Archive for cheese

Numero Trois

Posted in Fancy Food Show with tags , , , on January 24, 2010 by massapeel
I’ve touched upon a drink and a sweet, fruity food, so now let’s turn to the savory…  cheese (which goes oh so well with the panetone discussed in the last post!).  While at the food show, there was an overwhelming abundance of cheese.  And, while I do love me some cheese, I have to admit that I am a wuss when it comes to particularly stinky runny cheeses…  French cheeses…  camenbert-type cheeses…

(As an aside, and then I promise to get back on point:  several years ago my husband and I were celebrating the purchase of our house with wine and cheese at a French café/restaurant — Ciboulette, for those of you C’ville folks.  Anyway, this place was owned by a French man who somehow acquired cheeses certainly banned by a multitude of USDA regulations.  During bottle #2, Andrew asked for a “chef’s choice” cheese, and arriving at our table was a soft rinded cheese wrapped in grape leaves and emitting a funk of monumental proportions.  But, we were on bottle #2, and thus, senses were slightly dulled.  Andrew scarfed the cheese appreciatively, but no amount of wine would get me to eat that stinky stuff (I do realize that this is somewhat sacrilegious in the world of cheese).  Since I would not partake, there were leftovers, Andrew wanted to take it home to savor the next day.  Needless to say, the next day, he opened the refrigerator and exclaimed “Dear God, there is something rotten in this fridge.”  No, dear…  that was the cheese that you ate!)

The Beehive Cheese Company's "Barely Buzzed"

Anyway, that was all precursor to the self-evident truth that I did not eat a ton of cheese while there.  There were the delicious parmesans, the stinky rind cheeses, the mozzarellas, and a bajillion types in between.  However, among those was a gem that I DID try (more than once!):  The Beehive Cheese Company‘s Barely Buzzed cheese.  This cheese is fabulous.  It is a cheddar-type cheese that has been rubbed, dusted, coated – whatever – with lavender and coffee.  Bizarre sounding, yes, but the result is a delight to the palate. 

According to the company’s website, www.beehivecheese.com:

“This is a full-bodied cheese with a nutty flavor and smooth texture. The cheese is hand rubbed with a Turkish grind of Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s (The Cheesemakers brother) “Beehive Blend”. The blend consists of a mix of South American, Central American, and Indonesian beans roasted to different styles. French Superior Lavendar buds are ground with the coffee and the mixture is diluted with oil to suspend the dry ingredients in the rub. The rub imparts notes of butterscotch and caramel which are prevalent near the rind, but find their way to the center of the cheese. The cheese is aged on Utah Blue Spruce aging racks in our humidity controlled caves, and moved to different temperature during the aging process to develop texture and flavor.”

Like I said, this cheese is really tasty, but don’t take my word for it, it has placed first in the Flavored Cheddar category of the  American Cheese Society Annual Competition for the past three years running, and has been recognized by cheesemongers nationwide – including Murray’s Cheese Shop (not only a mainstay in the cheese world, but also my cheese shop of choice while living in the West Village during law school years).  I am thrilled to have learned that it is actually sold in Charlottesville — I will definitely be getting some soon!

The Beehive Cheese Company's "Seahive" - another cheese, this time rubbed in sea salt and honey

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The “L List” – Day 2

Posted in Fancy Food Show with tags , , , , on January 21, 2010 by massapeel

Well, we’re back in Virginia after a full day of travel.  Dylan, my 7 month old, did fabulously on all 4 legs of travel (2 legs each way) — couldn’t have asked for a better traveller!  And, while slightly jet lagged, we’re sticking to our guns to get ourselves back on Eastern time (i.e., we all woke up at 7:30-8am this morning, despite the desire to snuggle down into the covers for several more hours!)  Didn’t help matters that the phenomenally gorgeous sunny & 65-degree weather left just as we returned, only to be replaced by the prospect of sleet. 

Anyhoo…  I am sure that you are all curious as to my second selection of cool and new (or new to me) finds from the Fancy Food Show.  Drumroll, please….. 

tasty little gems

Number 2.   Guesses, anyone???  Bueller?  

This is paneforte.  What is paneforte, you ask?  Well, panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, which some say resembles fruitcake.  I hate to even write those words, because “fruitcake” has such a negative association here in the States.  This delicacy is nothing like any fruitcake that I’ve ever had!  

So, here’s your history lesson for the day.  Paneforte  is hypothesized to have dated back to 13th century Sienna (Italy’s Tuscany region), based on documents which suggest that panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax or tithe.  

Literally, panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavour.  And, in fact, the original name of panforte was “panpepato” (peppered bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake.  (I use the term “cake” loosely here…  really, depending on the recipe, it can range from a dense flourless cake to a paste – think quince paste that accompanies Manchego cheese).  And, in fact, because of its denseness and hearty ingredients, Crusaders are thought to have carried panforte with them on their quests, and used panforte in surviving sieges. 

California produced paneforte - secret family recipe

However, there are likely as many recipes for paneforte as there are shops selling the stuff!  The delicious concoction that I sampled at the Fancy Food Show was more in the vein of dense fruity paste as opposed to the spicy cake variety.  It was an apricot almond paneforte, made from an old family recipe by The Paneforte Company.  (The family producing it lives in California, so my romantic imagination envisions them hand-picking apricots and almonds from their local (if not personal) groves.  But, truth be told, I did not have the time to ask them that!)  

It was deliciously fresh, and simple – perfect blending of the apricot paste — not sticky, not hard, just perfect — and bursting with flavor.   It reminded me of the kind of dessert that my mother would have allowed me as a young tot in the early 70’s…  in her hippie-mom days that included Easter baskets full of carob (I did not taste a Peep until I was in my 30’s, and frankly, I don’t know why I did it then…  peer pressure!).  BUT, this is ohh so much better (not that there is anything wrong with carob!).  It would be an awesome accompaniment to cheeses, with coffee or dessert wines, with those sweet Carr’s wheat biscuits…  or, frankly, just plain!  (and for those runners, triatheletes, etc… out there – I think that a slice of this would be eminently better than sticky icky Goo!) 

Hopefully, you’ll all try this stuff.  It rocks, and you’d be supporting a family business.  http://www.panfortecompany.com