Friday, May 16, 2014

Food Dreams - Cheese! 2014.05.16 Belgian cheese with celery salt, and L'Amuse aged Gouda

Food Dreams: CHEESE!  Belgian cheese with celery salt snack, and contraband L'Amuse

I woke up this morning thinking of the semi-soft white cheese sprinkled with celery salt that we enjoyed on a bike ride through a small town in Belgium.  Talk about a craving... I think that my thoughts began very subconsciously because on Tuesday I tasted some flavored salt at a shop in the Ferry Building, one of them was a fennel pollen salt, and it was delicious.  It must have reminded me of celery salt, and so a memory of celery salt was bubbling up...  Also, on Tuesday I was on my way to an event where I tasted an incredible cheese (almost like mimolette), and so the two food thoughts were swimming around together.

Last October we visited J&V-T in Belgium at the end of our Italian cycling and amalfi trip.  We went on a fun bike ride along a waterway to see an incredible boat lift and we stopped for delicious beer at a local fisherman bar.  We had our beer outdoors and I ordered a cup of instant mushroom soup, which was not too bad and much needed at the time.  They also gave us a couple of small bowls of cheese topped with celery salt- one of the tastiest snacks I have ever had.  We asked for what kind of cheese it was, they said it was "just cheese".  I need to have some of that soon...

According to this travel site it was probably either Damme or Gouda.  And I can't stop thinking about it-- I don't think it warrants a trip to the ferry building's Cowgirl Creamery shop, but I wonder if it means I can go to Pt. Reyes (ride out there?) to the CC shop there.  I could just go to the cheese counter at the MV Whole Foods, they might have something good.

We got home last night from from a fun night out with J&E-W where we did a non-happy hour at Hog Island in the ferry building for Sweetwaters and cocktails, then had ice cream from Humphry Slocomb (I had the secret breakfast with caramel and frosted almonds- lots of bourbon in that..) and went to the Off The Grid in the Presidio and capped it off at the Buena Vista.  They gave us an awesome 2nd wedding gift of beautiful cheese knives and all I wanted was to get home and use them on the contraband cheese in our fridge!  
When we got home I ate a few pieces and it was all I could stuff in.

This cheese was discovered at a LMU alumni and friends event a couple of nights prior, held at One Market where they had overflowing bowls of it.  I felt determined to figure out what it was so I could find more later.  Thankfully, we found it right away on our little stop at the CC shop.
More info on L'Amuse aged gouda at the bottom of this post

The other cheese I have not been able to stop thinking about (yes, Bay Blue, but that is a constant background thing) is the Point Reyes Mozzarella.  I picked up some at the Farmer's Market recently and we ate it with some tomatoes and red pepper.  It tasted so incredibly delicious, exactly like the cheese we had in Positano from this shop:

I will need to find an excuse to buy more at some point soon



L'Amuse Signature Gouda

Unlike other goudas, this cheese is never matured in cooler temperatures, allowing it to develop fuller flavors. Made in the Netherlands with milk from Holstein Friesian cows, it is aged for two years. Because this cheese is made year-round, the flavor, as a result of the varying milk, will change slightly with the seasons.
Typically, the paste is a deep amber color with well-distributed protein crystals. The aroma shows roasted notes of hazelnut and caramel. It is always creamy with slightly salty, nutty notes and a very deep, complex, long finish.
Farm / Company: Essex Street Cheese Co.
Affineur: Fromagerie L'Amuse
City, State:
Region: Beemster
Country: Holland
Milk Type: Cow
Milk Treatment: Pasteurized
Rennet: Traditional
Rind: Wax
Texture: Firm
Aging: 2 years
Size(s): 35 pound wheel
L'Amuse Signature Gouda L’Amuse Signature Gouda is made at the Cono cheesemaking plant in Northern Holland. The wheels are hand-selected and shipped to the maturing facilities of L’Amuse cheese shop in Santpoort-Noord, where the are matured under the specifications of Betty Koster, cheesemonger extraordinaire and the owner of L’Amuse cheese shop.
Dutch housewife during Renaissance, Holland 1650
Unlike most Dutch Goudas, L’Amuse signature Gouda is not matured in cooler temperatures. This mid temperature affinage (cheese maturing) in the cheese cellar allows the carefully selected cheeses to develop a fully rounded flavor. The cheeses are matured for 2 years and are sent to us at their optimum age.
The paste color is a deep amber, with well-distributed protein crystals. The aroma shows roasted notes such as hazelnut and caramel with some meaty and cellar notes. This hard cheese has a spectacular texture that is velvety and melts in the mouth. The flavor is nutty and salty with hints of burnt caramel ending with a complex, long finish.
Wilde Weide Gouda is a farmstead, organic, raw milk cheese, made in very small quantities. The dairy farm is situated on a small island in South Holland and is owned by Jan and Roos van Schie who make the cheese from the organic milk of their herd of Montbeliarde and red Friesian cows. We bring in the cheeses at 15 months, when the  flavors have developed complexity and depth. Hints of Bourbon laced with butter are unmistakable on the palate.



For many more photos of L’Amuse Signature Gouda and Wilde Weide Gouda, click here

Beer and Cheese Pairing 


Beer and Cheese

by: BeerAdvocate on 04-04-2001
Beer and cheese? The idea of the twosome is odd for many to swallow when in fact the marriage of beer and cheese goes way back. During the Middle Ages in Belgium, monasteries were known for their exceptional beers and cheeses - a staple of their daily diets and form of income. Even today, most beer bars in Belgium will serve small bowls of cubed semi-soft cheese sprinkled with celery salt to accompany your beer. What occurs is a gastronomic sensation of heavenly proportions. 

But I thought wine went with cheese? 
Sure it does, and that's what the public is fed by the mainstream "food & wine" press. Cheese can make a cheap wine palatable, even compliment a great wine on occasion, however the pairing of wine with most foods (especially cheese) is often a gastronomic catastrophe on the taste buds. Think about it, it's harsh sometimes. The overpowering acidity of wine usually kills any chance that your delicate taste buds have of actually enjoying a pairing. But hey, this is not a piece on wine bashing nor do we totally hate wine, so let's move on. 

Traditionally, beer and cheese are farmhouse products. In fact, not so long ago the average farmer's diet consisted of beer, cheese and cold meat; commonly referred to in England as a "ploughman's" lunch and a menu item in pubs to this day. Farmers often made cheese when they had an abundance of milk that they wanted to keep and brewed during the winter when they couldn't farm. And both beer and cheese have a similar origin, grass. Barley is a cereal grass used in making beer and milk is a by-product of a cow eating grass. As a result, beer and cheese complement each other by sharing some common characteristics in both aroma and flavor, while the carbonation in beer also lifts the palate and brings out many nuances in the cheese. 

So how do you pair beer and cheese? 
First and foremost use your own personal preference whether you are cooking with cheese or just severing alone. Try pairing complex beers with complex cheeses. You can also try and make a perfect match or play around and make subtle contrasts. Here are some personal examples: 

  • Feta and Goat Cheese work well with Wheat Beers, typically the more pungent the cheese the more of a full character you want in your Wheat Beer. Weihenstephan Hefe-Weizen, Schneider Hefe-Weizen and UFO Hefeweizen are suitable pairings. 
  • Mascarpone, a cow's cream formless cheese that is used in desserts and sauces, pairs great with most Fruit Beers. Magic Hat #9, Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, Melbourne Bros. Apricot or Strawberry. 
  • American Cheese, Muenster, Havarti and Monterey Jack with moderately hoppy Pilsners like Harpoon Pilsner, Radeberger and Stella Artios. 
  • Colby, Gloucester and Cheddar with robust Brown Ales. Sam Smith Nut Brown, Shipyard Brown or Brooklyn Brown will suffice quite well. 
  • Gorgonzola and Creamy Blues meld well with Barleywines. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Fuller's Vintage Ale, Rouge Old Crustacean and Brooklyn Monster make for a great duo. 
  • Roquefort and Stilton have a strong pungent character so there is need for a Strong Belgian Ales like Lucifer, Duvel, Chimay Blue, Northcoast Pranqster, and Unibroue Don de Dieu. 
  • Gruyére, Emmental and Swiss with Bock Beer, Dark Lagers or Oktoberfest Beer. Their sizable maltiness plays well against the meaty nut-like character. Sam Adams Octoberfest or Double Bock, Harpoon Octoberfest or Munich Dark, Salavator, Celebrator and Dornbusch Bock are appropriate picks. 
  • Parmesan or Romano with moderately hoppy Pale Ales and Amber Ales like Harpoon Ale, Stone Cat Ale, Ipswich Ale, Shoal's Pale Ale, Magic Hat Bob's 1st Ale. 
  • When cheese is part of a salad, try enjoying it with an India Pale Ale (IPA), with their citrus-like bitterness and fruity maltiness. Harpoon IPA, Wolaver's IPA and Tremont IPA are all suitable. 

    Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, and the American Dairy Association (ADA) partnered to create a simple guide. It's an ideal starting point for the novice beer and cheese enthusiast. 
  • Sharp Cheddar with Pale Ale 
  • Feta with Wheat Beer 
  • Mascarpone with Fruit Beer 
  • American Cheese with Pilsner 
  • Colby with Brown Ale 
  • Gorgonzola with Barleywine 
  • Gruyére with Bock Beer 
  • Swiss Cheese with Octoberfest Beer 
  • Parmesan with Amber Lager 

    Some tips on serving: 
  • Buy raw milk cow, goat (chèvres) or sheep cheeses. Meaning unpasteurized unprocessed whole milk cultures. Pasteurized cheese has many of the country scents and flavours removed, where raw milk cheese is rich, full and complete and supports traditional cheese making. Goat and sheep cheeses are creamy soft cheeses with distinct assertive flavours with considerably less calories and saturated fat over cow milk cheeses. 
  • If you are going to use crackers, use something that is neutral like English wafer crackers or flat bread. 
  • When serving on its own, always serve cheese at room temperature. 

    Just remember to have fun with this, experiment with your own tastes and understand that beer is the most complimentary fermented beverage on the market -- with all types of food and even on its own. 

    Behold the power of beer and cheese.
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