Quick Bites: A Sartori Limited Edition Cheese Board

Sartori Cheese Board

Sartori Cheese Board: photo courtesy of The House Mouse

Although a cheese purist at heart, there is just something about the flavor combinations Sartori Cheese infuses into their already-incredible BellaVitano that makes my taste buds happy. I always have a wedge of Espresso BellaVitano on hand for snacking as it is readily available at most stores in the area, however it isn’t as easy to find some other, Limited Edition varieties. Fortunately, Sartori graciously sent me a sample of their Peppermint BellaVitano which they made in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. I also happened upon a small wedge of Rum Runner BellaVitano, a rare Whole Foods exclusive and a wedge of Limited Edition Cognac BellaVitano. Taking advantage of my good fortune and the opportunity to break in my new cheese board I received over the holidays from the my brother & sister-in-law, I set up a small afternoon snack.

For me, Espresso BellaVitano is just perfection and I could eat a wedge of it in one sitting. Roasted espresso ground semi-fine and then hand-rubbed into the crystally, sugary, sweet wheels of pasteurized cow’s milk cheese is a luscious mouthful of happiness. The flavor balance of salty, nutty, dessert-like cheese easily pairs with a cup of the finest coffee or espresso (of course), a glass of Cabernet, or a pint of chocolate stout. My sister-in-law and I really enjoy Espresso BellaVitano, however our guys, who are not big coffee drinkers, say they prefer to cut the rind off and just enjoy the cheese sans espresso. I don’t understand them or their twisted palates.

I hadn’t heard much about Rum Runner and neither had the mongers at the Whole Foods where I found it so I was not sure what to expect. There wasn’t anything on the Sartori website about it either so I went into this tasting blind. Made from the same base cow’s milk cheese as the Espresso, the Rum Runner is soaked in Heath Rum from North Woods Distillery in Coleman, Wisconsin. The rum gives the cheese a slightly sweet, toffee flavor, like a Heath Bar. Get it? I was worried the flavor would be syrupy or too intense, but it was surprisingly mild and well balanced. The natural flavors from the cheese still come through even after the 45 proof rum-soaking while the alcohol leaves just a trace of flavor. Pair this with a snifter of brandy or a hard cider by the fire on a cold winter night if you can find it.

Cognac BellaVitano has been my Sartori White Whale. I looked high and low for a wedge since November and only just found a very small wedge last week. When they say Limited Edition, they aren’t kidding around. Steeped for 7-10 days in Rémy Martin Cognac, the aroma of this cheese is intense and a bit intimidating. The flavors of oak, vanilla, and I detected a hint of orange are the first to grab the tongue followed by a silky smooth burnt caramel at the back of the throat. It’s very much like drinking a glass of really great cognac. I will say that a little of this goes a long way, so I’m fine with my tiny sample. I had a hard time pairing this one as it is almost a cheese and a beverage in one. I’m actually still at a loss and would welcome some suggestions.

Finally, the Peppermint BellaVitano. I was skeptical about this cheese when I first saw it and it actually frightened me a bit. Mint and cheese just did not compute in my brain, yet here it is on my board with its pink rind and the Sartori name…I had to try it. Someone in the Sartori Cheese R&D department must have been blessed with the Willy Wonka gene because Peppermint BellaVitano is amazingly delectable. It shouldn’t work, but the subtle hint of mint mixed with the sweet cream and salt of the milk fat just works in a fine flavor dance. Use it in a cheesecake or melted into a Monte Cristo sandwich as an extra kick. Pair it with a rosé or Beaujolais Gamay wine or even a Saison beer. Anything light and fruity would work.

I’ll still keep trying all of Sartori Cheese Limited Edition variations as they are introduced, including the newest one announced this past week, Citrus Ginger BellaVitano…if I can find it. I do like them all, but my favorite is still the Espresso BellaVitano. Probably a good thing since I can find it most anywhere I shop. Happy hunting and Stay Cheesy!

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Cheese

Happy Cheesy New Year! The House Mouse Seeks an Education in Fermentation

IMG_4659

Over the past five years, I have written about cheese from the point of view of a cheese lover and enthusiast, wanting to spread the love of cheese far and wide. My story, while quirky isn’t new; child grows up loving cheese, only eats cheese, discovers there is more to food than cheese, still decides to write about mostly cheese. I have met some incredible folks over the years who I consider rock stars of the cheese world. People like Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s Deli and one of the most motivating speakers I have ever heard.  Maitre Fromager and author Max McCalman; his books are my fromage bibles. James Beard Award-winning author Laura Werlin who sat next to me in a restaurant in North Carolina and it was awesome and I totally embarrassed myself by telling her so. Co-founder of Culture Magazine, Kate Arding, who recently opened her own shop called Talbot & Arding in Hudson, New York. Kate may be one of the most influential people I have ever met and she probably doesn’t even know it. Early on, when I began writing The House Mouse, Kate actually read my blog, commented from time to time and encouraged me to keep writing, even when I doubted myself and wanted to quit. There are so many others I have met, fellow bloggers, cheesemakers, etc. and after all this time, I realize something…I feel like I still don’t know much more than when I started about cheese. I mean, I know some basics, but after five years I feel I should at least have made my first batch of ricotta or be able to explain animal and vegetable rennet better. Nope. My fermentation education when it comes to cheese gets a C plus at best. So, The House Mouse New Years Resolution…a cheesy education. At least a better, more structured one. Now all I need is to know where to start. This is my question to my cheese peeps out there. I would love some guidance, suggestions, anything as to where I might begin. I have some books (see above) and I am already an American Cheese Society member, but there are no monger jobs in the area (a common suggestion) so any other suggestions would be great.

I’m looking forward to an enlightening new year full of fabulous fromage and fun factoids. Feel free to comment anytime and remember to Stay Cheesy!

The House Mouse

1 Comment

Filed under Cheese

Holiday Cheesy Gift Guide 2014 – Cheese Baskets, Boxes, and Cheese of the Month

Affineur grande: Photo courtesy of Artisanal Cheese

Affineur grande: Photo courtesy of Artisanal Cheese

With Christmas fast approaching and Chanukah coming to a close it’s time to get serious about those gift-giving decisions. Fortunately, our friendly cheesemakers, cheese shops, and cheese websites can help play Chanukah Charlie and Santa by offering up some awesome swanky baskets, boxes and Cheese-Of-The-Month-Clubs to ship out to our loved ones. The Artisanal Premium Cheese Club  is always a great way to go, but there are many more to chose from as well. Check out some of the fabulous fromage gifts below , but don’t delay today is the last day for shipping for a Cheesy Christmas delivery! Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Cheese

Holiday Cheesy Gift Guide 2014 – Cheese Art by Mike Geno

Cheese Prints by Mike Geno: Photograph taken by The House Mouse

Cheese Prints by Mike Geno: Photograph taken by The House Mouse

With the holidays fast approaching, it may seem like a cheese plate, markers,  or set of knives would be the obvious choice for the turophile on your gift list. While these tokens are nice and can be thoughtful, they tend to get a bit overdone and can be a bit obvious.  Let’s face it – while these cheesy gifts are appreciated, more often than not, they end up being shoved into a drawer only to be brought out on special occasions… like next Christmas. How about giving a fromage find that will be front and center all year long… something like cheese art? Where does one find such a thing? Artist Mike Geno can help.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Cheese

Holiday Cheeses and The House Mouse Festivus Cheese Book Giveaway

Thanksgiving Cheeseboard: Photo taken by The House Mouse

Thanksgiving Cheeseboard: Photo taken by The House Mouse

When it comes to holiday meals, I try to be kind to those I love and spare them the potential of food poisoning by bringing the cheese. It is just safer that way and also, to be honest, gets a ton of compliments and I feel like a total rock star for the first few hours as we await the main dishes being created in the kitchen. Then my brother-in-law’s three kinds of turkey (including a confit), my sister-in-law’s magic brusselsprouts, and my other sister-in-law’s yearly creation of awesome knock our socks off and the cheese stands alone. This year, I wasn’t taking any chances and decided to bring in the big guns and show I could hang with the best of them in our family version of Kitchen Stadium. Let’s just say, Game, Set, Match.  Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Cheese

Mental Floss (with the help of Liz Thorpe) Answer Cheesy Question: Why Do They Dye Cheese Yellow

Every week, the guys and gals at Mental Floss select a question posted by viewers in the dubally do below the video (those are author John Green of MentalflossVlogBrothers words, not mine) and then create a video with the answer, posting it in one of their various Mental Floss subcategories. This past week on the Big Question, Craig Benzine, star of YouTube video series and blog WheezyWaiter answered BtotheRandon’s (online user name of Bridget Kline) question: Why is cheese dyed yellow?

According to cheese consultant, author of “The Cheese Chronicles”, and all-around cheese goddess, Liz Thorpe, it depends on where a person lives.”People’s preference for white versus yellow is mostly cultural. Wisconsin is yellow cheddar territory. Vermont is white cheddar.” Be sure to check out the video above for more about the history of cheese coloring. I know you are dying know the answers…cheesy pun. Couldn’t resist.

Like what you watched? Be sure to subscribe hit the subscribe button in the “dubally do below” the video

Stay Cheesy!

DFTBA

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cheese

Exclusive! Andy Hatch’s Upland’s Experiment Hits Zingerman’s Deli in Limited Quantities

Upland's Experiment

Upland’s Experiment photo by The House Mouse

Cheese lovers nationwide were devastated when cheesemaker Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese Company decided to stop making his famous Rush Creek Reserve indefinitely. The spruce-wrapped, raw-milk cheese was the nearest we Americans had to the coveted French-style Mont d’Or and the thought of not having it on our holiday cheese boards was heartbreaking. When asked if he had anything else new in his cheese caves to make up for this terrible loss, Hatch’s stock answer has always been that he is experimenting with something new. After two years, the experiment seems to have paid off, even if it is in limited time. Presented in extremely limited quantities: Upland’s Experiment. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Cheese