The timeless charm of the tropical Azores, an archipelago off the coast of Portugal, is captured in Azores Flores, a new cheese produced on Flores Island, one of the region’s smallest and easternmost locales. The islands were an ancient port for trade ships traveling between Europe, India, and America, and their dairies have long been known for the quality of their cheesemaking. This light-bodied, creamy pasteurized cow’s milk cheese is named for the abundance of flowers and fauna covering Flores Island. Crafted in 18-pound wheels and aged 90 days, it has a well-balanced flavor and clean finish.
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Cheese might seem like a wholesome business on the surface, but here at culture we’re not afraid to peel back the wax and give you a taste of the gamier side:
Dec. 7, 2005,
Memphis, TN (AP):
Jessica Sandy Booth, 18, was arrested over the weekend and charged with four counts of attempted murder and four counts of soliciting a murder . . . According to police, Booth was in the intended victims’ home last week when she mistook a block of queso fresco for cocaine, inspiring the idea to hire someone to break into the home, take the drugs, and kill the men . . . “Four men were going to lose their lives over some cheese,” said Lt. Jeff Clark.
She reportedly needed the money to pay a modeling agency fee.
That story is merely a case of mistaken identity, but as both a luxury item and a fungible commodity, the real thing attracts its share of fraudsters, mobsters, and thieves.
Photographer Wil Edwards discovers modern art in some cheese rinds you may know.
Notes in order of appearance:
Vella Dry Jack Special Select - Firm pasteurized cow's milk cheese with a cocoa rind; tastes of butterscotch, grass, earth. Aged 1 year. (Sonoma, California)
Devil's Gulch - Pasteurized, organic Jersey cow's milk cheese with sweet & spicy red pepper flakes balanced by rich, buttery flavors. Aged 4 weeks. (Petaluma, California)
Saint Maure de Touraine - Coated in charcoal, a pasteurized goat's milk cheese with fresh cream flavors and hints of dried mushroom. Aged 2-3 weeks. (Loire Valley, France)
Langres - Soft cow's milk cheese with brine and marc de champagne. Moist and aromatic. Tastes of cream, almonds, and straw. Aged 4-5 weeks. (Champagne-Ardennes, France)
Mimolette Vielle - Hard raw cow's milk cheese, deep orange-colored interior. Rich flavors of caramel, bacon, and toasted nuts. Aged 2 years. (Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France)
Each step of this three-part recipe serves to enhance and intensify the deep, sweet flavors of the final dish.
Brussels SproutsIn a pot of nicely salted boiling water, blanch the sprouts until just tender and shock immediately in an ice water bath. When chilled completely, drain the sprouts well and trim just the very end of the stem ends, discarding any ugly outer leaves that might fall off. Quarter the sprouts lengthwise and in a sauté pan set over high heat, add the oil. When the oil is just about smoking, add the Brussels sprouts and caramelize them nicely. Season them to taste with salt and set aside to cool.
Q: My cheese has gone moldy. Is there some kind of CPR I can perform on it or should I throw it away?
A: Not to worry, there’s no need to get out the defibrillator paddles just yet. Mold growing on cheese is a perfectly natural occurrence. The moisture content and pH that allow good molds to grow can enable the less desirable ones as well, but more often than not that freaky-looking fluff is actually hiding lovely, still-enjoyable cheese. So yes, there are several cheese CPR techniques that you can and should employ before you consider throwing it away. If the mold growth is small and shallow, use a cheese slicer or plane to shave off the mold and the area around it.
Pairing is a matter of style
The aha moment came over a bowl of pasta carbonara. Egg, bacon, cheese, pasta: so simple, yet so challenging to find a wine that can put up with that level of richness and respect the dish’s comforting blandness. Not that I cared much on this particular night; it was late and I just wanted to eat.
So I poured a glass of what was open: Champalou Vouvray, a chenin blanc from France, not thinking about it until the combination hit my tongue. It was impossibly good. The wine had the acidity to cut through the richness, but its slight sweetness drew out the salty Parmesan notes.
Would it be this good with just Parmesan? It was, in fact. The briny cheese picked up the sugars in the wine, and the wine didn’t blink in the face of all that condensed milk fat. I broke out a semi-soft washed rind cheese, and the pairing celebrated its slight funk; with Gruyère, it wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t far off, either.
Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds are chock-full of flavor. Here, they simmer in broth to intensify the flavor of this fresh ravioli dish. So save your rinds or source some from your favorite cheese shop. If goat’s milk ricotta isn’t available, any fine ricotta is a good replacement.
Chef Kreisel recommends serving these with a side salad of curly endive or frisée dressed with tarragon vinegar.
the cheese into bricks about 3 inches long, 1½ inches wide, and ½ inch thick. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and cold water. Place the egg mixture, panko, and flour in separate shallow containers (you should be able to fit a couple pieces of cheese at a time in each container).
Try this feta dressing as a sauce for roasted veggies or even slathered on your favorite grilled meat. And as a sauce, it’s glorious paired with hot, sizzling frites.