Take exceptional artisan cheeses and pair them with a cadre of chefs from prominent local restaurants, and the results are bound to be exciting, enticing, and all-around enjoyable, as we learned at California's Artisan Cheese Festival's Grand Tasting and Best in Cheese Competition. Click through to get inspired by our favorite cheese-packed bites from the event.
Vermont is home to some of the best cheese in America, and The Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company is a worthy one to know for several reasons. First, the cheese company formed as a community effort between a group of locals and investors to save a dairy farm on the brink of closure in South Woodstock, VT. The group then created a farmstead, meaning the company makes its cheeses from the milk produced on its dairy farm, rather than buying the milk from a separate farmer. It also happens to produce a number of award-winning cheeses. We first discovered Vermont Farmstead at the Fancy Food Show, and since then have fallen for two of its cheeses, the Lillé and AleHouse Cheddar.
In America, we'd probably call it an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich, but across the Atlantic in the British Isles, it's known as Welsh rarebit (also called Welsh rabbit). The dish consists of a beer and cheese sauce that is poured over a slice of toast. Dating back to 300 years ago, rarebit first made its appearance in taverns across Ireland and England. Who wouldn't want to pair their ale with a cheese toasty?
While there are various renditions of rarebit, this particular recipe features Guinness and Irish cheddar to make it St. Patrick's Day-appropriate. The cheesy spread doesn't look very appetizing after a whirl in the food processor, but after a trip to the broiler, it emerges bubbling, gooey, and impossible to resist. Comforting like the American classic but with bolder flavors from the beer, mustard, and cayenne, it's like a grilled cheese, all grown up.
When I was first introduced to fondue as a child by my fromage-fiend mother, I simply didn't get it. Granted, at the time I was in the throes of a regrettable melted-cheese phobia, so when we'd dine on this cheesy delight, I'd sullenly munch on cubes of crusty bread and the other accoutrement. Thankfully, I came to my senses in my teens, and have since dived into fondue-fanaticism full force.
Gooey and rich, this Swiss dish is meant to be lingered over with friends or a loved one, and is especially apropos during the chilly Winter months. Better yet, fondue is one of those seemingly fussy dishes that's extremely easy to re-create at home, provided one has the requisite equipment. Here I'm using a vintage fondue stand and a standard saucepan, but if I were to invest in another set-up it'd be this ingenious set-up from Trudeau
($80) that comes highly recommended by the fine folk at Cook's Country. Other than that it's just a bit of minor prep work (cubing bread, assembling other accoutrement, shredding cheese) and a quick turn in a pot and you're good to go. Just don't forget to pair it with good company and a glass (or two) of crisp white wine!
Learn more about the art of serving it when you keep reading.
Slices of pink grapefruit also adorn the salad. If you do not like the bitterness of grapefruit, try salting it before tossing the slices in with the greens. It neutralizes the tartness, letting the essence of the grapefruit flavor shine through. Slices of watermelon radish add a bit of crunch and vibrant color. Compared to other radishes out there, watermelon radish is mild in spiciness, plus it's fun to chomp on a naturally neon pink food!Finally, Point Reyes Toma, a semihard cow's milk cheese, provides a creamy, buttery counterpart to the salad. Everything is tossed in a very simple vinaigrette to let the fresh ingredients dazzle your taste buds.
Last week's Winter Fancy Food Show was full of chips, crackers, and a number of new food trends, but if there's one product that always characterizes the show, it has to be cheese: it's everywhere. As cheese lovers, we tasted as many as we could spot, and discovered nine that are so memorable, we guarantee they're worth hunting down.
- Olive oil, salt, and pepper: Give cottage cheese the Cal-Med treatment with a drizzle of peppery Tuscan olive oil, flaky sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. In Summer, during peak tomato season, insert fresh heirloom slices.
- "Everything bagel" spices: Friendship Dairies recommends mixing cottage cheese with bagel spices like dried onion, garlic flakes, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, and sea salt. Use the seasoned cheese to flavor a toasted plain bagel or bagel chip.
For two more, keep reading.