Nothing puts me in the mood for love like mushrooms. I know, I know – they’re a far cry from oysters or caviar, but aphrodisiacs rely on individual appeal and I happen to be mad for forest smells: wet earth, moss, the vaguely cabbage-y smell of tree rot. These are what led me to a special Valentine’s Day threesome: roasted mushrooms stuffed with Nancy’s Camembert and a spot of Brussels sprout relish.
If you’re working on your resolutions, allow me to weigh in. There’s never been a better time to explore American cheese, and with the bounty available to you from small artisans it’s high time to move beyond Cheddar and Brie. In the spirit of newness, here are five types of American cheese to try in 2013.
If you find yourself heading to a swish party without a holiday sweater, you can always make up for it with a wedge of Rogue River Blue. It’s the elusive wedge everyone’s been looking for since it won the coveted “Best of Show” award from the American Cheese Society last year. Now it’s in season, just in time to nuzzle pears and sidle up to your most intoxicating eau de vie.
Remember this: birds migrate in the fall, and so do great cheeses. The holiday season draws rare imports, and you can count on cheese shop shelves to be bountiful and bright. If you’re a caseophile, now is a great time to look to the sky and ask yourself, “What amazing cheese is in store for me tonight?”
Dear Pepper Jack Lovers, let me bend your ear. I know that you get the fever this time of year – when the Crock-Pot comes out, you want your game-day dairy hotness. I’m only going to tell you this once: there are 3 spicy condiments that you can pair with sharp cheese, and they’re way better than pepperjack. Yeah, go ahead and breathe. It’s hard to hear.
A few weeks ago, my friend Mike Geno received an 18-pound wheel of Grand Cru Gruyère from Wisconsin in the mail. The American Cheese Society (ACS) had commissioned him to paint a series of award-winning cheeses, but after he finished the portrait, he was left to scratch his head. What does one do with a whole wheel of Gruyère? Of course, I got a call.
Officially, August is National Goat Cheese Month, but let’s agree: we’re past campaigning for goat cheese acceptance. Back in the 1970s, when the first goat-cheese pioneers were emerging from their milking barns in coveralls, Americans found chèvre exotic.
At the height of summer, it’s hard to think about eating anything other than fresh tomatoes and light cheeses, like mozzarella. Luckily, great mozzarella is easy to come by in Philadelphia – Di Bruno Bros. makes it fresh daily, and you can buy it in any number of sizes, from baseball-shaped rounds to braided strands to tiny beads that are great for tossing into salads.