The rind of a cheese can tell you a lot. In the case of Parmigiano Reggiano, it can tell you its life story.
Or at least most of it: the wheels that survived the double whammy of two major earthquakes earlier this year will not bear any markings of their travails.
All told, the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano estimates the damages to its producers from the quakes to be upward of $185 million. Thousands of wheels, having cracked in their fall, had to be sent directly to grating facilities; other damaged wheels were broken up and sold in special sales in an effort to recoup some of the enormous loss. An 80-pound wheel of certified Parmigiano Reggiano can sell for as much as $1,000; the same cheese without the certification goes for a fraction of the cost.
In Quechua, the language of the Inca and many modern-day Peruvians, papa cashqui means “potato soup.” The traditional dish uses hearty potatoes, fresh quesillo, and a variety of herbs to create a soup that is filling, nutritious, and flavorful.
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the potatoes, and sauté for an additional minute. Add the vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.
Homemade Peruvian Cheese: Quesillo, the popular fresh cheese of Andean Peru, is quick and easy to make
When the Spanish arrived in the Incan Empire in 1528, they encountered a culture with highly sophisticated trade and agrarian systems.
Roads and runners so effectively connected the 300,000-square-mile kingdom that it was possible to deliver fresh seafood from the Pacific Coast to Cusco, more than 200 miles away and 11,000 feet above sea level, in less than two days. This network spanned a varied landscape, from the arid Pacific Coast to the Amazon River Basin, laying the foundation for a diverse culinary tradition that is now one of the hottest trends in international cuisine.
This typical peasant soup gains its deep flavor from simple means: slowly caramelizing onions over low heat with a little wine. Regional Swiss ingredients—Appenzeller cheese, Riesling wine— add a hearty contrast of flavors.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring frequently, until they are a deep golden brown, about 35 minutes.
Add the wine; increase the heat to high and deglaze, stirring until the mixture is thickened and reduced. Add the beef stock and leaves of the thyme sprigs. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Finding the perfect wine for a cheese is a very noble pursuit, but far more useful as a dinner finale is finding cheeses to go with the dregs of whatever you happened to be drinking with the meal. With that challenge in mind, here are three templates that will help you make the best of those remaining sips.
The Bubbly Plate
Leftover bubbly is often hard to come by, but in the rare instances you have a couple of glasses left, you’re in for a treat: sparkling wine is the most refreshing companion to cheese available. Richer styles tend to be the most versatile, and Crémants from Alsace, often made from pinot blanc, tend to offer some of the best values out there; likewise, richer cheeses tend to be the best pairings, a balance to the high acidity inherent in sparkling wine and the cleansing effect of the bubbles.
Inviting a cheesemaker to a party of student winemakers might seem like an easy catering solution, but you may get more than you bargain for.
Sarah Bennett was working on her master’s degree in viticulture and enology at the University of California–Davis when she met and befriended Erika Scharfen, who was studying animal science and had previously worked as a cheesemaker in France. When Scharfen came along to a wine department get-together, “she wasn’t really saying much while these wine geeks picked apart the wines,” according to Bennett, “but then the cheese came out, and she described them using the exact same terms! We were speaking the same language.” After that, she adds, “we tasted a lot of cheeses and began talking about a farmstead creamery.”
Reminiscent of fried Spanish tapas, these patties have a crisp crust offset by a molten interior. They are inspired by a seasonal gratin of potato, pumpkin, greens, and Tarentaise with duck by Chef Brian Shaw at Fair Hill Inn, in Elkton. They pair equally well with white and red wines.
If you’re not near a supply of Barry’s New Zealand cheddar, splurge on a piece of assertive American cheddar for these individual soufflés, such as Cabot Clothbound or Hook’s aged cheddar from Wisconsin.
Heat the oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil the milk, onion, nutmeg, and bay leaves. Pull from the heat, and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, reserving the milk.
Late-season tomatoes are dusted with hot smoked paprika to achieve a meaty quality that pairs well with Malbec. Serve this chunky dip with slices of good bread to soak up the unctuous stew of tomato and goat cheese, inspired by an appetizer of Baked Goat Cheese Served Warm with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Toasts from Chef Jill Barron at Mana Food Bar in Chicago.
Barron’s philosophy: “My thoughts on pairing wine are pretty simple. I don’t pair vegetarian dishes with superheavy wines. It’s like pairing with cheese plates. We really won’t get a wine just because it’s trendy or a buzzword grape, and as a drinker of mostly whites, I shy away from oaky, buttery wines.”
This summer, culture editor Elaine Khosrova sat down with Whole Foods Global Cheese Buyer Cathy Strange and asked some great questions about Cathy's long and successful career in cheese. Here are the highlights of the interview, and stay tuned for video footage of the conversation!
I grew up and went to college in North Carolina, wanting to be involved in professional athletics. But the opportunities for women were mostly in teaching, so I went down the road of getting a degree in education. I’m certified to teach K through 12.
After college I workedas a tennis coach for a university in Tennessee. It was fantastic—I really enjoyed being around young individuals during an exploratory part of their life.