My very first Christmas with The Hubby and his family, I received a bunch of cheese-centric gifts from just about everyone and was touched by their thoughtfulness. I loved each item and the person who took the time and care to find them for me. It had nothing to do with how much they cost, or where they came from, it was all about the heart and love that went into the gift. I was the new girl, the crazy cheese-loving stranger in their home who they didn’t know from anyone, yet they knew one thing: I loved cheese. And they love cheese too, which made finding gifts a bit easier. So what is an easy gift for that cheese lover on the list? The one thing no fromage freak can ever have too much of? Cheese knives and boards! I know it’s getting late for Christmas shopping and the weather outside is pretty darn frightful, but these suggestions are easy and probably available right in that neighborhood gift shop you’ve walked by a dozen or so times and never stopped in. Well, why not stop in today? Continue reading
Tag Archives: Michigan
It’s April, and that means it’s National Grilled Cheese Month! A whole calendar page dedicated to gobbling up gooey sandwiches overflowing with glorious melted cheese. Grilled cheese has certainly come a long way from the days of white bread, Kraft American Cheese (product) and butter. Now, even some of the swankiest restaurants offer a signature grilled cheese on their menu along with a hefty price tag. In my area, Café Muse in Royal Oak, Michigan has even managed to snag a coveted “Favorite Things” recommendation from Oprah for their havarti, mozzarella and Danish fontina concoction. Continue reading
Someday I hope to eat my way through all the delicious and diverse cheeses of France. Preferably I will do this in France, but for now I must settle for my local cheesemongers to guide me. I am lucky to have several experienced mongers and the ones at Morgan and York in Ann Arbor, Michigan are some of the best.
On my most recent visit I had a chance to sample Saint Felicien, a soft subtle cheese from the Rhône-Alpes region (also known as caille-doux) and was pleasantly surprised.
Presented in a stone crock with a pale yellow rind, Saint Felicien hides a nutty, pillowy, slightly pungent flavor that is not normally found in a raw cow’s milk cheese. Best served with berries and sweet nuts. Avoid citrus and sour fruits (I made the mistake of tasting with Granny Smith apples. Trust me, just say no!)
I have heard this cheese is similar to Saint Marcellin however I have yet to taste it and cannot say for sure. It is on the French cheese tour so I am sure I will get to it soon. In the meantime, I have a little crock of goodness to satisfy me…for about five more minutes when it will be all gone! Bon Appetit!
Ypsilanti, Michigan gets kinda a bum rap. Referred to as the “Brooklyn” to Ann Arbor’s more affluent “Manhattan,” Ypsi (as it is commonly called) has a small population ranging from artsy hipsters to “Ypsitucky” country folk. I personally like Ypsi, especially the historic downtown area and Depot Town. The Mayberry-small-town feel, local color, spectacular architecture, and artistic flair makes Ypsi a fun and funky place to hang out.
No surprise that Michigan’s own Zingerman’s created a cheese to honor this tiny yet spry town. The Little Ypsi is Zingerman’s newest crottin. What’s a crottin? Historically, a crottin is a small round of pasturized goat’s cheese that starts off light and tangy while young, then hardens and becomes stronger and gamier with age.
The Little Ypsi I tasted was in its mid stage with a bit of a hard, yellow rind and cream cheese-like texture underneath. I really liked the fresh, salty flavor with a bit of a nutty zing (no pun intended) as it warms to room temperature. Granny Smith apple slices add the perfect balance of tart and sweet on the palate.
Available at Zingerman’s Creamery online or at the store location in Ann Arbor, I recommend giving both The Little Ypsi and its namesake town a visit.
Photo source: Flickr
One of my favorite places to eat in Ann Arbor is Zingerman’s Roadhouse on Jackson Avenue. Part of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, the Roadhouse cooks up amazing down-home goodness and even encourages customers to “try it before you buy it” by offering samples of menu items. Co-owners Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw bring in the highest quality of ingredients from around the country and the food is all the better for it.
Terry is my favorite waiter at Zingerman’s. His love of cheese rivals mine and he always has the perfect suggestions. Looking for some lighter selections than I am use to (as you may have guessed, I love the pungent, stinky stuff) I wanted to see how the mild side tasted. Terry’s first recommendation was Creamery Great Lakes Cheshire. This is the only American-made Cheshire to date and like its UK brother, this cheese has a hard crumbly texture that becomes smooth on the tongue with a subtle, grassy flavor. A bit of an acidic bite (most likely from the animal rennet) but by no means unpleasant. Next came a Quebec Chevre Noir (center) and is the only Canadian cheese Zingerman’s sells. This award-winning cheese has a firm, dense and flaky in texture yet melts in your mouth with a nutty, herb-like essence. Finally, a 3-year-old Asiago (top right) was a surprise. Usually aged for a year, I expected this Asiago to be sharp and intense. Surprisingly, I found it to be smooth, sweet, and even on the palate.
All three cheeses were wonderful, but if I had to pick a favorite I would say it was the chevre. Next time you find yourself in Ann Arbor, check out Zingerman’s Roadhouse and ask for Terry. Tell him Robin sent you!
The grapes pictured are oven roasted with a balsamic vinegar toss. Amazing and easy to make. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, toss grapes lightly in balsamic vinegar, roast for 10 minutes and enjoy. These sweet and savory treats pair with both intense and mild cheeses.
How totally cool is this? According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who eat full fat cheese gain less weight than those who abstained from dairy. I cannot tell all of you how happy this makes me. As most of us Fat Cats do each January, I have made my resolution to work out more, eat right, and exercise. I figured this meant saying bye bye to my beloved ricotta from Morgan and York (my guilty pleasure at the moment). Nay nay, I say! Bring on the fromage!!!!!
This stinky, funky, pungent, and amazingly tasty cheese is my White Whale. I had my first taste of Stinking Bishop two years ago at the Whole Foods in Ann Arbor. The aroma was a mixture of wet dog and athletic shoes after a 10K. Not for the faint of stomach, to be sure. Then I took a bite and just lapsed into silence (a feat nearly impossible as those who know me can attest). I was in heaven! This aggressive yet smooth cheese had a powerful and earthy flavor that just wafted through my mouth. I know strong-smelling cheese isn’t most people’s idea of awesome, but I could eat a whole 5lb wheel of this stuff without so much as a soda cracker. Stinking Bishop was by far the strongest cheese I had tasted and it soared to the top of my list of must -haves. And then it was gone.
Stinking Bishop rose to popularity after it was used to revive the main character in the movie Wallace and Gromit Curse of the Wererabbit. Demand grew 500% within a month. Unfortunately, this unctuous treasure has a limited production of only 20 tons a year (that’s less than half the normal production of most artisan cheeses). With such high demand, Stinking Bishop vanished from cheesemongers’ cases.
It has been a year and a half since I tasted my elusive delicacy. Requests at my local Whole Foods are met with a sad shake of the head or pathetic shrug of shoulders. I could order it online, but I fear the unknown distributor. Some dishonest shyster who tries to pass off Epoisse as my aromatic Bishop. And so I search in hope if one day procuring that creamy, stinky gold once more.