December Cheese of the Month – Mini Kunik

WOW. You know it’s going to be a crazy holiday season when I can barely find time to write on the blog (yikes!).

But don’t you worry, guys and gals, because you know I’d never return to you empty-handed. I may have taken a brief hiatus, but I’m coming back full-force with a delightful little gem of a cheese.

(Drumroll please….)

Say hello to our new Cheese of the Month: Mini Kunik!

Coming from a creamery that I personally love, Nettle Meadow, this cheese isn’t one to overlook. Appearing to be just a cute little wheel of brie, these little Kuniks are so much more.

Being a triple-crème made from a blend of predominantly goat’s milk with cow cream mixed in, Kunik is a sure choice for both goat-lovers and those on the fence about the usually-tangy milk because the addition of the cow cream really smoothes out that goaty flavor and adds an extra creaminess (no pun intended) to the texture.

One of the things I love about Nettle Meadow is that they’re a domestic and local company, hailing from just a short drive away in upstate New York. Weighing in at about 4oz. each, these mini wheels of Kunik are the perfect addition to any cheese platter or the perfect snack to split over a bottle of wine (or to eat by yourself over a bottle of wine…cough, cough…). For a killer pairing, enjoy Kunik alongside a nice bottle of bubbly with some fresh strawberries, or a freshly opened bottle of your favorite Belgian blond ale.

mini-kunik

Now, I know what you’re wondering: you’re sitting there thinking, “Okay, so we’re just about at the end of this post and she still hasn’t told me what the heck a ‘Kunik’ is!”–don’t worry, the suspense would be killing me, too. The meaning is actually quite literal: the word “Kunik” translates to “snowball” in eskimo, which is a pretty close comparison for these pure-white, little cheese wheels.

And don’t think I’d let you down on the deals–Mini Kunik wheels are currently on sale for just $6.99 at your local Bottle King Vineyard Market. Grab yours before they’re gone!

*Availability may vary by store. Special pricing while supplies last.

The Ultimate Swiss is in Town- Gruyère!

Swiss cheeses is a funny thing, isn’t it? I mean when you say Swiss cheese, most people think of a mild, springy cheese with holes in it, but really shouldn’t Swiss cheese be any cheese from Switzerland?

Well folks, this is the case today, where I show you a cheese from Switzerland–a Swiss cheese–that is not what most of us typically imagine to be “Swiss cheese”: Gruyère.

Many of us are very familiar with this classic dairy delight, even if you’re not aware of it. You see, Gruyère is the traditional cheese that gets melted on top of your steaming hot bowl of French Onion Soup! So even if you never realized it, there’s a good chance you’ve already tried Gruyère.

Coming in a few different varieties, including cave-aged, Gruyère gets its named from the Swedish town where it originated: Gruyères. And if you judged a cheese by smell at first sight, you might not be too crazy about this one, seeing as it is a washed-rind cheese, but trust me its bark is much, much worse than its bite. The classic version of Gruyère is aged for about 6 to 9 months and has a dark yellow-ish paste, sometimes with a few cracks through it. It’s slightly creamy and fairly mild with a slightly sweet but nutty and earthy note, making it ideal for both cooking and snacking.

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As I mentioned before, Gruyère is a classic cheese to shred on top of French Onion Soup, so as you can imagine, it’s an excellent melting cheese. This makes it a great choice for so many applications in food:

  • on a grilled cheese sandwich along with some smoky/sweet mustard
  • melted over sautéed mushrooms with grilled chicken
  • shredded on top of French Onion Soup (obviously)
  • as a base for mac & cheese
  • as a base for fondue
  • as a base for pretty much any melty cheese sauce

This cheese will be one of the features for us at the Glen Rock Vineyard Market all month (along with some other goodies), so be sure to stop in for a taste!

November Cheese of the Month – Urbani Truffle Cheese Spread

Is anyone else a little thrown off that it’s already November?

I feel like I may have felt the same thing when October rolled around, but c’mon now. November being here means that December is just around the corner (psst, and so are the holidays!).

So as you know, with a new month comes a new Cheese of the Month. And this one fits the bill for a fall/holiday Cheese of the Month quite nicely. If you remember my post last autumn about how great all things black truffle are, you’ll understand partly why. Super decadent and luxuriously truffle-y, meet Urbani’s Truffle Cheese Spread (cue fireworks).

Urbani logo.gifThe fantastic new cheese’s maker, Urbani, is a global leader in the truffle market, dominating over 70% of it. Started up in 1850 by Carlo Urbani, the company has been handed down through the generations and is still owned by descendents of the Urbani family to this day. Their classic traditions and years of experience are what ensure the utmost quality in all Urbani products–including our fantastic new Cheese of the Month.

This new Truffle Cheese Spread may look a little unassuming at first glace, but seriously do not let that fool you. Open up a container to reveal a pure, paper white, thick and buttery spread dotted with black truffles. I couldn’t resist taking my first bite by itself on a little tasting spoon–quite possibly the most richly decadent cheese I’ve had, and the truffle flavor is present but certainly not overwhelming.

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I’m telling you, this stuff is going to be a crowd pleaser. Serve alongside some crostini and fresh fruit or chutney–YUM–or treat yourself for breakfast or lunch by slathering it on pumpernickel bread. Or you could be like me and just dig in with a spoon…

And the best part? This super-delicious-lusciously-rich-and-tasty-and-oh-so-divine treat is available in all Bottle King Vineyard Markets at the special price of only $7.99/tub!

Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Happy Cheese-O-Ween!

Have I told you guys yet? I love Halloween. Probably one of my favorite holidays. Because who doesn’t love candy and all things pumpkin?

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So ladies and gents, I hope you’re ready for a fantastically ghoulish cheese platter featuring all the Halloween-esque gourmet goodies we’ve got here at the Vineyard Markets!

halloween-platter-from-fraisNettle Meadow Apple Cider Fromage Frais: I know what you’re thinking, apple cider in my cheese? Trust me, I was skeptical at first too, but this is something special.  Coming from upstate NY, Fromage Frais is Nettle Meadow’s special blend of goat and cow’s milk, giving this cheese a nice fluffy, almost-whipped texture, and this particular variety has a lovely blend of spices mixed in to deliver a slightly sweet apple spice flavor–trust me you won’t regret trying this one.

halloween-platter-pumpkin-goatMontchevre Goat Pumpkin: Again, I know what you’re thinking…but c’mon! A creamy goat cheese base with a little pumpkin added in–what could possibly go wrong with that? This cheese delivers the traditional textures of a goat log accompanied by a nice pumpkin flavor with a subtle spice at the end, sure to please all of your ghoulish guests.

halloween-platter-vamp-slayerVampire Slayer: You didn’t think I’d forget this classic did you? If you’re not familiar, this cheese comes from not too far away in Pennsylvania from Calkins Creamery. A special cheese we only get around this time of the year, given its name, Vampire Slayer is a cheddar base spiced up by some garlic, onion, and paprika. Perfect for fending off unwanted fang-toothed friends on Halloween.

halloween-platter-pump-honey-mustardTerrapin Ridge Pumpkin Honey Mustard: While this one isn’t a cheese, it’s every bit as important to this cheese platter as the cheeses. A new item to our Vineyard Markets, this pumpkin honey mustard may sound a little bizarre (I know), but it’s honestly pretty darn delicious. It’s got a creamy texture and a great pumpkin flavor, followed by a lingering spice at the end that I can’t help but think of pumpkin pie.

Other accompaniments: Try adding some yummy dried fruit crackers, like Kii Natural Crisps or one of the Toasts for Cheese varieties by The Fine Cheese Co. (pictured). Another great choice would be some fresh-cut apple slices–spread on the cheese or dunk in the honey mustard!

halloween-platter

 

Up & Close with Vermont Creamery

Now, as a cheesemonger, I know I should probably love all cheeses and creameries equally–but I do have to say Vermont Creamery has a special place in my heart. One of the few creameries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, my experience there was more than I had hoped for.

We arrived on a gorgeous, sunny day to a small unassuming building with a little plaque reading “Vermont Creamery- Creamery Office”. Inside, we were greeted with warm smiles and some good coffee (unlike the cup I’d had at the hotel’s free breakfast…). As I slurped my cup of Joe, we were introduced to our tour guide for the day, Sam Hooper (relative to co-founder Allison Hooper), and as our coffees settled into our bellies, we geared up for our tour of the creamery.

And by “geared up”, I mean scrubbed up!

Creameries are incredibly controlled environments; everything including temperature and humidity is controlled to ensure the quality of the end product being made. Before entering, you have to scrub your arms, elbows down, and wear sterile scrubs, head to toe–including a very fashionable hairnet. Then we were finally ready!

And let me tell you, walking through Vermont Creamery was such a homey experience; everyone says hello to you and to one another, and it’s so evident how passionate they are about their jobs. While the creamery does in fact use advanced machinery for many aspect of their production, many of their artisan cheeses still require a human’s touch. Take for example their Bonne Bouche, which is hand ladled and rotated during its aging process, and their Herb Goat Log, which is literally hand-rolled in herbs (No pictures were allowed, but I saw it, I swear!).

When we finished our walkthrough of the creamery, we were treated to a cheeselover’s dream lunch–a cheese platter of course!–featuring the creamery’s own delicious cheeses, butter, and crème fraiche.

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With our bellies satisfied, our next stop was the goat farm where Vermont Creamery gets a lot of their milk. I’m totally a dog person and I think they may well be one of the cutest things in the world–but if you’ve never seen a real goat in person before, they might be a close second.

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Ayers Goat Dairy, also accompanied by a cute little sign, a bit of a drive from the creamery itself, and boasting the largest single rooftop solar field in the state.

We got to see where the goats hang out, where they breed, where they’re born (even got to see some newborns!), and of course where they’re milked twice a day. Excuse me while I bombard you with some photos…

So before I get carried away with these adorable goats, there are so many reasons why Vermont Creamery is super awesome, so here’s my short list to sum it up:

  1. Super delicious, high quality products–
  2. –made by passionate people.
  3. Family-owned and run
  4. Good to their employees
  5. Environmentally friendly & sustainable
  6. Certified B Corp
  7. Supports local family farms
  8. Supports the local community
  9. Hires lots of women (50% of management! Yay gender equality!)
  10. LOOK AT THOSE GOATS

Vermont goat.jpg

Have you gotten the opportunity to visit any creameries you fell in love with? Tell us about it in the comments!

Oma-gosh!

I’ve done it again!–found another amazing cheese, of course.

If you’ve been keeping up with me here are the BKVineyardMarket blog, you may already know that I kinda have a thing for stinky cheese. Now if you haven’t been keeping up with me or you’re not all that familiar with the diversity of cheese, “stinky cheese” is just a more blunt way of saying “washed rind”. Washed rind cheeses are simply cheeses that have been “washed” or bathed in some sort of a brine during their aging process, imparting a new class of flavors and sometimes making the cheese quite pungent (read more about washed rind cheeses here).

omaThe reason I’m going into this? We just got in to the Glen Rock location a new stinky cheese–and it’s delicious. My friends, meet Jasper Hill’s Oma.

Jasper Hill Farm, a highly regarded creamery, not only makes their own specialty cheeses, but they actually specialize in aging others’ cheeses in their unique cellars. Oma is one of these such cheeses. Coming from Von Trapp Farmstead in Vermont, Oma is a delightful raw milk cheese, made entirely with organic cows’ milk mostly from Jersey cows. It’s aged for about 10 weeks before it’s pulled and sent out for purchase!

Now when I call Oma a “stinky cheese”, please do not let this scare you. Washed rind cheeses come in a variety of shapes and sizes and, most importantly, pungency. That being said, Oma is a very approachable washed rind cheese, similarly to Taleggio but with just a little more oomph. My assistant and I got to give it a taste yesterday and we both agreed it’s a winner. The paste is springy but spreadable, sort of like St. Albray, and the flavor isn’t oma-piecesquite as pungent as it is complex. It’s got a buttery almost meaty taste to it followed by a very subtle sweet note. If you want to go big and try the rind, like my assistant always does, it gives a whole new taste to the cheese, introducing a nice earthy note.

With its flavor profile, I think this cheese could go well with a variety of beers; Jasper Hill recommends trying it with a Belgian Dubbel. As for wine, you could go red with a nice Burgundy or Pinot Noir, or if you prefer white try a good Riesling. As divine as it is by itself, you know I always have some accompaniment suggestions for you; try it with some roasted salted nuts or fig jam, and of course some crusty artisan bread.

October Cheese of the Month – St. Albans

I think it’s finally safe to say: it’s Fall, y’all! (please pardon use of cliché phrase…) Once October hits, all the things we love about autumn seem to surface: sweater weather, all things pumpkin & apple spice, and all things Halloween. And of course with the start of a new month, we here at the Vineyard Markets transition into a brandy new Cheese of the Month.

I’m so excited to share this new cheese with you, hailing from one of my most beloved creameries, Vermont Creamery!Vermont-Butter-and-Cheese-Creamery-Color

If you’re familiar with Vermont Creamery at all (check out a couple other posts on them here and here), you may recall that they’re famous for their variety of fresh and aged goat cheeses. Well folks, say hello to their first aged cow’s milk cheese and our new Cheese of the Month: St. Albans.

st-albans-com-blogJust like all of their other products, St. Albans comes in this gorgeous packaging that’s just super appealing and, more specifically, functional. Each little wheel comes packed inside a mini ceramic crock, ideal for baking the cheese within in the oven to make a gooey and delicious quick fondue! But before you bake it, I highly recommend trying it as is.

St. Albans is actually hand-shaped (literally) and aged for just 11 days, long enough to develop a thin and delicate rind. The flavor is pure decadence. Even before it’s at room temperature, St. Albans is ooey and gooey and full of deliciousness; rich and milky with just a slight bit of tang, almost reminiscent of the creamery’s Cremont cheese.

Looking for a pairing? Try St. Albans with a nice bottle of bubbly for some contrast. Accompaniments? Add a little apricot jam with a dash of cracked black pepper. And if you’re looking to go the fondue route, just warm in the oven until super melty and add a pinch of salt and pepper. No matter which way you  go, you won’t be disappointed with St. Albans at your table.

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