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.
*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.
***my favorite was actually the obvious: mixed with fresh chevre. But it was good with everything I tried.
*****Anyone from Georgia O’Keefe’s estate reading this, please don’t sue!