The Best of Frenemies: Red Wine & Triple Crème Cheese

Consider this a friendly PSA from your favorite cheesemongers: Just say “No!” to Bloomies and red wine!

We know how it is…you just brought home an amazing little creambomb from Murray’s and you want to dig in RIGHT AWAY, just after you pour yourself a bulbous glass of Barolo to sip on while you chow down. STOP. Put down the bottle and slowly step away from the counter. What you were about to do was the equivalent of tap dancing all over a patch of unsuspecting, happy little daisies. Big reds are full of flavor and cream-killing tannins–don’t get us wrong, we love ‘em, but there’s a time and a place, people. Or should we say, a TOMME and a place.  It’s best to pair your bloomies with complementary flavor profiles that won’t shout over their delicate notes. We have some tips to help you through this confusing time.

Delice de Bourgogne - Pasteurized Cow Milk, France

A tribute to small scale industrial French cheese-making, Delice de Bourgogne (Burgundy) is produced by Fromagerie Lincet. The pasteurized triple creme (75% butterfat – booyah) marries full-fat cow milk with fresh cream, producing an unapologetic rich, whipped delight. Unlike many straightforward triple-cremes, this one has a thin, pungent mold rind that imparts straw and mushroom aromas, complementing the buttery yellow, sweet cream interior. Sure it’s from Burgundy (just like the wine), but this is one instance where what grows together does NOT go together. A full-bodied red will decimate all those delicate flavors like a bull stampede through a chandelier factory. Play nice with white wine and bubbles instead!

Serving tip: It makes a dreamy brunch treat when served with fresh berry jam on baguette and a glass of champagne.

La Tur - Pasteurized Sheep, Goat & Cow Milk

Not all bloomies are mild and buttery. La Tur is a great example of a creamy cheese that has rich, full flavors, but that doesn’t mean you should go running to the Barberra aisle at your local wine shop. La Tur is runny and oozing around the perimeter with a moist, cakey, palette-coating paste; its flavor is earthy and full, with a lingering lactic tang. The effect is like ice cream served from a warm scoop: decadent and melting from the outside in. Barolo and other big reds will wash away all that richness without giving it a chance to work its magic on your palate.  And who wants to do a thing like that?

Serving tip: Always a hit at parties, serve this crowd-pleaser with fresh fruit, dried figs and Prosecco. An ideal regional pairing would be a sparkling Asti Spumante- effervescence will whisk away the richness while matching the mild acidity.

Go Big or Go Home: The BFFs

O.K. No need to dump your Barolo down the drain–now’s when we tell you what DOES go with bold reds. Phew!

If you want a soft cheese to serve with your favorite scene-stealing red, go for washed rinds like Epoisses, Hudson Red or C Local. These cheeses are washed in booze or brine as they age, so they grow up learning how to handle their liquor, so to speak. You can also delve into more aged sheep and mixed milk cheeses, which are inherently more intense flavor-wise.

 

 

Podda Classico – Pasteurized Sheep and Cow, Italy

Now were talking! Podda is rich, nutty and salty and strong enough to stand up to everything a Barolo can put out.  Sheep milk is naturally fattier, and as every chef knows, where there’s fat, the flavor isn’t far behind.  The gutsy flavor cuts through the red’s tannins and smooths everything out real nice like.  Podda is a wonderful pasteurized mix of cow and sheep milk  from the glorious island of Sardinia. Aged for almost one year, this cheese has a wonderful sweet, nutty flavor, a crumbly slightly crunchy texture, and a lingering tangy finish.

Ossau-Iraty Vielle – Raw Sheep, France

Ossau is the grand dame of the cheese world and everyone knows how granny likes her liquor.  The nutty, brothy, somewhat fish-saucy notes wafting out of a slice of Ossau pretty much dare red wine to bring it.  Like the Podda, the sheep milk helps mellow out the rough spots so all you get is bright, full flavor. Somebody break out the bottle of Nebbiolo!

Consider the Cheese Curd: A Spotlight On Consider Bardwell Farm

By Lizzie Roller

Three Times the Charm

Consider Stebbins Bardwell originally founded the farm in 1864, and the historic farm is Vermont’s oldest dairy co-op.  Of British decent, the farm made solely young block cheddar, but they made so much of it that direct rail lines had to be built to transport the cheese from the farm.  After the Great Depression, the farm was taken over by the Nelson Family, and was then known as the Nelsonville Cheese Company.  The current owners, Angela Miller and Rust Glover, took over in 2001 and began cheese-making shortly after, in 2004.  They are only the third-ever owners of the farm, and this year marks (concurrently) the farm’s 10th and 150th anniversary!

Playing Both Sides

The land that constitutes Consider Bardwell Farm is situated right on the border between Vermont and New York.  In fact, the section where the animals graze and the hay grows lies on the New York side, while the creamery is situated on the Vermont side, allowing the farm’s allegiance to both states.

Small Beginnings

In the beginning, the farm had just 8 goats.  Fast forward ten years, and they now boast over 120!  Goats are actually the only animals they keep themselves.  In order to make their cow milk cheeses, they partner with two neighboring farms that, combined, milk 40 Jersey cows.  Everyone must meet Consider Bardwell’s very strict guidelines for milk quality and animal care (their pastures are certified organic).  Their cheese production helps support and revitalize the local community, which is a welcome bonus, along with the wheels of great cheese they share with the rest of us.

Attention to Detail

Murray’s & CB’s collaboration: Barden Blue

At the farm and creamery they share the kitchen notion of “Do it nice or do it twice!”  For one, their animals are Animal Welfare Agency approved and graze on meticulously kept native grassland; their cheeses are all made with raw milk and in small batches; uniquely, they use a “mother culture” (similar to that of sourdough bread) to wash the wheels of Manchester, which then rely on ambient cultures native to their caves to achieve maximum ripeness; and finally, Pawlet started off as a natural rind cheese, but after a little experimentation, they discovered they preferred it as a washed rind.  The ten pound wheels are hand-washed three times per week—it increases the workload significantly, but the result is exceptionally delicious.

New Curds on the Block: Cloumage from Shy Brothers Farm

One Cheese. So Many Ways to Enjoy.

Let Us Introduce You to Cloumage®.

 by Shy Brothers Farm

 

Shy Brothers Farm is so excited to be introducing Cloumage® to the customers of Murray’s cheese shops in Kroger’s supermarkets and its NYC stores. Cloumage® is a versatile creamy fresh farmstead cheese, made with our own cow’s milk in scenic, coastal Westport, Massachusetts. Our cows have the luxury of enjoying acres of acres of lush grass seasoned by the sea air. The milk produced by these happy cows produces the unique flavor you’ll experience with Cloumage®. Creamy with a little tang.

 

What’s the best way to enjoy Cloumage®? That’s a difficult question because there are just SO many. Try “as is” with a little fig jam or herbs – it’s a nice way to start and truly enjoy the flavor and texture of the cheese. From there, sky’s the limit. Chefs have been using Cloumage® in both savory and sweet dishes, from pizza and salad toppings to cheesecakes and pies. Pastry chefs have been substituting half the butter in their recipes with Cloumage® with palette pleasing results.

 

Following are a few of our favorite recipes that are perfect for this time of year – Greek Tzatziki (condiment for burgers, chicken, dipping, etc), Cloumage® & Rosemary Stuffed Dates and Spaghetti Squash with Cloumage® Pesto. We’d love to hear how you enjoy Cloumage® and welcome your feedback!

 

For more recipes and to learn more about Shy Brothers Farm and Cloumage®, we invite you to visit our website.

 

 

Greek Tzatziki

 

Ingredients:

½ English cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise & seeds removed

1 clove garlic, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 cup of Cloumage®

juice of ½ lemon

1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

 

Puree cucumber in food processor

Add garlic, Cloumage®, dill and lemon juice and pulse until smooth

Season with salt and pepper to taste

 

Use as a condiment on burgers, with chicken, pork, lamb or as a dip for veggies or chips.

 

 

Cloumage® & Rosemary Stuffed Dates

 

Makes approximately 12 stuffed dates.

 

Ingredients:

12 dates (pits removed)

1/2 cup Cloumage®

1 tsp honey

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

pinch of smoked paprika

12 walnut pieces

 

Mix Cloumage®, honey, rosemary & paprika in a bowl.

Fill dates with Cloumage mixture.

Top each with a walnut piece

Sprinkle a little more smoked paprika on top.

 

 

Spaghetti Squash with Cloumage® Pesto

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

2 spaghetti squashes (or 1 lb pasta)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 cup fresh pesto

1 tub of Cloumage® (15 oz)

salt and pepper to taste

peas (optional)

 

For Spaghetti Squash:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and put halves on cookie cheese cut side up

Roast for 45 minutes or until you can easily pierce the flesh with a knife

Discard seeds and remove “spaghetti” with a fork

 

For Sauce:

Add olive oil to sauté pan over medium heat

Sauté garlic just until you can smell the garlic aroma

Warm pesto in the pan then whisk in Cloumage®

Add salt and pepper to taste

Toss spaghetti squash with sauce and peas and serve

The Milking: Straight Outta Comté, Part 2

By: Amanda Parker

The Montbéliarde is an elegant, pampered cow.  Covered in wide swaths of dappled chestnut brown and cream, she is the foundation of Comté, the source of the raw material that will, when transformed, become cheese.   She is cared for, fed, by farmers across this countryside, making her way gracefully through the bright landscape of the Jura Massif. 

The first step in the three-part chain of Comté, the dairy farm is crucial for the production of the best quality raw milk.  Under the set of regulations for the cheese’s Protected Designation of Origin that maintains the tradition and quality of the cheese—known here as the cahier des charges—a farm must provide an animal with the right environment that will make the best milk to be made into cheese.  In the Jura, this means that Montbéliarde cows, required by law to constitute 95% of the milk used for Comté, must have their own grazing area—1 hectare, to be precise, made up of the plants that make this region so full of biodiversity.  Under the cahier des charges, these lucky ladies can graze on pastures filled with grasses and flowers native to these high hills, part of the terroir that speaks itself in floral pops and verdant flavors of a wheel of Comté.

In the winter, and during especially dry summers, the cows will eat hay, dried from the spring and summer before and stacked high in bales in the barn.  Jean-François, our farmer friend at Villette-les-Dole, is especially proud of his hay.  He encourages us to climb a ladder and see!  See how the air circulates, the hay dries, la griffe (a large, scary-looking claw-like machine whose name seems to escape us all in English) distributes to the Montbéliardes, who graze now in the hot summer sun but line up in our imaginations during the chilly months, always choosing the same spot in the barn.  He grabs big handfuls of le foin and le regain, the first and second cuttings of grass for hay, and waves them under our noses, explaining the concentration of tall, waving stalks of grain in the first and the lower, buzz-cut of grasses and flowers in the second.  Jean-Francois’ son, Max, steps up and quietly, romantically, tell us that when they are cutting hay, the village smells of it, this foin and regain, and if you sleep with the windows open, you will dream of hay that night. 

High up in the Jura Mountains, now in the Doubs region—next to the Jura, and included in the designated area of Comté production—this landscape of dusty yellows and flat plains gives way to a second plateau.  Moving our way higher in altitude, the temperature has dropped and a new microclimate is immediately evident—broad pines surrounding wide, sloping fields brimming with some of the 576 grasses and wildflowers so engrained in the sense of this region’s terroir.  After a lunch of Comté fondue—more on that later!—and potato rösti, influenced by the Swiss border just a minute or two away, we walk the property of a classic chalet.  No cows are milked here, but Norbert practices the ancient art of shepherding—he is a berger, here in these hills to take care of a 60-head herd of local farms’ heifers between a year and a year and a half.   We tramp through hip-high waving grains and stop every few minutes to identify flowers in some pidgin French-English-botanical Latin language—gentian, whose roots Norbert carves into small, bitter bites for us to taste, the basis of the local liqueur,  daisies, local native orchids, clovers of all colors, small buttercups, native herbs.   

If this level of specificity seems, well, specific, it is.  Consider the result—raw milk, as it must be raw milk, held no more than 24 hours between milking and cheesemaking, teeming with microflora that will contribute to the vast array of flavors and aromas in a wheel of Comté.  Jean-Francois, clucking at our American pasteurization, explains “le Comté, il est fabriqué avec lait qui vit;”  Comté is made with living milk.  The French—and this story takes place, ironically, less than a kilometer away from the birthplace of Louis Pasteur—carry with them their microbial convictions, believing that the bacteria in the air, in the land, on the udders of the cows being milked, are the living, breathing foundation of great cheese.  A ladle of this morning’s raw milk makes us believers—a little sweet, like a wheat field in the sun, the dried grassiness of hay, and just a touch of clean animal—it’s the pure illustration of the land we walked and cows we (I) bumped heads with.  A drizzle of raw cream over a fruit tart is just insane.  Ridiculously indulgent, rich, so thick it seems almost cultured, like liquid crème fraiche.

From these hills and plains, cows and the people who tend them, comes milk, complex and ready for the next step in its journey to becoming a wheel of Comté—onward to the cheesemakers, the fruitieres that take this primordial liquid and transform it, into cheese. 

Straight Outta Comté: A Glimpse Into the Jura

By Amanda Parker

How much moo could a moo-cow moo, if a moo-cow could MOO MOO?

It’s June in eastern France, and I’m the outcast in a group of San Francisco-based food and wine journalists.  Upon arrival in Geneva, Switzerland, we immediately cross the border and begin the winding roads up, over the mountains, into the department of Franche-Comté, and more specifically, into the land of the Jura.   We are in the heart of the land of Comté, here to learn about this very specific and special cheese.

Those in the know speak about Comté with reverence, and, I’ve begun to realize, the rest of us maybe just don’t get it.  I certainly didn’t.  As someone whose knowledge of cheese is broad and horizontal, the idea of this level of concentrated focus on one cheese was, frankly, hard to understand.  How could any one cheese attract a following to the extent of Comté? 

I get it now.  This cheese isn’t just a cheese.  It’s history, of a people and of a land, and it represents a symbiotic relationship—brotherhood, really—that relies on each part of the cycle in order to move forward, and continue this cycle into the future.  The word that keeps coming up is solidarity, and it’s this idea of a shared purpose that unites farmer, cheesemaker, affineur, marketer, retailer—this love of a cheese that propels them together, shoulder to shoulder, in solidarité.

As I tromp through fields of tall, towering yellow buttercup-like flowers, grasses of all kinds, and purple clovers, I understand the diversity of this region and its deep, powerful sense of terroir.  As I follow a proud, aging cheesemaker and his next-generation cheesemaking son through a milking parlor, taste their raw milk, and eat a homemade cookie in their garden while sipping local sparkler Cremant du Jura, I understand the people and their pride.  As I watch the rigorous, constant process of turning milk to curd to cheese, I understand dedication.  And as I think of wheel upon wheel of this one, beloved cheese, sitting on shelf after shelf, being taken care of for month after month as it ages, I understand patience and the quest for perfection.

The magic of cheese is its ability to not only taste like the best thing we’ve put in our mouths, but also the way it transports us with one bite.  It’s the story that each wheel tells, of its origin and people and hard work it took to get it to us, and how knowing this story makes a bit even better.  I am fortunate to see it first hand, and will remember it when I share this with others.  As Max, a young guy about to inherit his father’s dairy farm, shared with us over cherries he climbed a tree to pick, with his mother and father listening quietly, “I hope when you return home, when you taste Comté, you will remember, and you will enjoy it even more.  You will remember being here.  That’s Comté.”

All of the Comte.