Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chicago Cheese

I just got back from Chicago, visiting some family, and the last couple of times, I have gotten to stop by the Oak Park cheese shop called Marion Street Cheese Market. (http://www.marionstreetcheesemarket.com/) My favorite thing about going to a cheese shop in a different city is the different variety…Chicago is able to pull in more types of cheese from the northern states as well as local farmers in the northern Illinois area, so there is always something new to try.

This time, they finally had some Zingerman’s goat cheese (http://www.zingermanscreamery.com/cheeses/) in stock, from Ann Arbor, MI, which I cannot find in St. Louis. Zingerman’s is a well-known deli up in Michigan and I found out about them in one of my cheese classes. The cheeses I tried were both goat: Detroit Street Brick (in a brick shape!) and the Lincoln Log (in a log shape!) and both were fantastic. I really enjoyed the soft bloom around the edges of the Detroit Street Brick, but the Lincoln Log had the better flavor.

I also picked up a Gruyere that my niece ate most of and a 10-year aged cheddar. Unfortunately, the cheddar had a bitter finish to it so I’m thinking that maybe it’s better stick to a three to six year aged cheddar. At least I can say that I tried it!

Speaking of cheese, earlier this week was another cheese class hosted by Whole Foods. 8 of 10 who showed up were from our group of friends and the other one was a Whole Foods employee. It’s starting to get scary how our attendance now dictates whether or not the class happens so I think this means we really need to start getting the word out more. It’s really tough when classes are scheduled on the same day and we have to decide which one to go to.

Anyway, this month’s cheese class theme was “local” cheeses although almost all of the cheeses came from the Kansas City area. Three of the five cheeses came from Green Dirt Farm (http://www.greendirtfarm.com/) and we started off with the Wooly Rind, which is a Camembert style cheese made out of sheep’s milk. Sheep’s milk cheese, well sheep in general, is pretty rare in Missouri! To me, it tasted like mild brie and went well with the champagne it was paired with. Next was the Bossa and it was quite a big step up in flavor and more creamy flavor, so a sweet wine was paired with this. (I took some Bossa home with me and now it’s a “stinky” cheese too! Woah!)

Skipping to a Yummy’s Choice cheese spread (http://www.yummyschoice.com/), we got to taste Lebaneh, which is a combination of feta and cream cheese flavored with olive oil and various spices and herbs. Wow…you can really taste the spices and herbs and you’ll never want to go back to regular cream cheese after tasting this! We also got to add a little bit of Shatta on top of it, which is a jalepano spread that you can get in either sweet or spicy. A little bit of the spice goes a LONG way!

Going back to Green Dirt Farm, the last one we tried was called “Dirt Lover” and it was a triple crème, like butter! I had to have a cracker or knife to be able to eat it and this was paired with a strong red wine so that the tannins could balance out the creaminess.

Last but not least, we finished the class with a Prairie Breeze cheddar that is actually produced by a Mennonite family based in SE Iowa (Milton) - http://www.miltoncreamery.com/. We spread cranberry chutney on top of the mild cheddar and it was just like eating dessert!

In future Whole Foods news, there will be one last seafood class in November!