cheeses

Grana Padano D.O.P. sponsors the Virtual Chef Series

Attention Italian food lovers!

Italy’s favorite cheese, Grana Padano D.O.P., will be sponsoring the Virtual Chef Series being held at the Culinary Institute in New York City (462 Broadway at Grand Street) on January 13 and January 14.

The Grana Padano Virtual Chef Series will be offering a free tasting of the foods and wines from a number of Italian companies at the Italian Culinary Academy, January 13, from 3-5 pm. This event is open to the public, but reservations are a must. For this event, please contact: amaxwell@frenchculinary.com.

The International Day of Italian Cuisines (IDIC), promoted by ITCHEFS-GVCI (www.itchefs-gvci.com) is dedicated to educating the world about authentic Italian cuisine. To demonstrate this theme, celebrated chefs from around the globe will be performing a rare act on Sunday, January 17: Cooking the same dish— Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese —on the same day via teleconference, using Grana Padano exclusively for the “recreation” of this age-old dish.

To find out which chefs and/or restaurants will be featuring this specialty on January 17, please go to this website and click on the various cities around the world: http://www.itchefs-gvci.com/IDIC2010/mapa.htm

Grana Padano has been part of Italy's gastronomic tradition and culture since 1135 when it was created by the monks in the Padana Valley in northern Italy. Based in Desenzano del Garda in the province of Brescia, Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Grana Padano was founded in 1954 by a group of businessmen who shared one common goal—to produce a top-quality cheese based on the traditional recipe.

Low in fat compared to other cheeses and lactose-free, Grana Padano is a versatile cheese with a sweet, nutty flavored taste that can be grated over pasta, served as an ‘antipasto’ or eaten as part of an easy, healthy delicious meal. Aged from nine months to 24 and up, Grana Padano pairs well with a variety of cuisines and makes an ideal part of a healthy diet.

“Grana” refers to the grainy and crumby texture of the cheese and “Padano” refers to its origin in the Po River Valley in northern Italy. Grana Padano is a registered trademark around the world, and since 1996 is a D.O.P Denominazione di Origine Protetta cheese awarded by the European Community in Brussels.


Cheese and beer make me want to cheer

This Irish cheese assortment is perfect for pairing with beer. Buy yours here. The next time you start to grab the obligatory bottle of white wine to serve with the cheese platter, don't do it.

Do instead what Europeans have been doing for ages. Grab a bottle of ale or lager. Bitter or buttery, beer goes great with all kinds of cheeses.

"Long the domain of fine wines, beer is entering the epicurean stage with sophisticated tastes and flavors that pair up perfectly with a variety of cheeses," states Roberta MacDonald, Vice President of Cabot Creamery.

Rich, fruity ales match up well with stronger tastes, such as red meat and extra sharp cheddars. Lighter lagers, on the other hand, pair better with poultry, fish and mild cheeses like mild cheddar or Monterey Jack. Think of ale as red wine and lager as white wine.

Hoppiness in beer is relative to acidity in wine. Beers that have significant hoppiness or bitterness, such as India Pale Ales, pair well with cheeses that are spicy or sharp.

Pair like with like--mild beers with mild foods, robust beers with robust dishes. Assertive Scottish and Belgian ales stand up well next to wild game. Fish and chicken match up with conservatively hopped pilsners and brown ales. A full-bodied porter with big roasted flavor matches up deliciously with strong flavors.


Sweet Rosita, She's a Peach Grilled Cheese

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And the winner is.. Still a few days to work on recipes.  But, If I do say so myself, this baby is pretty piquante.

Sweet Rosita, She's a Peach Grilled Cheese

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg

Whisk together and set aside

2 English muffins, split
2 oz English cheddar with caramelized onions
2 oz German Mountain Cheese
1/4 cup Spicy, Smoky Peach Salsa

*The three last ingredients may be purchased at Trader Joe's.

Melt 2 Tbs. butter in skillet on medium heat. Put cheddar cheese slices on bottom half of muffins, then spread each muffin with 1 tablespoon salsa and top with German Mountain cheese.  

Put muffin tops on and then dip quickly into egg-milk mixture. Do not allow to soak in mixture or the sandwich will be soggy.

Place dipped sandwiches in skillet and fry until golden, turning once to brown both sides.  

Serve hot, cut in half, with organic corn tortilla chips, the remaining salsa and a dollop of crema Mexicana. Garnish with cilantro. 


Sleepy Goat Cheese Farm: Happy Goats Make Strange and Wonderful Cheese

CONTRIBUTING WRITER   Maura Alia Badji

Fellow foodie Maura Badji. Read more of her musings on other subjects. A sunny day in the Seven Cities is a thing of beauty: water shimmering in the distance, budding trees swaying in the breeze, and a chance to slip off confining outerwear.  


The shiny Sunday I arrived at 5 Points Community Farm Market for Sleepy Goat Farm’s Cheese workshop was the first sunny day we’d had in over a week.  Virginians take fine weather seriously; only one other attendee showed.  More time with the goat people and their artisan cheeses for us, I said. 

 

The goat folk are Della Williams and Jon Dorman, both board-certified neurologists, and cheesemakers. Dorman hosted the cheese-tasting with gentle wit and infinite patience for questions, while Williams, who possesses a pleasantly sharp sense of humor, fed us samples of Pesto Goat Cheese Cake and Eggplant Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Pomegranate Molasses. 


The Pesto Goat Cheese Cake was a savory re-working of a sweet cheesecake recipe from the Joy of Cooking, substituting chevre for ricotta.  The delightful Eggplant Sandwiches were the perfect blend of savory and sweet; other recipes can be found here and in “What Do I Do With It?:  A few ideas about using goat cheese”, the Sleepy Goat Farm cookbook.

 

While she sautéed onions and coated eggplant slices with seasoned breadcrumbs, Williams shared some of Sleepy Goat Farm’s history.  The graceful Degas


In 1989 they had converted an old tobacco farm in Pelham, NC into what eventually became Sleepy Goat Farm, a 164 acre home farmstead. That same year they obtained Ethel, the first goat on the farm, and a coddled pet. 


Ethel, named for Dorman’s sister (who really did not see the humor in that honor), was so much a part of the family she spent much of her time visiting in the house, and napping by the pond with Williams. 


Napping with goats?  Is that the story behind the Sleepy Goat name?  No.  Williams is a sleep doctor, as well as a neurologist; there used to be a sleep lab on the farm.  These are cheese-makers with a sense of humor. 

In 2003, after a happy 10-year practice in Dubai, UAE, the doctors returned to the States and decided they wanted a change of pace.  They began building their happy herd of Oberhasli (Obie) milk goats. 


Their certified cheese-making business began in 2004, when they obtained a farmstead cheese license from the state of NC and began selling their hand-tended cheeses at farmer’s markets in nearby Danville, VA, and Hillsborough, NC. Williams and Dorman, helped by four assistants, make several types of both raw milk and aged goat milk cheeses.

Most of the cheeses are named for Impressionist painters, rather than carrying the traditional French names of various goat cheeses. They said they really felt they could not duplicate the Tommes and Bourcherons of France here in America. 


“The cheese takes on the character of the cheese-makers, the goat herd, and of the place,” Williams explained. 


Their charming and clever labels are designed by Janel Gaddy of Danville, VA.

The first cheese I tasted at the workshop was Picasso, their chevre, a soft and wonderfully versatile cheese which can easily be mixed with different flavors.  

“I tell people to think of chevre as they would olive oil, butter, or eggs in recipes,” Williams said.  The couple ask their customers to look at Picasso cheese as their canvas for artistic culinary expression. 

The Picasso chevre comes plain, and in Herbs de Provence, Italian Herbs, Paprika & Garlic, Jalapeno, Curry-Membrillo (quince paste),  California 5-pepper mix, and Chocolate (!) flavorings.  They’ll also make Lavender and Honey by special request. 

The next cheese I sampled was one of their more popular varieties, a new cheese created because Williams wanted a cheese somewhere between the aged cheeses and the chevre. 


The Rousseau, which is only sold during the milking season, is a milder, less salty cousin of feta.   Dorman offered up bites of Marinated Rousseau (recipe in Sleepy Goat Farm cookbook) from a jar filled with oil, herbs, and hot pepper.  Rousseau is a fine salad cheese; Williams likes it on rice cakes with fresh tomato, basil leaves and a drizzle of good olive oil. 

 

Finally, I tasted the Degas, an aged, washed curd cheese originally made only in French monasteries (the Saint Paulin style); it had a rich, sharp flavor.  This was followed by the Cezanne, their version of a Tomme, an aged raw milk cheese with a firm texture and a mild, mellow flavor. 


“You should always eat Degas first," Dorman advised. “If you eat Degas after Cezanne it will taste bitter.”  When asked why, the cheesemaker replied with a smile: “Cheese is strange.”  


My verdict: strange and delicious.

The Sleepy Goat Farm Cheeses are sold at many Farmer’s Markets in VA and NC.  Retail outlets include Midtown Market and Fish Bones in Danville, VA and The Briar Patch in Winston-Salem, NC. 


Plans for an online store at www.sleepygoatfarm.com are still in the works; look for it, possibly, this summer.  Until then, phone orders are available for shipping to VA, NC, and as far as NYC, for retail prices plus shipping and handling. 


Give Jon or Della a call @ 336-388-5388 for order/pricing inquiries.  Their address is 7215 Allison Road, Pelham, NC, 27311.  The farm is open to visitors on the 2nd Sunday of each month,between April and August, from 2-5 PM.