fold all ingredients together in a mixing bowl until well incorporated.
2. Enjoy with crackers, baguette or your favorite raw vegetables.

 

A World Of Cheese

We know that the world of cheese can be pretty daunting: so many different styles and types, not to mention different countries of origin. This nifty map from Smithsonian  is an amazing tool to help discover the world of cheese, for novice and curd nerds alike! While it’s no surprise that France is the largest consumer of cheese, did you know that the US is by far the largest producer!? In Mauritania, Camel cheese is all the rage, while in the Philippines, fresh Buffalo milk is the curd of choice. You learn something new every day!

Via Smithsonian Magazine 

A Whey Better Hangover Cure

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We’ve all been there, keeled over in a pool of our own regret, shame, and poor decisions. A debaucherous lifestyle comes with a hefty price tag. Working in the cheese biz, we’ve known for a long time that a little hunk of queso can do wonders for the wrath of the worst hangover, and the fine folks at Vice explain why cheese makes such a great hangover cure:

Cheese is filled with all kinds of great things: calcium, enzymes, protein; it has the incredible property to coat things, so it soothes your tummy. Cheese is made of milk, and milk is good for you (it helps strengthen your bones and all that jazz). Good quality dairy comes from happy animals whose rich, liquid lovin’ is the base of the best stuff out there. Cows give forth some incredibly buttery and sweet milk, so cheese developed from cow’s milk can become all nutty and caramel-y. Think aged Gruyere or Comté. Goats have that lush, tangy, slightly barny milk that can develop into a rich, petting-zoo-esque floral creation like the famed Crottin or St. Maure. Sheep have the fattiest and flintiest milk out there and can create some great, wooly, slightly floral treats like the incredible Abbaye de Belloc or Ossau Iraty. Buffalo give forth a yogurt-y, tangy, ultra fatty milk that screams to be pulled out into some fresh mozzarella, all creamy and seductive.

So, next Saturday morning when you’re trying to piece together the long string of mistakes you made the night before, get down to Murray’s and grab yourself a wedge. We get it, you’re hungover…we probably are, too.

Via Vice