04 Jun Special of the Day: Cheese, please!
My immersion into learning more about gourmet cheeses this spring was inspired initially by reading an engaging story called “The Cheese Artist” by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl in Best Food Writing 2013 by Holly Hughes, enroute to Scottsdale for a girls’ trip with my high school pals. With a birthday on the horizon, Grumdahl’s mention of The Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins as the “definitive reference for Americans who want to understand cheese” prompted me to put the book on my wish list, which my brother Kelly kindly found and sent to me.
An adorable gold cheese knife set found while shopping in Scottsdale was a serendipitous find. And surprisingly, there was one more cheese treasure in my future as my mom and dad hosted a lovely birthday dinner party for me and gifted me with a beautiful Boska cheese curler from Holland that shaves off ruffled ribbons of truffled cheese for an elegant appetizer offering.
Cheese, cheese, and more cheese!
I had been purchasing gourmet cheeses at Wines by Wednesday periodically now and then, but my eyes were opened once again when I spied the appetizing array of select cheeses my brother Tyler had purchased there and presented at a springtime soiree at his house.
How fortunate we are to have a source for delicious imported cheeses from all over the world right here in Great Falls. If you’re looking for a great way to get a summer party started, selecting a few gourmet cheeses and grabbing a bottle of wine or beer that would pair nicely may be the way to go.
Wines by Wednesday sources their cheeses from a company on Colorado called Cheese Importers. They are currently carrying aged Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy, Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese from Northern California, Point Reyes Blue Cheese from northern California, Potato Chip Gouda from the Netherlands, Roomano Pradera Aged Gouda from the Netherlands, Cave Aged Manchego from Spain, Brillat Savarin Triple Cream Brie from France, Espresso & Lavender Rubbed Cheddar, Smoked Walnut & Apple Cheddar from Salt Lake City, Taleggio Mountain Cheese from Piedmont Italy, Fontina Valle d’Aosta from Piedmont Italy, Gruyere from Switzerland, Fenugreek Gouda from Holland and Triple Cream Cambozola from Bavaria Germany.
Wines by Wednesday owner Mark Tronson says their best sellers are the Taleggio that sells for $5.75 a ¼ pound, the Brillat Savarin Triple Cream Brie that sells for $5.75 a ¼ pound and the Cambozola that is $6.95 a ¼ pound.
Wines by Wednesday does meat and cheese trays that are sliced on the spot, priced at $19.95 for two meats and two cheeses, $29.95 for three meats and three cheeses and $39.95 for four meats and four cheeses. They also do a Cheese of the Month Club that gives you 1/3 pound each of three cheeses and a selection of crackers along with tasting notes and wine/beer pairing suggestions for $35 a month.
In addition to helping you hand pick the cheeses you want to serve, Tronson provides recommendations on what to drink with your selections.
Tronson says that because the Loire Valley is the ancestral home of Chevre (goat cheese), Humboldt Fog and a nice bottle of Sancerre or Pouilly Fume is a perfect choice. “The creaminess of the cheese and the tanginess of the wine simply sing in perfect harmony.”
The Roomano Pradera Aged Gouda is rich and dark and a deep, deep amber color. Tronson’s favorite wine pairing with that cheese is a wine from Old Vine Garnacha’s from Spain, preferably Vespres from the Montsant wine region near Barcelona. “The nuttiness of the cheese and the dark cherry richness of the wine is incredible,” according to Tronson.
And for the beer drinkers out there, Tronson recommends the Triple Cream Brie on Cranberry Pan Forte Crostinis with the Elysian Super Fuzz Blood Orange Beer. “Beer and cheese is so underappreciated,” he says, “and this pairing is a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon on the deck!”
While any of the gourmet cheeses they carry at Wines by Wednesday is perfectly palatable on its own, I had great fun developing recipes that allowed the cheeses to shine but complemented their individual qualities by providing some interesting accompaniments.
With thanks to Mark Tronson at Wines by Wednesday for sharing his expertise on cheese, comes this week’s Special of the Day: Cheese, please and recipes for Fried Taleggio on Lightly Dressed Greens, Gorgonzola Grapes and Cherry Almond Cheese Ball. Enjoy!
Wines by Wednesday
214 5th Street South
Fried Taleggio Tiles on Lightly Dressed Greens
Recipe by Sydne George
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon olive oil
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3 cups spring greens
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup flour
½ cup panko
½ tsp. fresh lemon peel
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ pound Taleggio cheese, rind removed, sliced into square tiles about ½ inch thick
Make the dressing:
In the bottom of a large salad bowl, whisk together mustard, lemon olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Top with spring greens, but do not toss yet. Set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in medium saute pan over medium heat until hot.
Set up three shallow dishes for breading, put flour in one, beaten egg in another and panko, lemon peel and salt in the third. Stir panko, lemon peel and salt to combine.
Bread Taleggio tiles by dipping first in flour, then egg, then panko mixture.
Transfer to hot oil and cook briefly, just until golden. Turn and cook other side until golden. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
Toss greens in dressing. Arrange lightly dressed greens on four salad plates. Top with Taleggio tiles. Season with a sprinkle of Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Recipe by Sydne George
(makes about 30 bite-sized appetizers)
½ cup walnuts
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ pound Gorgonzola cheese
¼ tsp. salt
30 small green grapes, washed and dried (Make sure grapes are dry before wrapping them.)
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Spread walnuts out on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in preheated oven for 5-8 minutes until toasted. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool, chop finely.
Combine cream cheese, gorgonzola and salt in bowl of electric mixer and mix until thoroughly combined. Remove about a teaspoon of the Gorgonzola mixture and spread it around a grape. Roll the gorgonzola and grape in your hands to spread it over the outside of the grape until it is covered. Roll in walnuts to cover. Repeat with remaining grapes. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprig and season with freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!
Cherry Almond Cheese Ball
(Recipe by Sydne George)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. heavy cream
½ tsp. almond extract
¼ pound Triple Cream Brie, rind removed
Dash Kosher salt
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread almonds out on rimmed baking sheet. Toast in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and let cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, heavy cream, almond extract, brie, salt and cherries. Beat until thoroughly combined. Form mixture into a ball and place in serving plate. Cover with toasted almonds. Serve with celery sticks and crackers.
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at email@example.com . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the Day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.