Spring is my favorite season. Fall is definitely a close second, but you can’t deny the awesomeness that is blooming trees and flowers. And the smell of rain? Oh yeah. Totally.
So now that the warmer weather seems to be finally upon us, it’s time for one of our yearly cheese features: Beemster is back, baby! Well, not that it ever really went anywhere, but all of the Vineyard Markets recently received their large shipment of Beemster cheeses, all at special discounted pricing!
I realize I’m using a lot of explanation points. Forgive me. I just love Beemster. If you didn’t already know, Beemster happens to be one of my favorite creameries for a number of reasons:
- Products are made by small family farmers
- They’re a founding partner of Caring Dairy
- They raise free-roaming, grass-fed, happy cows
- Their high-quality cheeses are hand-crafted and traditionally made
- Their cheeses are naturally lactose-free
- Their Gouda is the preferred choice of the Royal Court of the Netherlands
- They’re eco-friendly & energy-conscious
- No growth hormones or pesticides used
- Their cheeses are JUST SO TASTY, how can you not love them?!
- For more info on Beemster, check out my previous post HERE.
A familiar name for many, Beemster is well known for their Goudas, especially their aged Goudas. Currently, Bottle King’s Vineyard Markets are all carrying three main Beemster cheeses: Classic, XO, and Paradiso.
Beemster Classic is aged for about 18 months and is signified by its black, red, and beige wax. While on the surface, this cheese seems to be very hard, it actually has a super creamy mouthfeel. If you’re expecting this to be anything like your run-of-the-mill Red Wax Gouda, you will be in for a big surprise. Beemster Classic tastes rich and nutty with some slight caramel-y notes.
The next cheese on the list is Beemster XO. The XO is short for “Extra Old”, and this cheese is signified by its monochrome beige wax rind. Similar to the Classic, this guy is aged for 8 more months than its counterpart, making XO a 26 month-old aged Gouda. The extra aging time further develops that rich flavor and results in a more robust cheese with butterscotch and whiskey notes.
Don’t be surprised if you get a little crunchy bite every now and then! Both Beemster XO and Beemster Classic are dotted with tyrosine crystals thanks to their aging process; a sign of their expert cheesemaking.
Lastly–but certainly not least–is Paradiso, Beemster’s Italian-style cheese. The youngest of the three, Paradiso is aged for just 10 months, yet somehow is still full of little crunchy crystallized bits throughout–yum! This cheese is still creamy, though I feel it’s slightly less creamy than the Classic and XO, and the texture does almost remind me a little bit of Parmigiano Reggiano. The flavor is nicely balanced: slightly sweet and nutty yet mildly tangy all at once. An easy crowd-pleaser.
All three of these cheeses would safely do well alongside a Cabernet Sauvignon, but could do equally well against a Chianti or some dessert wines such as Port or Sauternes. Beers could go so many ways. Try an IPA with the Classic and Paradiso and perhaps a darker beer with the XO. Fresh fruit and fig jams for all! And don’t stop there: shred on your pasta, grate into your salad, and eat by the chunk!
What’s your favorite Beemster cheese?
I know, I know. You’re all saying, “But Amber, it’s not technically April yet!”
Well, I’m sure you’re not all saying that, but I know some people are. And to those people I say, it is officially April 1 in New Zealand!
Really, though. Google it.
ANYWAYS. That brings me back to my point: our newest Cheese of the Month! Many of you may recognize this classic cheese. An oldie but a goodie, the Bottle King Vineyard Markets are featuring Comté! If you’ve been with us here for a while, you may remember Lauren’s post way back when on this cheese.
Hailing from the Franche-Comté region of France, this semi-hard, alpine-style cheese is made from raw cow’s milk–one of my favorites! In my opinion, raw cheeses–that is, unpasteurized cheeses–just offer so much more than their pasteurized counterparts; they’re fuller, richer, more flavorful. This particular French one may strike a familiar note with all my die hard Gruyère lovers out there. When I describe Comté to my customers here, I often use the phrase “the French version of Gruyere” (may neither the French nor Swiss strike me down…). Its lovely full flavor is all wrapped up within its firm, yellow paste and natural, rough, brown rind.
Comté is an incredibly versatile cheese. When you’ve got a nice, fresh hunk of it, it makes a delightfully nutty and earthy addition to any cheese platter; however, this cheese is also a fantastic melting cheese and a great substitute for anywhere you would normally use Gruyère.
- atop French Onion soup
- in a grilled cheese with Anna Mae’s Smoky Mustard (my favorite)
- as a base for mac and cheese
- as a base for fondue
- melted over sauteed onions
- in quiche
- on a cheese board alongside some rustic crackers & Dalmatia Fig Cocoa Spread
- in anything and everything that involves cheese
Another amazing thing about Comté? It makes a great pairing with a variety of different wines. Try it with an aged Port, a lighter Riesling, or a fruity Merlot or Pinot Noir. You simply can’t go wrong!
Ya know, I was thinking the other night…
There are so many cheeses out there in the world. And I just feel like…
…are so underrated.
Like our February Cheese of the Month for example: Wyke Smoked Cheddar! You may recall last summer when we featured Wyke’s Ivy Vintage Reserve Cheddar, which is among my favorite cheddars. Wyke Farms has been producing cheese for a long time and has certainly paved their own way in the industry through their delicious and high-quality products.
Wyke Farms has a long history of cheesemaking for over 150 years. Family owned and operated, they’ve been producing cheeses using traditional methods and the family’s original recipe from their grandmother Ivy for generations.
The newest addition for us at the Vineyard Market’s is Wyke’s Smoked Cheddar. This baby is aged for about 12 months (OK maybe not such a baby…) before then being smoked for a solid 16 hours to really develop that rich flavor throughout.
Personally, smoked cheeses can be hit and miss with me and I really think it’s tough to find a really nice one; however, I think Wyke Farms has hit the nail on the head with this one. If you’ve ever tried their Ivy Vintage Reserve Cheddar, this Smoked Cheddar is reminiscent of that, with the same rich creaminess and fairly mild base flavor, but boldened by the smoking process. The smokiness is prominent but not overpowering, and you don’t get that over-the-top ham sort of flavor that you get with a lot of smoked goudas. It’s really just a nicely well-balanced creation.
With this, I think a good medium- to full-bodied California Cabernet Sauvignon would work nicely, or if you’re a white wine drinker a slightly oaky Chardonnay would also do well. As for all my beer drinkers out there, give this Smoked Cheddar a go with an Amber or Brown Ale, or even an IPA for some contrast. And what the heck, if you want to make a party out of it, serve this cheese on a board alongside some salted peanuts, hearty rye bread, and your favorite mustard.
What’d you think of this month’s Cheese of the Month?
Be sure to stop in this weekend at your local Bottle King Vineyard Market and ask your cheesemonger for a taste!
Are you all ready?
Because I’M BACK. (cue parade)
I first need to just say some apologies for my disappearance from the blogging world for the last few weeks. No matter how hard I try, the holidays somehow always take over at the Vineyard Market and leave little to no room for other activities.
But don’t worry- the new year is here, full of new cheeses and new posts! The first of which being this one, about none other than our newest Cheese of the Month.
This special cheese comes from a company we’ve featured before: Beehive Cheese Co. You might recall their unique take on cheese, winning us over with oddly delicious classics such as TeaHive and Barely Buzzed.Well folks, I’m happy to say they’ve done it again. This time we bring you a drunken sort of cheese; Beehive’s original cheese creation soaked in High West Whiskey.
The base cheese, called Promontory, is Beehive’s own invention made in Utah from Jersey cows’ milk. An Irish-style cheese, I’d say it sort of reminds me of a firm cheddar mixed with a little bit of Parm–where you could go wrong with such a delicious combo? And then to top it all off, Beehive Cheese Co. infuses their Promontory cheese with High West Whiskey for a still-buttery and tasty base followed by a flavorful bite from the whiskey.
For both non- and whiskey-lovers alike, this cheese would make a great addition to any table. Snack on it alongside some salted nuts and honey. Wash it down with a bold red wine, an IPA, or–of course–a nice glass of whiskey!
Get your piece of Beehive’s Fully Loaded Whiskey now at your local Bottle King Vineyard Market, on sale for just
* Check with your local Bottle King for availability.
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.
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!
Apple picking season is among us!
I know this because I, along with a multitude of others, went apple picking with my family last weekend! And we had gorgeous weather for it–not too hot or too cold, and barely a cloud in the sky.
Whenever we have these family get-togethers, we usually conclude with a big old fashioned family dinner, and, since I’ve been in the Vineyard Market, I’m the one responsible for providing the appetizers (cheese, of course!).
This time around, I really wanted to find a cheese that worked well on a few levels: it had to go well with the two jams I was bringing (Belberry Raspberry & Star Anise + Rothschild Farm Pineapple Habanero) and it had to taste good alongside from freshly picked and cut crispy apples. And boy have I outdone myself.
I give you Beecher’s Extra Aged Flagship, aged for a whopping 4 years! You might recall Beecher’s creamery from the Vineyard Market featuring their four signature cheeses as well as our field trip to their creamery nearby in New York City (for a refresher, click here).
This latest Beecher’s cheese we’ve got our hands on is aged for 30 months longer than their original Beecher’s Flagship cheddar. This gives it a way more developed flavor while still making it an incredibly approachable cheese. It’s rich and creamy with lots of little crunchy pieces within (yum!). Great served with your spoils from apple picking or just by itself cubed up. Fancy a glass of wine? Try this guy with a buttery Chardonnay to really bring out its richness.
* Check with your local Bottle King Vineyard Market for stock of this tasty cheese.
And just like that, folks, summer has come to a close–more or less. While the official first day of Fall has yet to come, I’m sure most of us can agree that the time for sunny beach days is now a thing of the past in exchange for back-to-school and soon-to-come crisp weather.
Anyone else as excited as I am?
If not, you will be once I tell you about our awesome new Cheese of the Month! I give you: Dziugas! Looks like a mouthful, I know, but it’s really quite simple with a nice soft “J” sound: joo-GAHS.
Hailing from Lithuania–don’t worry, I didn’t know they made cheese either–this cheese is aged for 36 months, resulting in a hard and almost crumbly texture. And just wait until you take a bite. The flavors are bold and complex; nutty but with a subtle sweetness. Dziugas reminds me almost of an Italian-style hard cheese because it’s got a nicely sharp but well-balanced bite.
With so much flavor, Dziugas makes for a delightful pairing with many big red wines or even a Brown Ale or Saison. For some super tasty accompaniments, try it with fresh figs and prosciutto.