See FAQ for more information about varieties of cheese.
Image courtesy of Karoun Cheese
Talking about "Mediterranean cheese" as if it's a distinct variety is problematic for two reasons. First of all, almost all of the best cheese-producing countries in the world surround the Mediterranean Sea: Spain, France, Italy. Second of all, cheese originated in the nomadic sheepherding cultures that lived in the region east of the Mediterranean, so to some extent all cheese is Mediterranean.
Still, when we use the term "Mediterranean cheese," we are typically referring to a select group of eastern European and Middle Eastern cheeses, typically made from goat or sheep's milk, typically fresh or pickled (but not aged), and typically really delicious. Here are some of my favorites.
The kind folks at Murray's Cheese are offering CurdNerds readers the chance to win two tickets to one of their new cave tours. I wrote about the tours yesterday on Serious Eats, and they were also covered in a little snippet in today's New York Times. The tours are offered on the third Saturday of every month, and this contest is for the tour that will happen on February 16th at 3:15pm. For details on entering the contest, keep reading.
This would be fantastic with a lush triple-crème like Brillat-Savarin or Pierre Robert. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it! It will also be a hit at the party, people simply love triple-crèmes (just don't let them get a cholesterol test afterwards).
Crisp like the new autumn breeze, sweet like the joys of family gatherings, and tart like the season’s change from warm to cold, the apple is the expression of fall. And though they can last all winter long, there is no substitute for a specimen in season, when the apple’s flowery juice tends to explode brilliantly from beneath that red-green covering.
Apples also make for an almost-perfect companion to cheese, as the balance of tartness and sweetness is a phenomenon common to both. These days, the Union Square Greenmarket is teeming with apples of every kind, New York State being a particularly great area for growing them. Seeing the surfeit, I decided to do an informal apple and cheese tasting event with my wife and her brother and sisters, who happened to be coming over for a visit. I picked out ten, yes ten, varieties of apples as well as five cheeses to try with them.
Picking the apples was fairly straightforward—I went with some of my old favorites (Stayman Winesap, Honeycrisp, Suncrisp, Mutsu), as well as some that I keep hearing about but have never tried (Cameo, Jonathan, Macoun). Rounding out the list were
Winners of the Second Annual American Artisanal Treasure Awards have been announced. What are those awards, you ask? Norbert Wabnig, proprietor of the The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, created the awards to "honor producers of handmade specialty foods across the United States." Aside from cow, goat and sheep's milk categories, Wabnig also hands out awards for best olive oil, best condiment, best bread, best sausage, best marmalade or preserve, best honey and best sweet.
New York Magazine has posted a holiday guide to cheese, curated by Max McCalman, Maître Fromager of Artisanal and Picholine. One cheese in particular that caught my eye was the Swiss Flixer, made by the venerable alpine cheesemaker Rolf Beeler (who also makes one of last week's cheeses of the week, Hoch Ybrig). A sheep's-milk cheese that is "dense and relatively mild, with a delicate, slightly sweet chestnut flavor, 'it’s one of the holy-grail cheeses,' says McCalman." Something I definitely have to try. Speaking of Rolf Beeler, the cheese of the week this week will also be one of his amazing alpine creations: Prättigauer. Tune in later in the week for details.
Searching for more information about the Calendrier des From'Girls, mentioned in yesterday's post, I came upon a blog about French cheeses called Tout Un Fromage. There is a new post every day, and very often the article describes a variety of French cheese, with information about where it's made, the texture, what kind of milk is used, the rind, the shape, the fat content, the affinage, the taste, the season and good companies that make it. There are also recipes, photo galleries, book reviews, quotations, and other articles that only a curdnerd would enjoy.
A young Swazi boy was arrested and missed his final exam after stealing cheese from the local Shoprite in Mbabane. "“When my mother was alive, she used to buy us cheese and I grew fond of it. Following her demise, I have been missing the taste for cheese,” he stated, adding, “when my eyes fell on the cheese, memories of the good old days resurfaced”.