I know, guys, I know.
WHERE HAVE I BEEN???
I know I’ve been MIA for the past couple weeks, and for that I do apologize.
With great absences, come great new things to the Vineyard Market! We’ve been getting some exciting new things into our stores, as well as bringing back some cult-favored oldies–and I cannot wait to share it all with you in the coming weeks.
For now, however, I’ll ease you all back into it with one new item that I’m sure some of you have anticipating since May 1st: our newest cheese of the month! While it’s a bit of a late reveal this time around, the cheese is still just as amazing. Say hello to Sartori Black Pepper BellaVitano.
If Sartori is sounding familiar to you, you may recall all of our past blogs featuring this wonderful creamery. Started by Paolo Sartori and Louis Rossini is 1939, Sartori brings authentic Italian traditions to Wisconsin-made cheeses. A family-run operation to this day, the company has produced classic cheeses with a twist–such as their Asiago with Basil and Olive Oil–as well as created their own unique cheese called BellaVitano.
BellaVitano is Sartori’s original creation: a pale yellow-cream color, this cheese is crumbly, yet creamy, and so full of flavor. Sort of like a Cheddar-meets-Parm, BellaVitano is the base for many of Sartori’s flavored cheeses, including Merlot and Espresso.
Now enter: Black Pepper BellaVitano, our May Cheese of the Month. This time around, Sartori has started with their delicious and unique cheese and then added cracked black peppercorn for a delightful little bite. While the flavor is most pronounced on the actual rind, it is nicely imparted throughout. Each piece of this cheese is super moist, creamy, and savory with that hint of a little something else (you know, black pepper).
Black Pepper BellaVitano would make a fantastic addition to any cheese platter–I just added it to mine the other night! My boyfriend loves snacking on it with some Dalmatia Fig Spread and an IPA. I personally love it with some crusty French bread and a glass of Pinot Noir, but hey, potato-potahto right?
How do you love to eat this month’s Cheese of the Month?
Anyone remember when we did that big feature on Roquefort blue cheese a while back? If not, I can certainly refresh your memory! Roquefort was our cheese of the month some November ago.
The biggest, baddest blue in our arsenal, Roquefort is a classic French cheese made from raw sheep’s milk and has been made using the same traditions for hundreds of years. With a big, rich mouthfeel and an intensely complex blue flavor, this cheese is surely one for my blue-lovers.
Don’t let its pungency scare you away, though, as this cheese is also quite versatile. While its heartiness might be presumed to be enjoyed mostly during the cold months, there are quite a few ways to enjoy you some Roquefort during the warmer months as well.
- Slathered on a cracker with Flo’s Grows Raw Honey
- Mixed with some Cheddar and pulled chicken to make a Buffalo Chicken Dip
- To make a refreshing snack: Little Blue Bites
- As the blue cheese component in blue cheese dressing
- Mixed with cream cheese for dunking raw vegetables
And my favorite way: on pizza!! & what a better time for pizza than now, when the weather is just right to grill it outside.
Now you may have realized at this point that my friend Karen has been sending me quite the blog-spiration lately–and she’s still going! Check out the latest mouthwatering recipe she sent my way!
Maple Bacon Roquefort Pizza
What you’ll need:
- Store-bought or homemade pizza dough
- Pro tip: ask your favorite local pizzeria to buy some of their pizza dough!
- 2 small apples, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup real maple syrup
- 12 ounces shredded Italian blend cheese
- make it yourself with equal parts Mozzarella, Provolone, & Parm
- 4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
- ¼ cup roasted garlic cloves, cut into small pieces
- 3 ounces crumbled Roquefort
How to do it
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
- Place the sliced apples in a small bowl and pour the maple syrup on the sliced apples and set aside.
- Line baking sheet with foil and sprinkle with corn meal or spray with cooking spray. Divide the pizza dough ball into 4 sections, reserving half of the dough for another use. Stretch the dough and place on baking sheet, working the dough into a rectangle. If the dough springs back, let it rest for a few minutes then continue to spread it into the corners of the baking sheet.
- Layer each of your pizzas with half of the shredded Italian cheese, then top with slices of apple, the bacon, the garlic cloves and finally the chunks of Roquefort.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden. Drizzle with additional maple syrup, cut and serve immediately.
I think one of my favorite things about working, not just in a food department but in a food department within a liquor store, is that I get to taste so many different things. And then I often get to taste them together.
Wine and cheese pairings was such a huge interest to me when I first started working in the Vineyard Market. I thought it was just so neat how two seemingly different things could taste so good together, or how they could bring out such different flavors in one another. At this point, wine and I get along pretty well and I feel that I have a pretty decent understanding of general pairings among wine and cheese. The next step? Cheese and beer–a whole new world for me.
Beer has always sort of been an enigma for me. I totally understand why people love it, and once in a while I could maybe sorta enjoy it myself
BUT I have to say that most of the time, I would rather just…not. And I was totally thinking that I just hadn’t found my deep down connection with beer yet.
Last weekend, however, I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Brooklyn Brewery with some of my co-workers. And let me tell you, my view on beer has been forever changed. I had the opportunity to try quite a few of their beers on tap, and for the first time while drinking a beer, I imagined all the cheeses that might taste good with it.
One that I distinctly remember is Brooklyn’s Naranjito: a lovely Pale Ale brewed with orange peels. This beer has a lightness to it, enhanced by its citrus flavors–immediately upon tasting this beer I was craving a bite of some fresh chevre. Unfortunately, this particular Brooklyn beer is unavailable for purchase in the U.S. (I’m just as sad as you are), but I’ve also found that if you’re looking to pair some fresh goat cheese, Brooklyn’s Greenmarket Wheat has a similarly light and refreshing taste to it that I think would do really well alongside the tangy creaminess of goat cheese.
Here are some other pairings that I’ve found to be successful:
- Brooklyn Lager with Gruyere
- Brown Ale with 3 Month Manchego
- Defender with Black Diamond 5 Year Cheddar
- Summer Ale with Wyke Vintage Cheddar
- Sorachi Ace with Shepherd’s Way Big Woods Blue
These pairings are not set in stone by any means. You might try one of the combinations above and decide you don’t care for that particular beer and cheese together at all–and that’s okay! The greatest thing to me about cheese and beverage pairings is the diversity of it. What I find to be delicious, you might not, and vice versa.
Food and alcohol pairings are meant to be a fun adventure. Not sure what goes well with the beer you have? Experiment! Pick your favorite cheese, crack open that beer, and give it a go. You never know what combinations you’ll fall in love with.
Have you tried a beer and cheese combo that you absolutely loved? Let me know in the comments!
Get it? Because
= Cheese-ter! Right???
Aaaaanyway. For those of you that may not have been aware, this past Wednesday was a day very near and dear to my heart: National Grilled Cheese Day!
Of all the foods I love to eat, grilled cheese holds a special place near and dear to my heart. I can recall eating grilled cheeses as far back as I can remember; they were always my go-to snack when I was growing up. They’re super easy to make, there’s an unlimited number of variations you can do, and come on now, it’s buttery toasted bread with gooey melted cheese–where can you possibly go wrong with that?
And so in honor of National Grilled Cheese Day, I thought I’d give you some inspiration to make your own cheesy grilled concoction! And the bonus? It’s the perfect meal to whip up for any picky little eaters you might have on Easter (like my nephew, oh boy).
- Comte with Anna Mae’s Smoky Mustard
- Gruyere, caramelized onions, & mushrooms
- Smoked Cheddar with honey mustard & cornichons
- Swiss with prosciutto & pickles
- Mozzarella, tomato, basil, & a touch of balsamic vinegar
- Yancey’s Fancy Buffalo Wing cheese, fresh jalapenos, & pulled chicken
- Gouda with apple slices
- Brie with Raspberry Preserves
- Brie, bacon, & apricot
As you can see from just those few combinations, there are so many ways you can go with this! Grilled cheese is so fun because you can pretty much just take whatever you love to eat and press it between two slices of crispy buttery bread. Excuse me for a moment, my mouth is watering…
To top it all off, ladies and gents, I’m also going to share with you a recipe that my friend Karen sent to me the other day that really got me excited to do this post
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Casserole
What you’ll need:
- For Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- 16 slices sourdough bread
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- one 5.2-ounce container of Boursin cheese (or other soft, spreadable cheese)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 8 thick pieces
- try Lioni Fresh Mozzarella
- For Tomato Soup
- One 14-ounce can tomato sauce
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 eggs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To Finish
- ½ cup shredded white cheddar cheese
How to do it:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- MAKE THE SANDWICHES: Butter one side of each slice of bread with ½ tablespoon soft butter. Flips the slices over and spread 1 tablespoon Boursin on 8 pieces of the bread. Place 1 slice of mozzarella on top of the Boursin and then finish with one more piece of bread, butter side up, to close the sandwiches.
- Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place the sandwiches on the hot griddle and cook until both sides are toasted, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set the sandwiches aside.
- MAKE THE SOUP: In a medium pot, whisk the tomato sauce with the tomato paste until smooth. Heat over medium-low heat until it begins to simmer. Stir in the cream and thyme.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Pour about a third of the hot tomato mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to combine.
- Return the mixture to the pot and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- MAKE THE CASSEROLE: Pour half of the tomato mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Arrange the sandwiches inside the dish and then pour the remaining tomato mixture on top.
- Sprinkle the cheddar evenly over the casserole. Bake until the tomato mixture is bubbly and the cheese is melted, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before serving warm.
What’s your favorite way to make grilled cheese?
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!
Have I ever mentioned that I have a big family?
Big as in, mom & dad, 6 kids, 2 brother-in-laws, and another 4 boyfriends/girlfriends. So you can imagine the craziness it is when we all manage to get together.
Like today! Today is actually one of my sisters’ birthdays, and tonight we’re planning on surprising her by getting the whole family together at her house while my brother-in-law distracts her. Hopefully she doesn’t read this blog…
Anyways. I’ve learned over the years that it can be very hard to make enough food for
everyone when there are so many of us. And I’ve also learned that pizza is always a fantastic go-to option.
It’s easy to make, you can easily customize it, & it can generally feed a lot of people.
SO I was very excited when I got an email a couple of weeks ago from our Vineyard Market lead in Morris Plains, Karen, giving me a recipe for some amazing-looking pizza.
I mean, COME ON. LOOK AT IT.
So folks, if you want to find out how you can serve up this mouthwatering pizza, then just keep on reading below!
What you’ll need:
- Terrapin Ridge Farms Creamy Chipotle Pepper dip
- About ½ of a 4 oz. Montchevre plain goat cheese log, crumbled
- About ½ cup Manchego cheese shredded
- Il Forno Focaccia bread
- About ¾ cup Shredded Rotisserie chicken
- 1 small onion, sliced and caramelized
- Olive oil
How to do it:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place Focaccia on a sheet pan.
- Dollop small amounts of goat cheese all around the focaccia bread.
- Evenly drizzle Chipotle pepper dip over bread and goat cheese.
- Sprinkle chicken over bread then top with shredded Manchego cheese.
- Dollop a little more chipotle dip for good measure and drizzle entire pizza with olive oil.
- Place sheet pan in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
- Ingredient amounts are very forgiving and easily interchangeable with other things. Make what you like!
- Use pulled pork instead of chicken.
- Add cooked bacon or pancetta.
- Brisket would be great with sautéed mushrooms instead of onions