Spring Cheeses have arrived!
Continuing from previous article, I would like to again talk about Spring cheese. The art of great eating is all about how in tune we are with seasons, with temperature, with sunshine or rain. There is one thing that evokes Spring more than anything else: Season. Spring is about the fresh greens of fiddle head fern, daffodils, pussy willows, fresh grass, and wild asparagus. Do you notice how happy the cows enjoy the sunshine and fresh grass when you drive the country side?
What are Spring cheeses? In the previous article I said that they are fresh tasting cheeses with silky texture. First, I love the idea how French are so fond of rich butter served at room temperature eaten with fresh radishes, and so am I. The peppery notes of radishes and sweet butter with a few crunches of Maldon sea salt are to die for.
If I am lucky and can find fiddle head ferns, I will sauté them in grape seed oil then served with shaved Ossau Iraty, sheep milk cheese aged about 9 months or 1 year so that we can taste what the sheep grazed on pastures summer last year. Usually Ossau Iraty is sold at its peak creaminess and nuttiness with herbal undertones at this time of year. I also enjoy very much fresh goat cheese with last Spring’s honey (yes there is such thing – vintage honey). Just in time for spring, Reverie Creamery just launched Chamomile cheese, a semi firm cow’s milk cheese infused with tea of organic Chamomile flowers. The taste is milky sweet with floral hint. Our popular soft-ripened cheese Luna is being aged and will be ready in a couple of weeks. Reverie’s signature cheese Black Garlic Chevre is really great with a crusty baguette and salad for a light spring supper or as a companion for crisp sauvignon blanc.
Mozzarella and Burrata are also my favorite cheeses for Spring time. Being super fresh cheese, the artisanal version will guarantee that the cows are consuming fresh spring grass. What is the difference between Mozzarella and Burrata? I am sure everyone knows mozzarella which is a semi-soft fresh Italian cheese made from cow or water buffalo milk. Burrata cheese is another version of mozzarella with a filling— basically it is mozzarella that’s formed into a pouch and then filled with soft, stringy curd and cream.
For this spring, I love to serve my lunch: fresh radishes with Double Cream Brie, garlic and herbs with focaccia bread. It is inspired by how the French serve sweet butter and radishes. I love the contrast of texture and taste between radishes and Creamy Cheese. You can also pair radish with Triple-cream cheese is cheese which contains more than 75% fat in its dry matter, that is, roughly 38% fat overall, similar to the fat content of extra-heavy liquid cream. They taste rich and creamy. Sounds alarming with 75% fat, right? Well, that does not mean you are actually eating 75% fat. Most Triple Cream cheeses range 35%-40% fat. Why is that? A wedge of hard cheese, like Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano, actually contains more fat by the pound than a wedge of runny Brie. That’s because there’s more moisture in soft cheese, meaning: more water. Double and Triple Cream cheeses are in most have high levels of moisture – they can still be comprised of about 50% water. So, when you see a cheese with 75% butterfat, it means that 75% of dry matter in a cheese (about 50% of the cheese), is butterfat. That means a triple cream cheese has about 38% fat content. Compare that to semi firm sheep milk cheese Ossau Iraty that normally has 50% butterfat content. I cannot wait for local asparagus to appear in the farmer’s market. Roast with olive oil and lemon zest, sea salt and pepper and serve with fresh Buratta, with crusty country bread. Hmmm, that for sure will transport me to lush meadows…bumblebees, wild flowers, dandelion flowers, cool fresh spring air and soft sun… ah how I love Spring time!
Author: Riko Chandra, Chesemaker, Cheesemonger, Co-owner Reverie Creamery, Artisan Cheesemaking and Cheese Shop.
Published in The Ledger, Vol 1, Issue 17. April 27-May 3, 2017