I figured it was a good time to talk about cheese as today marks the one year anniversary of my Papa leaving this earth. During the last year of his life my Mom got him addicted to sharp cheeses as an after dinner snack. So whenever we would visit him he would say, "Dagny doll, can you be an angel and slice me some thick chunks of that good cheese and bring them to me with some of those really crunchy crackers your Momma buys? And be sure they are nice big slices of cheese, not those thin ones." I can't believe it has been a year already! We all miss him more than words can say, but I know he is sitting in his lounge chair up in heaven asking a real angel to bring him some cheese!
Now, I don't eat cheese that much because it makes me feel sick - but every once in a while if I have a bad day I whip out a block of cheese and a chick flick and go to town! Oh how I adore a good cheese! You can be sure a party will be good when the cheese is divine. If you are invited to our home for a dinner or a party you can pretty much count on us always have a cheese plate present...lucky you. : )
In my humble opinion a good cheese plate consists of the following things: something sweet, salty, sharp, crunchy, soft, and fruity. Some cheese, some nuts, some jam (I recommend anything from my Friend's Jam Shop - Jam by Mags) some crackers or bread, and some fruit. You won't find many smelly, super soft, or pungent cheeses in our fridge. We like our cheeses clean, simple, and classic.
Now I know cheese cases at the grocery store can be overwhelming and intimidating, but really just dive in and sample everything! Figure out what you like and start building a cheese repertoire. Really, nothing makes you sound more sophisticated then if you know a lot about fancy cheeses. Most grocery stores will let you sample as many of the cheeses as you want - so don't be afraid to ask!
7 Things you might not know about Cheese:
1) There was a study recently done on whether or not eating cheese before you went to sleep caused nightmares. Contrary to popular belief cheese does not cause nightmares, but instead helps promote restful sleep.
2) The three countries that consume the most cheese are...wait for it...Greece, France, and Iceland.
3) Lactose intolerance is most prominent in Asian cultures, since cheese is not present in most traditional Asian diets.
4) Did you know there is such a thing as "Moose cheese"? Not too sure how I feel about that.
5) Good cheese tastes the best when consumed at room temperature
6) Some ancient Roman houses had a special kitchen, called a careale, just for making cheese...how insanely awesome is that? My dream home will have a careale...and we will also eat cereal in it so it has two functions.
7) Cheese dates way back to ancient Egypt. Turns out when King Tut was walking like an Egyptian it was a signal to bring more cheese
1. Midnight Moon - this nutty cheese is a rich, creamy, semi-hard goat's milk cheese that is a rare treat to indulge in. Ranging from $25-$35 / pound it makes for a special occasion treat. (FYI - most of my cheese knowledge comes from my older sister and her husband who have impeccable taste when it comes to good food.)
2. Piave Stravecchio - this cheese is similar to Parmesan in texture but with a stronger sharpness to it. This is a semi-affordable cheese, and tastes great on any cheese platter.
3. Sharp Cheddar - plain cheddar doesn't stand a chance standing next to a sharp cheddar. So good, you just have to keep eating it! My favorite kind of cheddar is Cabot's Vermont Sharp Cheddar. Make a grilled cheese with this baby and some nice crusty bread alongside a hot soup and a glimpse of heaven you will see.
4. Brie- My Dad is old school and always comes back from the grocery store with brie. I personally enjoy a good brie, but only when paired with a nice jam or fruit. My absolute favorite way to eat brie is baked and topped with cranberry sauce...check out this recipe for a super easy appetizer.
5. Gouda - This is a semi-hard cheese with a light flavor. A good cheese to snack on in between eating the stronger flavored ones. This cheese is also featured in one of my family's favorite movies, She's the Man, as a pick up line..."Do you like cheese?" "Why yes I do, my favorites gouda."
Also - If you do prefer the stronger flavored cheeses and your taste buds are a little overwhelmed - be sure to snack on some frozen grapes in between cheeses to cleanse your pallet.
Eat some cheese, pray for the soul of my Papa, and hug or call your grandparents if they are still around!
Eat your heart out!