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."