Series Switcheroo: “Cheese of the Week” to “Meatless Monday”

Cheese of the Week will be taking a hiatus in favor of a brand new series starting on Monday!  We have really enjoyed Cheese of the Week — discovering new cheeses, revisiting old favorites — but we are very excited for something new on Monday. We hope that rotating series will keep us all exploring different types of food! But not to worry, Cheese of the Week will be back.

Meatless Monday logoOn Monday, I will be joining the Meatless Monday campaign and posting a new Vegetarian or Vegan Recipe weekly. I have started exploring vegan dishes and am so excited to share some of the wonderful recipes I have stumbled across and created.  As is true of so many great things in my life, Maddie introduced me to this campaign and gave me the idea for the new series. I hope you all enjoy it, and for all of the cheese lovers out there, don’t worry, there will definitely be some cheesey recipes in Meatless Mondays.

Cheese of the Week: La Tur

La Tur Cheese

La Tur Cheese, image courtesy of Murray's Cheese

My mother and I spent the day together last Saturday pouring over cookbooks, exchanging recipes, and trading healthy secrets to wonderful desserts. I was realizing in these moments just how much she influenced me in so many ways, but especially in my food choices and habits. So, in honor  of my mom, I present La Tur, a cheese that is, to this day, frequently is in her refrigerator and therefore, that I grew up on.

Jane Fletcher of the San Francisco Chronicle accurately describes La Tur as “luscious”, a cheese that can “truly stand in for any dessert.” Its texture is almost mousse-like, similar to Nicciolo but a tad more dense, with a soft, creamy exterior encased in a soft rind. Also like Nicciolo, this succulent cheese uses sheep, goat, and cows milk which creates its warm, rich flavors.

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Cheese of the Week: Humbolt Fog

For a month or two now, my fiance Shay, has been asking me to do Humbolt Fog as the ‘Cheese of the Week’ but I  was having way too much fun discovering new cheeses on my own, plus visiting some old favorites. Finally, this week when we were grocery shopping, he picked up a piece and placed it in our cart insisting that I try it.

Humboldt Fog

Humboldt Fog

Maddie came over for dinner this week and I had decided to save the cheese tasting for this occasion so she could see what all the fuss was about too.  I wish Shay could have been there to see the looks on our faces when we first tried the cheese.  Clearly, I should have listened to Shay weeks ago when he first suggested I try this fantastic, unique cheese. (more…)

Cheese of the Week: Red Hawk

I think it was living in England that converted me to stinky cheese.  It’s not like I grew up eating plastic, tasteless American cheese; in fact, one of my favorite childhood snacks was toast with gjetost (a caramel-colored Norwegian goat’s milk whey cheese that I probably don’t need to tell you is pretty obscure in the States).  Nevertheless, I think Oxford was a turning point for me.  With cheese shops everywhere, France just across the channel, and the historic covered market (complete with its own special stink), it was impossible to resist for long.

Red Hawk cheese, by Cowgirl Creamery

Red Hawk cheese, image courtesy of Cowgirl Creamery

Red Hawk is just about as stinky as they come.  When Gabrielle asked me to cover the Cheese of the Week post for today, I thought of it immediately.  While many potent-smelling cheeses are imported from Europe, Red Hawk is made right here in California from locally-produced organic milk, by none other than — you guessed it! — the gals at Cowgirl Creamery.

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Cheese of the Week: Taleggio

Last night I decided to play around with Mac n Cheese, and went in quest of new cheeses to add to the regular suspects.  Normally I use Gruyere, Gouda, Cheddar, and Parmesan, but was feeling like some variety. I thought of using a brie, which I am sure would have been very nice, but many brie’s do not have enough bite, and I like a cheese sauce with a kick. Whole foods was my cheese counter of choice this week, and when I described what I was looking for, they suggested Taleggio, the ‘Italian brie’, as they put it.

Taleggio is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese from the Val Taleggio region in northern Italy, near Lombardy. It’s not as sweet as a brie, but instead has some earthy, meaty flavors and a little bit of a bitter tang. The sweetness of the cream cuts this nicely though, to make a very pleasant combination. The texture is very similar to last week’s cheese, Mt. Tam, and similarly, melts beautifully.

Taleggio cheese

Taleggio cheese (public domain image)

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Cheese of the Week: Mt Tam

Mt Tam Cheese, image courtesy of Cowgirl Creamery

Mt Tam Cheese, image courtesy of Cowgirl Creamery

Two summers ago, Shay and I were invited to a friend’s birthday at Hog Island Oyster Farm in Tamales Bay. For those who have not been there, apart from being an oyster farm, it’s a picnic venue that sells quality cheese, bread, and wine, and of course, oysters to barbeque! I personally am allergic to shellfish, but cheese, wine and a beautiful setting…my kind of scene. It was there that I first tried Mt. Tam, and I was hooked from the first bite.

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il Nocciolo: Cheese of the Week

Believe it or not, this cheese was not discovered at Market Hall, Cow Girl Creamery, or Whole Foods.  Shay and I were exploring Russian Hill in San Francisco, and wandered into (okay let’s be honest, I heard there was a cheese shop and found out the cross-streets) “Cheese Plus.” It was pretty much my heaven: Wine, quality dried pasta, and a very large cheese counter.  I asked for the woman behind the counter to give me a taste of her favorite cheese.  This is my favorite question to ask people because while it’s an impossible one, I get introduced to at least one cheese I have not had before and often find new favorites. She went for this small cheese and told me it was a triple milk?!?!?!?! I had no idea at the time, but it means the cheese has cows, goat, and sheep milk.

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Cantal: Cheese of the Week

During the search for the Cinderella cheese, I stumbled upon something fabulous. You may remember that the mysterious cheese from Thanksgiving that I lost the label for began with a C and that it was similar to Gruyere. The cheesepert (cheese expert, yes this is now going to be a term I use weekly) originally thought I meant Cantal, which must mean that she thought I was an amateur to the cheese tasting world, because while Cantal is wonderful, I would never compare it to Gruyere.  When I tasted this fabulous cheese, I said, “No that’s not it, but I am going to get a piece of it anyway.” Why not?! This is how you discover new cheeses.

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Challerhocker: Cheese of the Week

"Cinderella Cheese"I FOUND THE CINDERELLA CHEESE!  Let me back up, those of you who read the Midnight Moon cheese of the week post two weeks ago, know that for Thanksgiving, I bought three cheeses, knowing that I would write the Cheese of the Week on the best one. Well, in my haste to put together Thanksgiving dinner, I threw away the labels for the cheeses and could not remember the name of my favorite.  Thus, it was named the Cinderella cheese, the beautifully flavored, mysterious cheese that got away.

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Cheese of the Week: Vlaskaas Gouda

A tradition for Maddie and I started one night when, fairly early in our friendship, I came over for dinner and she made this incredible cheese sauce.  Now, we get together at her home a couple of times a month to cook dinner together, maybe share some wine, catch up, and play Mario Kart. It is always so therapeutic and the highlight of my week.

This week, we decided we were going to make our cheese sauce, so of course in preparation for this bimonthly ritual, I went to Market Hall for the cheese selection. I asked for a creamy aged Gouda, I almost mentioned something about notes of caramel, but decided that level of cheese pretentiousness does not need to be advertised. When I tasted the slice of Vladkaas I had been handed, I almost told the woman it wasn’t what I was looking for, but after I gave it a second, all of these different flavors started coming out. It started with more of a Swiss cheese taste for just a second and then rich, tart layers of flavors kept coming. It was really the most dramatic flavor growth I had ever experienced with a cheese. When Maddie and I tried it together, there were mutual sounds of delight and even a little dance on my part (which we don’t need to go into).

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