Tag Archives: friend in cheeses

One of my holiday cheese plates

I actually made two cheese plates for Thanksgiving this year. One for my parents’ house and one for our little gathering the day after. I only took pics of the one at our apartment so if you are a cheesemaker reading this, be sure your cheese was on the other plate!

This was the Hermann St. cheese plate:

Front row, l-r Beau’s Blend, Bleu des Basques, Benina Crema
Back row, l-r Pau (St. Mateu),* Rush Creek, Prairie Bloom (mislabeled as “cow”. Sorry, it was a long week)

And what the heck, let’s have another picture of the Bellwether Whole Milk Ricotta with pinot-soaked cherries!

If you wanna talk about underrated cheeses, the Benina Crema is definitely under-appreciated. Made somewhere in Merced County the cheese is now being aged longer than the version we carried a year ago and it is tremendous. It’s sweet and sharp like an aged Gouda but organic, hand-made, and from grass-based milk. The Burroughs Family eggs are awesome too, if you can find them!

The Beau’s Blend is another California cheese from down near Watsonville. The Garden Variety organic sheep milk is combined with the milk from the Schoch Dairy down the road. This may have been the most popular cheese on the plate (except for the ricotta/cherry combo).

Rush Creek actually was probably the most popular. It just disappeared so fast it was like it was never there. I’ve written about this cheese before.

Bleu des Basques is another under-appreciated cheese. Think more interesting Istara Ossau-Iraty with blue veins! Awesome.

I will admit that the Prairie Bloom was a free sample. Hey, cheese is expensive, even to me! Still this was a really nice little goat brie from Missouri. I know nothing about it except what we can both read here.

This is what the cheese plate looked like after about 2 hours.
the cheese plate is dead

People love cheese.

Please feel free to share any good Thanksgiving cheese stories in the comments. What did you serve?

*Anyone know why this cheese was once called Pau and now is called St. Mateu?

Hit of the Holiday

I served a lot of great cheeses for Thanksgiving, but this was the hit of the holiday. Bellwether Farms Whole Milk Ricotta topped with Friend in Cheeses Pinot Cherries:
ricotta and cherries

It was milky. It was sweet. It was boozy. It was awesome.

I was going to wait until our x-mas party to try this, but after Lenny from Bellwether came to the store and did a demo, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. Thanks again Lenny!

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.

*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.
**** http://www.armadillopeppers.com/Chow-Chow_Relish.html
*****Anyone from Georgia O’Keefe’s estate reading this, please don’t sue!