Cheese glorious cheese

28 Sep

IMG_0049Cheese. It’s one of the most versatile foods that we have access to. It can be used in a salad, melted over chips, folded into an omelette, and even whipped into a cake. It can be eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or dessert. It’s prized in Europe and becoming a huge trend in American cooking. Although cheese making has been  an artisan specialty for centuries, it has just recently become more popular and less mysterious.

Here’s a little background on how cheese got its start. Although there is no official stand on this, it is thought that cheese was discovered by accident. About 2000 years ago, sheep herder was out for a long walk with his sheep. As was the norm back then, he was carrying some of the sheep’s milk with him to sooth his thirst in the hot weather. In the middle of the day he was feeling particularly thirsty, and stopped to have a sip. He was surprised to find that his fresh sheep’s milk had turned into a thick creamy mass. What he had discovered was cheese. The vessel that he was using as a canteen was in fact, a sheep’s stomach. Sounds weird today, but it was an everyday thing 2000 years ago. The stomach contained the rennet that creates the separation of curds from whey.

If that’s how cheese was discovered, then how did we get the variety of cheeses that we have today? Well, it’s simple. Trial and error. People all over world played with their food and discovered fabulous variations of cheese. Different milks, different regions, different processes, different additives and flavor agents all add to the differences in cheese.

There are so many different types, but I want to talk to the Blues…

Blue cheese is one of the love it or hate it things. Most people either LOVE it or can’t stand it. But I think blue is great. It comes in so many varieties  that there really is a blue for everyone. Blue can be sweet, gorgonzola dolce, and served as a dessert with pears and honey. Or it can be super strong like roquefort. Blue can be paired with steak, mashed potatoes, dates, and apples. It jazzes up chicken, salmon, and can even be made into a cheesecake.

I’ve made the cheesecake before, and it makes a great appetizer. It’s a nice change from baked brie. If you aren’t a general lover of blues, give the milder ones a chance. Try them in a salad with cranberries and walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.

As far as wine pairing, blue go well with strong wines like cabernets and Bordeaux blends. It is also classically paired with tawny ports. The saltiness of the cheese makes the port taste sweet and addicting. You can also pair them with sweet wines like Riesling and sparkling wines. The contrast of sweet and salty it always a safe bet. I would personally stay away from drinking sauvignon blanc or an un-oaked chardonnay because the lightness of the wine can not stand up to the intensity of the cheese. If you still aren’t sure, the best rule of thumb is to drink what you like and you will be guaranteed to like the pairing.

Always thinking of the next meal


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