Monday, December 15, 2008

Officially booked

Sometime during the day today I booked my ticket for spring break. If Zingerman's presents me with a religious experience of cheeses, the Neal's Yard Dairy in London is the Vatican to me. Others may say Italian, or Swiss, or French cheeses own their hearts. But, to cross religious lines briefly, Neal's Yard is my Mecca. It is the place that Zingerman's sends their cheese guy, John, to work and learn. So, I will be winging my east this spring, over the pond to the land of cheeses that I so dearly love. I will be basking in the soft white glow off the rounds of brie, the golden hues of the cheddars. Then, a short jump over the Irish Sea to Ireland, land of Dubliner, Cahill Farm Cheddar and Cashel Blue. With these cheeses, a pint of Guinness and a plate of Galway Bay oysters to look forward to, does life get any better?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

And a Happy Festivus to All!

Where has the time gone? Mid-December already? Well, I'll take it - one day closer to winter break, one day closer to my spring break trip to London and Ireland. Yes, I'm a snob. My spring break will be spent in London and Dublin. You can cry for me. ;-)

Not many straight cheeses through the House of Trudi lately, mainly due to a catering gig that had me jumping and dancing in my kitchen, performing feats of strength worthy of Festivus as I cooked appetizers for 60 people. The big hit of the party, as usual, was the Gorgonzola Fruit Torta. Somewhat of a legend in my circles, this layered cheese spread is easy to assemble, freezes well, and is always devoured. So, in the holiday spirit of giving, I present the recipe. My gift to you.

Gorgonzola Fruit Torta

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 1 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Appetizers

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
16 ounces cream cheese -- softened
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese -- crumbled
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup green onion -- chopped
1/4 cup parsley
1/2 cup dried apricots -- chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds -- toasted

Cut up cream cheese. Place in a food processor (or mixer, or, if you want to skip your gym workout, by hand) with Gorgonzola and mix until smooth. Line an 8" by 4" loaf pan with saran wrap (I use a cereal bowl). Layer the following ingredients in order:
1/4 cream cheese mixture
1/4 cream cheese mixture
green onion and parsley
1/4 cream cheese mixture
1/4 cream cheese mixture

Use a small spatula greased with cooking spray to spread cream cheese mixture easily over other ingredients without mixing (or, do as I do and use your wet hands). Cover and chill until firm. Turn uncovered pan upside down on a serving plate and remove wrap very gently. Serve with crackers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A love/hate kinda day...

Joe, darn you anyways. I love having someone who appreciates food in the building, though - makes my day that much more pleasant!

You see, Joe made me go to the Cheese Brothel today. Like, stuck a gun to my head kinda made me. Ok, that might be exagerating a bit. But, I did pick up an old favorite (Crandale) and something new (White Stilton with Lemon Zest). Well, it was actually an accident - I had meant to pick up the Stilton with Pear and Apple, but, well, I grabbed the wrong one. A very nice, mild cheese with just the slightest hint of lemon. Well, maybe more than a hint. Yes, more than a hint. But, I could see this with blueberry scones. And a very nice cup of black tea. Definitely tea. As far as wine, I'd pair it with something equally fruity. Beer? Definitely a summery Hefeweizen. Or... stuffed into a chicken breast into a take-off on a picata.

All courtesy of Long Clawson Dairy. Fate, I believe. You see, I live in Clawson....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm baaack!

Yes, I know I know. Summer came, I wasn't near my cheese brothel... I mean, grocery store, and I haven't updated. But, my new (school) year's resolution is to take this up again. And, I stopped and picked up a wedge of Humboldt Fog, which I am very much looking forward to. So, tomorrow I'll pick up some grapes, a lovely apple, a pear, and camp out on the couch.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I've been absent, and for this I apologize. And, I have to admit, I've been cheating. Yes, I have two loves in this life. One of them is of course cheese. The other is chocolate.

A few weeks ago an email was sent out at working asking for layer cakes to decorate tables at an auction. Never being one to pass up the chance to show off my baking skills, I volunteered. And baked this beauty. I was then approached by a colleague, who asked me if I would bake one for her. And get this - she PAID me! So, I did.

The cheese will be back soon. I'm slowly coming out of the chocolate-induced diabetic coma.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A recipe and a review

Spring has arrived here, but this winter lover is just not ready for it. I needed one more batch of creamy, thick, potatoey goodness to warm my life. It's 70 and sunny, but I've had a cold and my eyes are killing me from the congestion in my sinuses, and I had a small container of mashed potatoes from the roast chicken I made last week (the carcass went into make the stock I used) so potato soup it was. When I was in university, in the northern throes of the Upper Peninsula, my roommate, Brooke, would throw together a wonderfully thick potato soup from her mom's recipe collection. Tonight, I thought of her when I made my soup, and threw in (very moldy but generously trimmed) bit of Tintern. The lovely green specks of chive brought just enough spring to the party. I can also add that melted, it takes on a whole new character, bringing a mild Raclette to mind.

Today's cheese: Crandale. This lovely bit of goodness comes to us once again from England, this time the nice, creative folks at Ilchester. I've had a few of their cheeses, and I swear each to be my favorite.

Origin: Ilchester, Somerset, England
Type: cow's milk
Age: Don't know
Texture: Semisoft.
Rind: Wax (cranberry red, of course)
Cost : $12.99/lb
Impressions: This tasty morsel is Wensleydale with cranberry bits. It's not as sharp as some Wensleydales I've had, bit drier than the Tintern. Mildly sweet, bit of tartness from the cranberry. The website recommends port as a wine pairing, and I can't wait to try this. Would also lend itself well to a smoked turkey hors'dourve, or crumbled over a salad. The Ilchester site has recipes as well - the Wensleydale and Cranberry dip would be perfect for Thanksgiving.

Coming soon, per request from across the Pond: a Comte.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Introduction and first cheese

Hi, my name is Bethany, and I have a problem. (Hi Bethany!). I'm addicted to cheese. I've always liked cheese, of course. Who doesn't like cheese? It all started with mac and cheese. Kraft dinner. The stuff in the blue box. I grew up in a modest, Midwestern household. Not a ton of money, but enough to get by on. Then, I made the mistake of studying a foreign language. And entire hallways lined with doors became available to me. I moved past American and cheddar, into Swiss and gouda, through brie and gruyere, traversing entire forests of blue-veined cheeses from around the world, the bleus and Maytags and gorgonzolas and Stiltons. I'm blessed and cursed to work near an upscale market with a dangerous cheese selection, and close to 2 Whole Foods Markets, where I'm a regular visitor to their "cheese is for snacking" bins. I spend weekends going to Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, MI, to tour their creamery and watch John turn out lovely mozzarella. I travel to San Francisco and promptly head to the Ferry Market and Cowgirl Creamery, where I drop a small fortune on aged milk products. In short, I have a problem.

So, a blog seemed the logical next step for me. I usually buy at least one "new to me" cheese a week. I'll try to include the following information in each post: origin, type, age, texture, rind, price and impressions. I have quite a backlog of cheeses in the fridge, but I'll try to savor them... ummm, space them out. :)

Somerset - Tintern
Origin: Wales
Type: cow's milk
Age: Don't know
Texture: Semisoft. It says it's an herbed (shallots and chive) cheddar, but at room temp, it was much softer than a cheddar
Rind: Wax (a lovely green!)
Cost : $14.99/lb
Impressions: Really well balanced. Smells very familiar to me, reminiscent of Dubliner maybe? Soft texture spread like slightly cold butter onto the baguette. Wasn't overwhelmingly onion-y with the chive and shallot, but didn't reek of cheddar either. Not overly salty either. Would be really nice on a sandwich with smoked turkey. I chose this cheese because of a lovely trip I shared visiting England (namely Bristol) and the childhood home of my friend Ruth and her family. I wanted to go to Wales, so we made our sojourn to Tintern Abbey to indulge her brother's love of ruins. It was a gorgeous place, with grass as green as the herbs in this cheese, and eating it made me long to be back.

"The Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales. Erected in 1131, it was the second Cistercian abbey in all of Great Britain, and the first in Wales. This blended Welsh cheese is named after the Tintern Abbey. With loads of chives and shallots mixed throughout its cheddary body, it makes a great pub cheese, especially appreciated when served with your favorite beer or ale. Its exterior is protected by a generous coating of bright green wax, which serves to highlight the green flecks of chive inside the cheese and completes an outstanding presentation."