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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cheese Of The Week

CHEESE: Piave Vecchio

It’s Columbus Day, so let’s celebrate a great Italian cheese. Here’s a favorite cheese of professional cheese buyer and guest blogger Jeff Shearer, of Mandi Foods:

As the long summer days turn over to the cooler nights of autumn, our food choices move away from the fresh cheeses and lighter dishes to more of the hearty cheeses, roasts and casseroles. Fall is a great time to enjoy Havarti, Gouda, Cheddar, Brie and Camembert.

And Piave Vecchio. This hard Italian mountain cheese has a fine, rich taste and golden color—a buttery cheese that combines the flavor of Parmigiano Reggiano and farmhouse Cheddar.

Piave Vecchio pairs well with polenta and risotto, and as a table cheese with Zinfandel, richer white wines (such as Chardonnay) and medium-weight reds such as Merlot and Pinot Noir. Beer drinkers can enjoy it with amber, nut brown or IPA ales.

 

Piave Vecchio, a terrific Italian mountain
cheese. Photo courtesy PiaveVecchio.it.

 

The cheese gets its name from the Piave River, which flows through the mountain valley in the Italian Alps where it is produced. The name means old (aged) Piave cheese. If you find one called Piave Stravecchio, it is “extra-old,” the extra aging creating a cheese that tastes like a young Parmigiano Reggiano.

Grate it over fried polenta and soups, add it to grits or a risotto, shave it over a green salad or include it on the cheese plate.

Piave Vecchio is a gem often hidden in the long shadow of its very famous cousin, Parmigiano Reggiano. Piave Vecchio deserves its own time in the spotlight.

  • Learn more about Piave Vecchio and get recipes.
  • Brush up your cheese know-how in our Cheese Glossary.
  •   

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    CHEESE OF THE WEEK: Morbier Cheese From France

    This week’s cheese recommendation is from guest blogger Dana Romero, proprietor of La Fromagerie D’Acadiana in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    Morbier (more-bee-YAY) is one of France’s best-known cheeses. It is a semi-soft, aromatic and surprisingly mild French cow’s milk cheese, defined by the dark vein of vegetable ash streaking through its middle.

    Today, the ash is purely decorative, a nod to the method by which Morbier was once produced in the small village of Morbier in eastern central France, bordering Switzerland. It has a rind that is yellowish, moist and leathery. The cheese is aged for at least 60 days and up to four months. It has an assertive scent, but a mild, sweet, buttery taste and a nutty aftertaste.

     

    Morbier cheese is easily recognizable by the layer of ash in the middle. Photo courtesy MurraysCheese.com.

     

    Morbier is a byproduct of Gruyère. Way back when the cheesemakers in France’s Franche-Comté region of France were concentrating on producing Gruyère de Comté, they often had leftover curds at the end of the day. However, they didn’t have enough to make a full Gruyère de Comté, so the cheesemakers would make a smaller cheese. After packing the leftover curds into a mold, they would blacken their hands by rubbing them on the exterior of the copper pot used for cooking cheese curd. The resulting ash was smeared on top of the evening curd to keep it from drying out overnight.

    The next day, there would be more excess curd from the morning cheesemaking session, and that would be laid on top of the ash. The Morbiers of Jura and Doubs (départments—think counties—within the province) both benefit from an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation, although other non-AOC Morbiers exist.

    Do not confuse Morbier with the American Mobay cheese, a Wisconsin semisoft cheese made of one layer of goat’s milk and one of sheep’s milk. In appearance, it is similar to Morbier, with ash separating the two layers. The taste, however, has nothing in common since the milk is not the same.

    Morbier is excellent served with Gewurztraminer or Pinor Noir.

    Find more of our favorite cheeses.

      

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    CHEESE OF THE WEEK: Kuh Heublumenkäse


    Kuh Heublumenkäse from iGourmet.
    This week’s cheese recommendation is from guest blogger Dana Romero, proprietor of La Fromagerie D’Acadiana in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    A semi-hard cheese (or Schnittkäse), Kuh Heublumenkäse comes from Bavaria, the largest state in Germany. Bavaria contains the city of Munich, and according to GermanFoods.org, 75% of German cheeses are produced there. This cheese is made from cow’s milk, with floral and herb ingredients that include safflower, blue mallow, peony and marigold, with rosemary, oregano and a dash of unrefined rock salt.

    To achieve Kuh Heublumenkäse’s strong floral character, the cheese-makers first coat the cheese wheels with herbs and flowers and then seal it with transparent wax. It’s then allowed to ripen for six months, during which time the combined essences seep into the cheese’s paste. By the time it’s ready to eat, this innovative cheese is bursting with aroma and flavor. The creamy cow’s milk balances perfectly with the herb and flower flavors. In addition, consumers buy the cheese with the coating still intact, so diners get to not only smell and taste the floral notes, but also see the colorful flowers entrenched in the wax. Consider this cheese for your next tasting party or as a hostess gift—its lovely presentation will be the highlight of the cheese plate.

    So, as you wait out the arrival of spring in the bloomin’ cold, have a taste of a fresh flowering meadow. I encourage you to ask for this cheese from your local cheese monger and pair it with a Pinot Grigio. Or, for an authentic German experience, pair it with a dark German-style beer such as Gordon Biersch Dunkelweizen.

    You can learn more about German cheese (and other foods) at GermanFoods.org. If you’re looking for German cheese in your local shops, keep an eye out for any names that end with the suffix käse—German for “cheese.”



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    CHEESE OF THE WEEK: Menuet (Actually Related To The Dance!)

    You can dance the minuet, and you can nibble on some Menuet, one of numerous small batch, farmhouse cheeses found in the countryside of Normandy, a region in the north of France that hugs the south of the English Channel  and is known for its great dairy products: fine cows grazing on fine pasture. Factoid: Normandy is actually divided between French and British sovereignty. The continental territory belongs to France, and the Channel Islands, Guernsey and Jersey, are under British rule. Both areas were part of the former the former Duchy of Normandy. If the names sound familiar, Guernsey and Jersey are known for their great milk cows, which leads us back to cheese.

    Learn about this rare artisan cheese.

    Menuet, the cheese, is named after minuet, the
    dance. Originating in France, this Menuet is made
    by Dancing Cow Cheese in Vermont.




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    PRODUCT REVIEW: Cheese of the Week ~ Langres

    Langres Cheese

    Langres cheese is available on Amazon.com.

    This week’s cheese recommendation is from guest blogger Dana Romero, proprietor of La Fromagerie D’Acadiana in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    With Valentine’s Day upon us, bottles of bubbly will be popped all over the world. Our cheese of the week pairs well with Champagne, and hails from the same area where real bubbly is made, the Champagne-Ardenne region of France (in the northeast of the country, bordering Belgium). Langres dates back to the 18th century; its name and origin come from the main market town of the time, Langres, in the French départment (similar to a county) of the Haute Marne. While its origins are old, it did not gain A.O.C. status until May 1991. The cheese can only be made in the three regions: Cote-d’Or, Haute Marne and Vosges.


    Langres (pronounced LAHNG-gruh) is a cow’s milk cheese, cylindrical in shape, weighing about 180g (6.3 ounces). It is a vigorous cheese with a pronounced odor, although it is a less pungent cheese than Époisses de Bourgogne, its neighbor and the local competition. (It’s from the same cheese family as Epoisses and Muenster.)

    The taste of salt is present, making the flavor of the cheese distinct without being aggressive, and an aftertaste some have described as soaked in honey and truffles. The rind of the cheese is sticky and shiny, showing off a magnificent natural orange color. The paste is soft, creamy in color and slightly crumbly; it has a bloomy white penicillium candidum rind.

    During the maturing period, the cheeses are placed in humid cellars, where ripening usually takes 5 to 6 weeks. The cheeses are regularly rubbed with brine, either by hand or with a damp cloth. A red dye extracted from annatto seeds is also applied, which gives the cheese an orange color. The form of the cheese is a cylinder with a well on the top, which is called the fontaine or cuvette in French (think of the depression on the top of a mini cheesecake). This depression is intentional; you can pour Champagne or Marc de Champagne in it to further flavor the cheese. Enjoy it on the cheese board or with a salad; if you don’t like Champagne, a red Burgundy will do nicely.


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    PRODUCT REVIEW: Cheese of the Week ~ Beemster X-O

    Beemster X-O from iGourmet.

    This week’s cheese recommendation comes from guest blogger Dana Romero, proprietor of La Fromagerie D’Acadiana in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    I love the flavor of this week’s cheese because “the butterscotch permeates the palate, followed by alternating waves of whiskey and pecan.” I am sorry if I am waxing euphoric over Beemster X-O, but it is extremely old cheese that is extremely good. Beemster X-O is an extra double aged Gouda matured for 26 months—a very long time in a world when even a dry Parmigiano-Romano is matured for two years. As a cheese matures, the flavors become more complex; moisture also evaporates, leaving the cheese crumbly and granular. Beemster’s unique milk source enables X-O (signifying Extra Old) to achieve one of the widest flavor ranges possible in only 26 months, yet still retaining its smooth and creamy taste.


    Beemster cows graze only on pesticide-free pastures located 20 feet below sea level in North Holland. The rare blue sea clay of these pastures contains special minerals that give the milk a sweeter and softer milkfat, giving Beemster cheeses a softer and creamier texture than other Dutch cheeses.Beemster X-O is wonderful with Port wines as well as sweet whites such as a Riesling. X-O can also be grated and used as an alternative to Parmesan. You can purchase the cheese online through shop.lafayettecheese.com, igourmet.com or murrayscheese.com. Learn more about Beemster cheeses at Beemster.us.

    Learn more about Gouda, Holland’s most famous cheese.

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    PRODUCT REVIEW: Cheese Of The Week, Persillé De Malzieu

    Persillé de Malzieu, from Murray’s Cheese Shop.

    This week’s cheese recommendation comes from guest blogger Dana Romero, proprietor of La Fromagerie D’Acadiana in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    Murray’s Cheese shop describes our cheese of the week as such: “Spice is the variety of life, which is why we hunger for this rare, powerfully spicy blue.” Produced just beyond the legally protected limits of Roquefort in the Languedoc-Rousillon region of France, this cheese is made from the pasteurized milk of Lacaune sheep milk, like Roquefort, but it captures a far greater flavor spectrum. “Texturally,” continues Murray’s, “Malzieu sits heavy on the tongue, only to dissolve into a milky skim within seconds. The threat of excess salt, razing sharpness, and intense moldiness is present but always at bay. Beautifully balanced with rich, fatty milk, mushroom, and a long sweetness that should be complemented by a rich, oily dessert wine such as Sauternes or tawny Port.”


    Persillé de Malzieu is Roquefort gone wild. It spends three months in the caves of Peyrelade, in Malzieuville, France, where the atmosphere inside the caves help to produce an unctuous paste, ethereal bouquet, salty edge and wild mushroom flavor. But this cheese’s flavor profile also offers something very sweet and creamy, not quite as salty, that registers like Gorgonzola Dolce. It has a very outdoorsy flavor. “Persillé” means “parsleyed,” and is a common term for French blue cheeses (referring to both the color of the mold and the veined appearance. It is priced at around $24.99/lb. That’s not inexpensive, but blue cheese lovers will want to give it a whirl. Have it for dessert, as Murray’s suggests, with a glass of Sauternes or Port.

    Learn more about blue cheese.


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