Hello, cheese lovers! Phew, I’m now recovering from my final weekend performing in HMS Pinafore, but I’m also preparing for my next audition next week. I feel SO lucky to be able to sing and pursue my opera dreams. Dreams really do come true, if you keep at it, and are not afraid to keep putting yourself out there! That goes for cheese blogging, too!
This week, I had the great privilege of photographing a summery cheese and jam/honey session with Chuck, one of my former colleagues at Cowgirl Creamery. He is one of the most knowledgeable cheese people I know, and was so generous to let me use his home and dishes for our session! I had a few herb and flower jellies from one of my favorite French brands, L’Epicurien, and some honeys to play with. After a trip to a couple local cheese shops, we were ready for a refreshing, breezy pairing. Here’s what we found:
Camembert di Bufala & Thyme Jelly
This lush buffalo milk cheese (pasteurized) made by La Casera in the Lombardy region in Italy has a smooth marshmallow texture and milky, mushroomy flavor. The thyme jelly was gorgeous, like a light mantle on a white summer dress—the thyme flavor launched the pairing, then mellowed out, and sweetened the cheese, while lengthening the camembert’s finish. It was wonderfully refreshing, and oh-so-delicate!
Prairie Fruits Creamery Black Goat & Confit of Lavender Flowers
I have a particular love for ash-ripened goat cheeses and lavender, probably because of my time in Provence, land of goat cheese and lavender! This cheese, made in Illinois (pasteurized), had a beautifully oozing texture and full barnyard flavor, just like I like ‘em! The lavender confit brought an extra sunny brightness to the cheese, and prolonged the cheese’s creamy finish splendidly. And surprisingly, the confit cut the cheese’s barnyard flavor significantly!
Koolputter & Rosemary Jelly
The rosemary jelly was a little bit sweeter than the other jellies in the pairing, so we needed a saltier cheese to stand up to it. Koolputter, a raw milk cheese from Belgium made with cow and sheep milk whose name means “coal miner,” took some time to grow on Chuck and myself. Upon first taste, it seemed pretty subdued, but over time, the saltiness and nutty flavor bloomed into the giant we realized this cheese really is. The jelly’s sweetness stood up to Koolputter well, making for a harmonious pairing (the best kind!). The result was a slightly herbal bite, with just the right balance of salt and sweet. It tasted like summer in Belgium!
Ameribella & French Blossom Honey from Corsica
Ameribella, a raw, washed-rind cow’s milk with a signature funky aroma and milky, bread dough, meaty flavor, is a favorite among a lot of mongers I know. With such a full-flavored cheese, Chuck and I knew we needed a full-flavored condiment. Luckily, we had some honey on hand–French Blossom honey from Corsica, with notes of molasses, brambles, and bourbon. Together, the honey and cheese melded delightfully—milk and brambles up front, then a beefy, bourbon finish. It felt like a cheesy barbecue in the middle of the woods.
Chuck and his wife made some delicious lemon scones with which to scoop all of those cheeses, so I was one very happy cheese blogger!
On top of that, Chuck had bought some Miss Cheesemonger goodies at my new shop, and modeled them for me!! Go get a t-shirt for yourself!
If you find yourself at Cowgirl Creamery at San Francisco’s Ferry Building, make sure you say hello to Chuck!
French Farm, which distributes all of these condiments in the U.S., very kindly provided them for today’s pairing, and all of the cheeses were purchased ourselves. Thank you, Chuck and Kim, for letting me use your kitchen for an afternoon!
Black Goat by Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, Champaign, Illinois
Camembert di Bufala by La Casera, Verbania Intra, Italy
Koolputter by Catharinadal, Hamont-Achel, Belgium
Ameribella by Jacobs & Brichford Cheese, Connersville, Indiana
Those adorable animal-adorned cheese boards come from Anthropologie.
The wood-handled knives are made by Laguiole.