Non-cheese of the week: Friend in Cheeses


This is American Cheese Month and all I have done to celebrate is sarcastically comment on other people’s facebooks that my favorite U.S.-made cheese is either Jarlsberg or Blue Castello. But c’mon, every month is American Cheese Month for me. It seems odd to single October out.

Right now in my fridge I do have a French Comte,* but it’s sitting in the cheese compartment with some Harley Farms goat cheese, a fresh Jasper Hill Harbison, an American sharp Cheddar and a little bit of Franklin’s washed-rind Teleme that I posted a picture of yesterday. Oh, and some Cypress Grove Chevre to stuff dates with.

But I’m not here to talk about cheese today. Nope, I’m here to talk cheese accompaniments. Because we got the most awesome stuff in the other day.

I am very skeptical when it comes to selling jams out of the cheese department. I hear it works elsewhere, but after 15 years of people telling me how well their products will sell in our area, then watching them not sell and take up valuable space, I’m pretty much an automatic “no”.

So, when this woman emailed about how great her jams were I was not expecting much. Additionally, in our store, as in most grocery stores our size, I have to work out with our regular jam buyer if stuff should go into the cheese department or her sales category. She is pretty jammed up** as well so neither of us were super enthusiastic – on a professional level — to meet Tabitha from Friend in Cheeses. She seemed nice in her emails, but whatever.

In fact, the other buyer begged out of the meeting, claiming she was too busy. As soon as I tasted the Carrot Marmalade though, I paged her and told her she needed to get upstairs right away. Because it was amazing.

So amazing that we bought them all for the store, dividing them up between our two departments. Sweet Onion Jam? OMG. Fig and Fennel Jam? Yes.

My favorite, and which I sold most of a case before I actually had it on display, were the Pinot Noir macerated Montmorressey Cherries. This may be one of the best things I’ve ever had with cheese.***

I have a picture of my other favorite. She calls it “Chow Chow” but warned me that people from the south will get mad about it because, unknown to her when she named it, there is a regional relish called “Chow Chow”. My little Texan at home confirmed this yelling, “This isn’t Chow Chow! You Californians insist on being ignorant and narcissistic, don’t you? Chow Chow already is a food!”**** Still, she agreed it was really good.

Here’s a picture of the Chow Chow with Georgia O’Keefe and her Chow Chow, just to further confuse the issue.***** It’s mixed nuts and berry in a honey base with a little bourbon thrown in for good measure. Uh huh.
DSC00591

*Not only is this an awesome cheese and impossible to duplicate, flavor-wise, at near the same price, if one is serious about protecting traditional, small-scale cheesemaking, this is a cheese to support. To my knowledge, no other cheese is limited in production-scale by definition in its name-controlled designation.
**heh
***my favorite was actually the obvious: mixed with fresh chevre. But it was good with everything I tried.
**** http://www.armadillopeppers.com/Chow-Chow_Relish.html
*****Anyone from Georgia O’Keefe’s estate reading this, please don’t sue!

7 responses to “Non-cheese of the week: Friend in Cheeses

  1. As a long time fan of Georgia O’Keefe and the owner of a (mostly) Chow, I must say that I’m craving that jam right now. Sounds great.

    You are a lucky, lucky man.

  2. I wouldn’t want one in the city, but there’s something I love about Chows.

  3. Those cherries are amazing! They went with two kinds of foie, duck and sauternes pate, and several of the eight cheeses we tried them with. All hail Tabitha!

  4. um I’m gob smacked.
    ok before I gush. Chow Chow….my years as a (and still) a chef my boys in the kitchen before shift always brought in bags of fast food to feed the beast of a long night of tickets and ball breaking work. Sooooo. I made this concoction of local honey and dried nut ,fruit, seeds and a big splash of Bourbon to intice my knife weilding super heros(in thier minds atleast) well as time went by my then Butcher/grill monster wrote on the six pan of love TABITHA’S CHOW CHOW . it stuck. Im sorry to all those from the south, no distrespect intended. Let me tell you I love the original and the Santa Cruz kitchen fuel version just seemed appropriate.

    My others in my seasonal brood are from my years as a cheese monger and SCM wine educator. There was such a void in the world of pairing acoutraments and it seemed simple, seasonal, local choices were far and few between. I would be saddened by the flat non connective pairings when I taught at the SF Cheese School and was over it so off to the great out doors I went.
    Thank you Gordon for not shooing me away and KFC thank you too. Some times it just takes one person to believe.

    Party on and never compromise. you only live once and to die with a belly full of crap just aint right…..

    Tabitha (fruit n curd wrangler)

    que to me grinning ear to ear……

  5. A friend bought me some of her stuff awhile ago and I too was blown away. There’s so much mediocre competition out there now a days and it’s easy to waste your money on crap. This was different. I agree with you 100%. Can’t wait to try the orange carrot marmalade.

    • As a long time fan of Georgia O’Keefe and the owner of a (mostly) Chow, I must say that I’m cairvng that jam right now. Sounds great.You are a lucky, lucky man.

      • I was shocked that more people didn’t appreciate my sign. Turns out, few remember what Georgia O’Keefe looks like anymore.

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