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Canape
Everything from cheese plates to canapés can have more zing with flavored cheese. Here, Jalapeno Co-Jack from Loleta Cheese Factory and Emmenthaler are combined with red-leaf lettuce, a pitted olive and a grape tomato on a toasted bread round (first toast, then use a cookie cutter). Photo by Eugene Bochkarev | IST.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

STEPHANIE ZONIS focuses on good foods and the people who produce them.

 

 

April 2008
Last Updated July 2012

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cheese-Butter-Yogurt

Flavored Cheeses: Beyond Smoke & Herbs

Part VI: Artisan Cheeses With Unusual Flavors

 

 

This is Page 6 of a six-part article on flavored cheeses. You can click to the different pages via the black links below.

Other Flavors, Unexpected Tastes

Why buy sausage or salami to go with your cheese, when Sugarbush Farm in Vermont has a Smoked Cheese With Salami? It’s the company’s regular hickory- and maple- smoked Cheddar with bits of salami and spices. Why didn’t I think of this first? All you’ll need is bread and fruit, or perhaps just a good beer.

If you’re looking for something a lot more unconventional, how about oats? Zingerman’s Creamery makes Argyle, a seasonal, fresh, cows’ milk cheese, blended with cream and shaped into half logs that are rolled in toasted pinhead oatmeal (steel-cut oats). Before receiving the cheese, I wondered if the uncooked oats would retain too much of their hard texture. But they absorb liquid from the cheese and soften nicely. Zingerman’s recommends this as a breakfast cheese, and I agree; it’s lovely spread on bread, with a little drizzle of honey on top.

Continuing with breakfast items on the outside of the cheese, how about your morning Joe? Barely Buzzed, made by Beehive Cheese Company, separately roasts South American, Central American, and Indonesian coffee beans to varying degrees, then grinds them with French lavender buds. The blend is diluted with a little oil and rubbed onto the rind of the cheese. Wild stuff! The rind becomes an attractive, powdery brown (see the photo at right), and delivers a nose of coffee aroma. The rind isn’t meant to be eaten, although the rub imparts coffee notes to the cheese. Coffee drinkers should enjoy this unique product. 

If you love truffles as much as many of the folks at THE NIBBLE, one of the most inexpensive ways to enjoy them is via truffle cheese. The cheese makers use bits and pieces that have fallen off the precious truffles during handling.

Beehive Cheese Barely Buzzed
If you can’t find the cheeses locally, you can get excellent-quality varieties from iGourmet.com. They’ll also send lovely gift packages to your favorite Italian cook.

There are fine truffle cheeses made; most are with pieces of black truffle. Truffle Tremor from California’s Cypress Grove Chevre, with dots of black truffles throughout, is one of the best we’ve had, imbued with truffle aroma and flavor (see photo below). A bloomy-rind cheese, it has a moist paste and while a luxurious table cheese, is not right to make macaroni and cheese. But if you find a semi-hard truffle cheese, substitute it in your recipe for the best celestial mac and cheese you’ve ever had.

And be sure try Truffleur, produced by Tumalo Farms in Oregon. This is another semisoft goat cheese, infused with native Oregon white truffles, then aged three to four months. It’s rare to find a white truffle cheese. The flavor and aroma are distinctively different from black truffles. Because the cheese is relatively mild, the truffle flavor really comes through at the finish—wonderful! Bear in mind that this cheese is seasonal; it’s usually available only in January and February. Availability is, of course, dependent upon the white truffle harvest. 
Cypress Grove Chevre Truffle Tremor
Cypress Grove Chevre’s Truffle Tremor. You’ll feel the earth quake under you when you’ve had your first bite. Photo courtesy of MurraysCheese.com.

  

It’s my hope that one or more of the delicacies in this article will start you on a flavored-cheese exploration. There are even more categories to explore. Leaves, such as chestnut leaves, can be used to flavor cheeses; ash is an ancient cheese flavoring. I wouldn’t try an ashed cheese for years, because I couldn’t get past the idea that I’d be consuming ashes. When I finally tried one, I realized what I’d been missing.

So treat yourself to some flavored cheeses—the change will do you (and your taste buds) good!

 

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