Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Own Shannon T Featured in the Portland Press Herald!

Here at 37 Cooks, we have cooks with a wide variety of cooking experience. Shannon T is a cheese expert and the author of the blog, Edible Obsessions. She was recently featured in an article for Thanksgiving but her advice in this article can apply to Hannukah and Christmas festivities as well. Shannon says, "A good cheese plate isn't restricted by one singular religion or holiday (though, you might be more inclined to look for Kosher or vegetable rennet based cheeses for Jewish Holidays). Cheese should have a place at every holiday table. Heck, there are so many bark wrapped cheeses out there that they could even be celebrated on Arbor Day!" - 37 Cooks

Shannon T at Whole Foods says that when you're considering putting a cheese plate together, working in odd numbers is always best because it stands out to the eye. She tends to work with either three or five cheeses when the plate is to be served before a meal, or three when it's to be presented after a meal.
For a dessert plate, Tallman leans toward sweeter, nuttier and creamier cheeses that tend to be paired with dessert wines or Champagne, and stays away from the assertive, dense or meaty-type cheeses that make a better before-meal option.
Tallman's first suggestion for a Thanksgiving cheese plate focuses on regional cheeses. Here are her selections and reasons for choosing them, in her own words:
"Nettle Meadow's Kunik from Warrensburg, N.Y., in the Adirondack area of upstate New York. Kunik is a triple-creme brie that is made with goat's milk that's had Jersey cow cream cut into it. The cow's cream takes the tanginess of the goat's milk down a level and adds more richness to the cheese. It's unbelievably buttery and rich, with a great brightness that you get from any goat's milk cheese.
"Landaff Creamery's Landaff from Landaff, N.H. This is a great cheese for those who love cheddar, though it's not technically a cheddar. It's a raw milk cheese that has a little bit of spice from the unpasteurized milk, but overall, is a wonderfully creamy, grassy and mild cheese. It's also cave-aged in the Cellars of Jasper Hill Farms.
"Jasper Hill Farms Bayley Hazen Blue from Greensboro, Vt. The holidays tend to be the season for Stilton from England. I actually prefer this raw-milk cousin to it from Vermont. It's more mild than its English counterpart and has lovely notes of toasted hazelnuts and, sometimes, licorice."
"For the second plate, I would choose three 'desert island' cheeses," Tallman said. "These are favorites that I go back to again and again to bring to family and friends around the holidays.
"Delice D'argental: A gorgeous triple-creme brie from the Burgundy region of France. Where the Kunik is cut with cows milk, this has the added level of creme fraiche mixed in. Add that onto a higher-than-usual butterfat, and you have one of the most luxurious, indulgent bries out there. I call it the 'Oh, my!' cheese, because that's the reaction most people have when they try it for the first time. I would take a wedge of this over a dish of ice cream any day of the week.
"Quadrello di Bufala: This is a buffalo milk cheese from the Lombardia region of Italy. Many people are familiar with buffalo milk mozzarella, but may be completely unaware that other cheeses are made with their milk. It's basically a Talegio-style cheese, so it's a bit stinkier than most, but that doesn't translate to being a pungent cheese. In fact, this cheese is unbelievably sweet and creamy and much more mild than the more traditional cow's milk version of Talegio.
"Rogue River Creamery's Rogue River Blue: This creamery is located in Central Point, Ore., and their focus is mostly blue cheese. In fact, my absolute favorite blue cheese is their Rogue River Blue, which is only available a few months out of the year. Luckily for us, the season starts right before the holidays and will last until early spring.
"This raw milk blue is wrapped in grape leaves that have been soaked in locally made pear brandy, so it's sweet, but not cloyingly so. The blue veining adds a bit of pepper to the cheese, but it's not an overly strong blue. I could easily sit down with a wedge of this, a baguette, a little honey and call it dinner.
"I would definitely encourage people to pair some honey, jam and nuts with any of these cheeses. I always have a bottle of locally produced Sparky's Raw Honey on hand for a cheese plate, but am also a fan of the Savannah Bee Company's Tupelo honey, which has notes of caramel in it.
"No cheese plate would be complete without Marcona almonds or carmelized walnuts to add texture and a break from all the rich cheese."

To read the entire article, click here.

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