Hello, my friends! I am finishing up on the latest batch of photos from a slew of gigs over the past couple weeks, and just when I started asking myself, “What will I do when this is done?” I got a couple super exciting project prospects. Here’s hoping they work out! That freelance life! J My current show is chugging along as well, and I am ready to sing my little opera role soon! Follow my Instagram account if you want to see the foods and sights of the Miss Cheesemonger life!
In any case, for this week’s blog post, we went to the beautiful rolling hills of Oakland (I’m serious, there are some truly beautiful corners of this town) to share a little garden party cheese board and accompaniments. All these cheeses were new to me, but they’re all perfect for a picnic, garden party, or other occasion where you don’t want to deal with runaway cheeses. I snagged some killer accompaniments, too!
Milton Creamery, cow, pasteurized, vegetarian, Milton, IA
I almost didn’t choose this one for this cheese board, but I’m glad I did! Made by the Musser family in Milton, Iowa, this cheese is made with milk from small Amish-owned farms. It has the most delightful aroma of candied apples and caramel, taking me back to . . . nothing. I mean, I never ate candied apples as a kid, but if I did, I think they would have smelled like this. The mouthfeel is both creamy and tongue-coating, but with a smattering of cheesy crystals. WHAT!!! It’s the best of both worlds! Of course, flavor matters, and Prairie Breeze starts off with a sweet, creamy one before blossoming into those candied apple/caramel notes at the end, and all through its looooonggg finish.
DEFINITELY, it was a beautiful pair with Lemon Bird Preserves’ Flavorella Plumcot with Vanilla Bean (see below). Try it for a dessert pairing. ;)
I really like this cheese.
Westcombe Dairy, cow, pasteurized, Somerset, UK
Seeing that this cheese had the “Neal’s Yard Dairy” sticker on it, I knew I was in for a treat! Westcombe Dairy in Somerset makes this PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese by hand. As a clothbound cheddar, it is indeed wrapped in lard-covered cloth, so that it can breathe during the ageing process, which can last from 11-18 months. This particular wedge was a little funky along the rind, which is normal. I kind of love that musty, asparagus, earthy smell. It had a rather crumbly texture, and a ridiculously long finish that made me think a whisky pairing would work quite nicely . . .
As for flavor, WOOHOOO! Salt. This cheese is rather strong, and with many complex flavors. I could pick out notes of toasted hazelnut, preserved lemons, and asparagus. The finish almost had a toffee quality to it. If you want to add a posh Old World touch to your party, this cheddar is it.
Stompetoren Grand Cru Gouda
CONO Kaasmakers, cow, raw, Beemster, Netherlands
A fine gouda is a great crowdpleaser, and it’s always good to include at least one in a cheese board. Mine was this Stompetoren Grand Cru Gouda, aged at least 18 months (although it really tastes like it could have been aged longer . . . ). It has that lovely Dutch caramel aroma that so many of the best gouda cheeses have, and after one bite, I learned that it is chock-full of those the cheese crunchies we all love!! Like on a scale of 1-10, this was a 10. Stompetoren Grand Cru’s flavor attacks hard with a strong, tangy punch up front, but mellows out quickly to reveal butter and butterscotch notes (now I want some butterscotch!) and a medium finish. Phew.
Lemon Bird Preserves Flavorella Plumcot with Vanilla Bean: Lemon Bird is known for its high-quality ingredients creative flavors. I had snagged a sample of this Flavorella Plumcot with Vanilla Bean preserves, and it paired SO beautifully with the plate. The smoother-textured Prairie Breeze was a particularly DELICIOUS match for these preserves. I think the vanilla in the preserves heightened the creamy/crème fraîche notes in the cheese to terrific effect.
Tomato Bravo crisps by Paul & Pippa: I’ve been trying to work my way through the Spanish label Paul & Pippa’s biscuit offerings because they have so many flavors! For today’s session, I decided on the Tomato Bravo crisps because I wanted a more savory cheese plate. These crisps are so simple, so delicate, so delicious. I super dig every one I’ve tried so far!
Italbrand Roasted red peppers: I always like adding fruits and vegetables to whatever I’m serving, and roasted bell peppers are a great way to do that to a cheese board. Not only do they add some sweetness, they add some peppy color to the cheese board. You can purchase these at Cheese Plus in San Francisco or other fine food stores.
All cheeses were purchased at Cheese Plus in San Francisco.
I’m off to enjoy some more of this gorgeous summery weather we’ve been having in SF! What about you? Stay in contact with me on Instagram!