I hanker for a hunk o’cheese! Do you remember that PSA where a critter that looks like a creepy potato, dressed as a cowboy, sings the praises of cheese? The truth is, that creepy cowboy potato was singing my song! I’ve been a cheese fanatic my entire life. I have had that hankering since I was a wee-tot, chilling in my PJs watching Saturday morning cartoons. I’m pretty sure I even had a slice of American cheese in my hand.
Good thing my tastes have expanded! Although, I wouldn’t exactly turn down a slice of American cheese from the local deli. Actually, I usually ask for one and say it’s for my kids. 😉
That love of all cheeses was the inspiration in part for our latest series – Cheese of the Month! The other inspiration was a remarkable group of cheesemongers in Wellesley, namely, those at the family-owned Wasik’s Cheese Shop. Not only do they have a remarkable line-up of numerous cheeses, but also the expertise to make them the go-to spot for all your cheese (and charcuterie, chocolate, wine..) needs!
With my love for all-things dairy and the Wasik’s knowledge, we give you the cheese of the month!
CHEESE – Hard-Pressed Curd Style
DAIRY – Cow’s Milk
ORIGIN – Vermont
COST – $20.00 per pound
Brad Wasik is recommending the Grafton Cave Aged Clothbound Cheddar from Vermont.
Yes, we’re kicking off what might be our most fantastic monthly series ever with basic cheddar cheese. But, If you know anything about cheese, you know an aged clothbound cheddar is anything but basic. One definitely hankers for a hunk of this stuff.
And it’s perfect for this time of year.
Cheddar and apples are a classic combination close to any foodie’s heart. A slice of cheddar on a piece of apple pie is a bit of Americana heaven that gets ignored about ten months out of every year. So, with apples in abundance this time of year, cheddar cheese is the perfect choice. We should point out that clothbound cheddar is originally an English style of making cheddar cheese.
For those of you who really want the low-down, cheddar cheese comes in two different styles, English Farmhouse and North American. The difference being that the English Farmhouse is wrapped in cloth and North American in plastic. This means all the difference in the aging process and the flavor that comes with a fine aged cheddar.
We’re going to assume that everyone has tried an aged cheddar or Gouda at least once. Do you recall those salty and nutty little pieces of cheese that roll onto your tongue bursting with flavor? Well, that cheesy goodness is only possible with an English or Farmhouse cheddar and the magic happens because of the cloth.
The cloth that is wrapped around the cheese allows the curing cheese to breath and yet for moisture to escape still. Just like when reducing a sauce, the moisture evaporates and flavor condenses. During this aging process, 20 pounds of cheese can literally become 15. So, that explains why the longer a hard-pressed cheese is aged, the more bite and flavor it has. And also, it’s generally more expensive as it was originally a larger quantity of cheese.
So, back to our slice of apple pie and cheddar. The Grafton Cave Aged Clothbound Cheddar Brad recommended might be somewhat lost on pie, although still pretty darn good.
With a cheddar as decadent as this, one that gets to be named the “Queen of Quality” you might opt to have it “neat” with a few apple slices and perhaps a glass of port, like the Graham’s Ten Year Tawney Port. (We had Brad’s help on that one too. Thumbs up for this recommendation!) A spicy apple chutney would be delightful too!
Nibbling on this cheddar and sipping port next to a toasty fire is my idea of a perfect afternoon. Brad pointed out that it’s even better enjoyed after a brisk Sunday walk.
The pairing was simply wonderful. I’m almost in the mood for the holidays. 🙂 At the very least, I’m accepting the chillier temperatures and finding wonderful ways to keep myself warm!
Don’t forget to check in next month for more cheese news!
“When my get-up-and-go has got up and went,
I hanker for a hunk o’ cheese!
When I’m dancin’ a hoedown and my boots kinda slow down,
Or anytime I’m weak in the knees,
I hanker for a hunk of,
A slab or slice or chunk of,
A snack a day’s a winner
And yet won’t spoil my dinner!
I hanker for a hunk o’ cheese!”
Don’t forget to visit Wasik’s!