Friday, June 27, 2014

Maytag Blue: A Great American Blue Cheese

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Maytag Blue Cheese is made in Iowa on the Maytag family farm in Newton Iowa and has been a prized American farmstead cheese since the early 1940's. 

 Maytag Blue is made from unpasteurized cow's milk  from the Holstein - Friesian cows that graze on the farm and Penicillium Roqueforti molds. Each step of its production is still done by hand. The raw milk is entered into vats and rennet is added to form the curd. The curd is then ladled into hoops and formed into four pound wheels. The cheese wheels are then seeded with the mold and left to age for six months in cellars on the farm. When the cheeses are fully aged they are wrapped in Maytag's iconic blue and silver foil.

The finished cheeses have a light straw colored paste and ample blue veining, a nice peppery zing and wonderful crumbly but creamy texture. Maytag Blue's flavor will become more assertive as it ages and this cheese holds up well so this is not a bad thing. If you enjoy Roquefort, Cabrales or Stilton give this American classic a try and I promise that you will not be disappointed.

When shopping for Maytag Blue do not purchase any that have a grayish tint to the paste or are excessively runny. These are signs of excessive aging and will make for a very unpleasant purchase . As noted above this cheese will hold up pretty well so wrap it in wax paper or tin foil and place it in the refrigerator but remember to keep it separated from other foods and cheeses.

You can serve Maytag Blue crumbled over salads or melt it over grilled burgers. It also makes a great blue cheese dressing.

Wine pairing: Strong domestic reds or sweet whites like Sauternes. It also goes well with medium bodied ales.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Halloumi: The Grilling Cheese From Cyprus

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Halloumi is a cheese from the island of Cyprus and is often called the grilling cheese. In 2006 Halloumi was allowed to be promoted in the United States, Europe and Canada through an agreement with the Cyprus Ministry of Commerce and Tourism. This agreement has opened the doors of export to these three markets and has made this interesting and unique cheese easier to find.

Hallumi is made from sheep milk in the old traditional way in both small villages and modern factories. The milk is pasteurized and then allowed cool before the rennet is added. When the curd has formed it is pressed into molds and cooked in the expelled whey water. The cheese is then dry salted, folded, seasoned with fresh mint and brined for 24 hours. The resulting cheeses are then vacuum packed and aged while being kept refrigerated below 7C /44.6F

Halloumi has an odd mouth feel that is almost rubbery and it squeaks when chewed. This may seem strange or  unbelievable, but it is true. The cheese has an off white paste that has a semi firm texture, and a slightly salty milky flavor with a touch of mint. Another unique aspect of this cheese is that it does not melt when it is heated so it is great for grilling or skewered with meat and vegetables. This cheese is wonderful when it is grilled to a golden yellow on both sides and served with eggs or sauteed vegetables. It is also great grilled  on top of crusty bread covered with bruschetta. The locals on Cyprus enjoy it served at room temperature with chilled watermelon during the summer. Even though it is semi firm Halloumi can be shredded and used in omelets and over salads.

Halloumi has become quite popular and can be found in most supermarkets and specialty food shops.Try to find the Shepherds of Cyprus brand if possible.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Limburger Germany's Stinky Cheese

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Limburger was first produced  by Trappist monks in the Limburg region of Belgium during the early 19th century. The cheese quickly became popular and was copied by the Germans who began to produce it in the Allgau region. It's fame has grown worldwide and is now considered a German original.

Limburger is a washed rind, pasteurized cow's milk cheese that has a strong pungent aroma. The rind is thin, sticky and edible with a pale orange to light brown color and distinctive corrugated ridges.The interior paste has a pale straw or white color. As this cheese ages it will soften and become almost runny. The flavor is mild, grassy and mushroomy with a slight tang on the finish. Overall this is a one dimensional and somewhat disappointing cheese but this is not meant to say that it should be dismissed. However if you are looking for a stinky cheese with more depth of flavor try Alsatian Munster, Epoisse or Taleggio

When shopping for Limbuger look for foil-wrapped 8oz packages that are not soft or bulging or you may be in for a very unpleasant purchase. Please remember that Limburger will have a strong aroma but then again that is part of it's allure.

Limburger can be served with raw vegetables, fruit and crackers. It also goes well with salty fish like sardines and anchovies.

Parings: Malty Beers