People who love to eat are always the best people.
In a perfect world, we prefer seasonal fruits and vegetables, and, according to the old tradition, avoiding consuming oysters during months with no R’s – May, June, July and August. But did you know that cheese is also a seasonal product? Most people have no idea about it. Almost all sorts of cheese do not have the same flavor and taste in spring, autumn or winter. Exploring seasonal cheeses is an excellent way to connect our food with places, animals, farmers, and cheesemakers that bring the final piece to us.
In general, the taste of cheese depends on the milk the final product made of. And this is directly linked to animal feed. It tastes different if a cow or goat has spent the season on the field grazing fresh grass or if the animal has been fed hay in a barn. But, besides natural aspects, there’s also a huge amount of other cultural reasons, lifestyle practices and local habits to pick different cheeses for different happenings.
January is a total mess after Christmas and NY holidays knows as post-holiday syndrome. The first month of the year is always hard after all the fun is over and may turn out a bit dull or stressful. We spent The Most Wonderful Time of The Year with family and friends, and now it is a stage to turn back to routine, day-to-day duties and insipid schedules. It's the end of the party.
One of the common problems of post-NY time is returning to healthy habits after a permanent guzzling gluttony within a couple of weeks. Classical key practices for a totally new lifestyle are to eat less, to workout more, throwing donuts away. Some people are concerned that cheese is high in fat, sodium, and calories, however, cheese is also an excellent source of protein, calcium, and several other nutrients. Eating cheese may even aid weight loss and help prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.
Start to align your diet rules these January weeks with simple meals without extra complications. The best choices for a rigorous post-party diet-mode are Cottage cheese, Mozzarella, goat cheese, Feta cheese, Brie de Meaux, low-fat Cheddar, Provolone.
February is the typical time for winter desperation and everyday annoyance. But you can make the month of romance and poetry more different than a standard rooftop night dates or Michelin-starred restaurants. Explore new activities and try cheese tasting evening with a partner for Valentine’s Day. All You Need is Cheese. Cheese plate full of curious combinations, desserts and matching beverages. If you need a pinch of romance, try to cook as a dating couple – it is still smart and sexy. Learn something new about haute cuisine, trying to avoid too ordinary dull combos as C&C (Camembert&Champagne, to be honest, it is not the most intense pair).
When was the last time you invited your friends for a dinner that is prepared by yourself? Time to reunion and to share a pot of rich yummy cheese fondue. Swiss option calls for a mix of yellow Gruyère, eyed Emmental and Sbrinz (Swiss version of Parmesan) cheeses, French – Burgund Comté, winter Beaufort and Reblochon, but Italian Alpine fondue includes washed-rind cow's milk cheese Fontina from North-Western Italian valley. Whatever you choose to taste, certainly you will get an unforgettable experience and festive memories.
Have you had a touch of some magnificent spring weather? Time to move on, time to travel, to focus on nature’s aromas and tastes. Think about the foodstuff your craving and serving this time of year, and carry that attitude through to your cheese plate. You will need to go especially with bright soft flavors, nothing too decrepit or aggressive.
In the spring month, cheeses are aromatic and plump. Grab a baguette and build your best March-board with buttery textured Landaff Cheese, briny Danish white sheep’s milk cheese and seductively fluffy chèvres (Bucheron, Chablis, Chavroux, Clochette). This spring cheeses are perfect eaten with crackers or overtop a salad and an acidic white wine.
And yes – eat less! Springtime means salad time. Be creative and plan ahead for all the garden planting, mix greens, fresh lettuce, radishes, spring onions, baby spinach and artichokes with Vacherin, Livarot or Langres cheese and home made dressings. Salads never go out of style.
Professionals know that the best season for dairy and cheese production starts in April, cause air temperature allows cows and goats to graze on flowers and herbs. Up in the mountains, on fresh juicy meadows, animals produce milk of excellent quality, with a high vitamin and protein content.
Best cheeses for this season are wrapped in chestnut leaves Banon, conical-shaped Boulette, milky Saint-Marcellin, and Saint-Pierre (being pyramidal in shape it is often known by the nickname Eiffel Tower).
Regarding our predictable life, April is Easter Holiday time, that means celebration with family or trip to the village, for instance. Anyway, it is time to follow customs and cook delicious, silky and velvety easter cheesecake. You may find hundreds of recipes, but most of them presuppose to use cottage cheese or fresh curd. Chefs always adore it, suggesting consuming with many meals from salads to desserts.
On April, 5th, an International Soup Day, there is a good occasion to make creamy Cheddar soup for lunch. Stir some broccoli and crispy greens to add iron, calcium, fiber and vitamins A, C, and K into the cheese soup base.
May is a perfect time to start the BBQ and grilled cheese season. The latter consists of grilling or toasting a slice of cheese between two slices of wholegrain bread. The modern American version of this tasty snack is believed to have originated in the USA during the 1920s when sliced bread and cheese became easily affordable for anyone. The British version of grilled cheese is called a cheese toastie. The classical cheese choice for an original toastie is surely Cheddar.
The end of spring/start of summertime is one of two distinct periods preferred for producing probably the most famous French cheese – Camembert (due to the grass quality that grew in May after spring’s rains). Milk for production is sourced only from local herds of Normandie cows. Thus, grass does matter a lot for your lunch salad with warm Camembert, chopped walnuts, spinach and garlic.
Besides grill-parties, it is also the opening period for jogging and outdoor workouts, which requires more energy and protein all day. If you are about more protein options for your diet, try semi-soft Port de Salut, semi-hard Monterey Jack, Sainte-Maure de Touraine, provolone, mascarpone, Colby Cheddar, or Muenster.
4th of June is International Cheese Day. Actually, there is a bunch of food holidays, that is dedicated to dishes with cheese component (from Pizza Day to Cheeseburger Day, etc.), but this one is particular cheese day-of-honor. As cheese is no. 2 source of dietary calcium. But, besides calcium, it also provides high-quality minerals, necessary for health. The cheesemaking process is a true art with roots back to ancient times, and this is a safe and natural product.
Try to make cheese by yourself. The soft ones like Mozzarella, cream cheese, or Cottage cheese are pretty easy to make at home. You will need the small kitchen factory though: for Cottage cheese and Ricotta you need a lot of raw milk, something acidic (like lemon juice or apple vinegar), salt, a cooking thermometer, a strainer and cheesecloth. If you intend to challenge yourself with something more complicated like mozzarella, then add starter culture and rennet to your shopping list.
Cheese-making is a pleasing hobby and one you could actively get used to. There are dozens of recipes for all levels. Homemade foods generally are not only delicious DIY fun, but it is also really healthy stuff, free of stabilizers, chemicals and preservatives.
All fresh products are the best when at their peak. In July, it is strongly recommended to consume soft Maroilles, made of cow’s milk and produced in North France. Then, perhaps, Laguiole from Aubrac, also cow’s milk product, with a bit of floral aroma. For a change, you can have Corsican cheese called Fium'Orbu, or fiumorbo, made of goat’s milk. It is often eaten spread on toast with fig jam and fruity red wines.
On a peak of the calendar, when summer and the whole of nature are at their apogee, soft, gentle, blue Gorgonzola is the best cheese to eat; just perfect for this time of year. It melts easy with risotto and polenta, combines with pizza quattro formaggi, remains fully self-sufficient on a cheeseboard and is ideal for a combo with a slice of pear as a lite snack. It is softer than ripe Brie and has a delicate vibrant creaminess that enriched with shades of blue mold.
If you want to enjoy summer apotheosis, then also choose triple-cream Brillat-Savarin, Époisses de Bourgogne, Saint-Nectaire, nutty Rocamadour and Valençay.
Is it August already? Yeah, Summer flies by far too fast. Yet August is The National Goat Cheese Month in the United States. If you have ever tried Greek salad with Feta, you have also tried the most popular version of goat cheese. Fresh goat cheese has about half of the fat, cholesterol, and calories of cream cheese made of cow’s milk. Also known as Chèvre, goat cheese always has a high reputation and had been spread from the Mediterranean to Eastern Europe, Africa, South West Asia and India.
It takes approximately up to 100 pounds of milk to produce around 25 pounds of cheese. Today, Alpine from France and LaMancha from Spain are among the top goat breeds for cheese manufacturing. For instance, Bucheron cheese is very popular in France. This goat cheese is known for its particular image of ivory color with a bright brown crust. Usually, it has a soft and foamy texture with quite an intense taste. Do not forget to get a piece of semi-soft Castelo Branco, famous goat cheese originated in Portugal. It has an alabaster color and is available salted or spicy.
Investigate some unexpected goat cheese combinations, such as goat cheese ice-cream with seasonal berries and honey.
Welcome to crisp and bright autumn days. It is the perfect time for traveling to your favorite destination, or wherever you have always been longing to go. Time to continue your gastronomical tour over the year.
Some cheeses are at their best at the warm beginning of the autumn – including reblochon, which is made of raw cow’s milk in Savoie and Haute-Savoie. You can also try snacks with Cabécou, a soft goat cheese coming from Aquitaine, and Fourme d'Ambert, which is one of the oldest of France’s soft blue cheese.
The “second spring of the year” will not be fully enjoyed without raclette, a dish of melted cheese and boiled potatoes, served with small gherkins and pickled onions as a garnish for dried meats, ham, or sausages. People of all ages adore having raclette dinner for all the family – just let your taste buds guide you on detecting mutual culinary delights and have fun.
One may suggest that October marks the top of autumn, and it is quite hard to argue. The outside temperature finally dips, thus life tempo is getting slower. It is time to calm down and to return to a bit chilled schedule of our activities.
Among other calm-life ideas, October is the proper time to think ahead and to plan Christmas presents for family, friends and colleagues. Looking for a unique gift to impress your food-loving folks? Knowing someone who cannot seem to ever get enough cheese? Chocolate truffle boxes or stock-style Coffee&Tea&Biscuits sets become already too predictable, repetitive, and simply boring. Then order a sumptuous selection of artisan cheeses or even an Advent calendar – 24 days of exploring new tastes! Normally, mini chunks are vacuum or waxed packed so that they will last all the way through December. No refrigeration is needed until you decide to open the individual package. Wooden or marble cheeseboards and professional cheese knives is also a good Xmas present idea for cooking-fans.
Tip: if you are going to order an Advent cheese calendar, I would suggest choosing an unusual multi-selection of miscellaneous items or even limited sorts of cheeses – like truckles of Caramelised Onion&Rioja Cheddar or Gin&Lemon Cheshire cheese. Why not indeed? That will be more exotic and memorable for sure.
People often believe that spending the day at a winery or brewery is strict summertime activity. Although it is quite true, that also indicates that they have never visited such places in November. Spoiler: it is awesome! Neither winery or brewery will be as crowded as in October days, and the beginning of November is a good reason to get together with friends to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day, and finally toast the official start of the next wine and gastronomic season.
Beaujolais is one of the best beverages for food pairings if you know the secret ingredient. The key is the proper combination. Rich cheeses like Brillat de Savarin, Brie de Meaux, or a mild Camembert are all fantastic to serve with chilled Beaujolais. Yet, add to the list such hard cheeses as Comté or Gruyère. Lite nutty notes of these cheeses will complement fruity flavors of chilled wine. Make sure that cheese spent at least an hour out of the refrigerator at room temperature, et voilà! It is quaffable. It is convivial. Cin-Cin!
Christmas is going in tune with cheese, and there is no better way to finish off the classic Christmas dinner than take a glass of Port and a chunk of Stilton. Eating cheese at Christmas is quite a strong tradition per sé. Thus, table culture to serve creamy Kirkham’s Lancashire and classic Stilton has formed lõng time ago. These cheeses are made of milk towards the end of summer, and they are naturally coming to maturity just in time for December. Tasty cheese has a scent of magic. Do you believe in magic? Would you do magic by yourself?
For creating the hotsy-totsy cheeseboard this Christmas, I would recommend sticking with the balance of styles, types and textures. Commonly three to five cheeses make a great selection, but sometimes serving just one outstanding cheese as a final paintbrush stroke of the dinner is enough.
It is quite the ultimate serving way to include soft Brie- or Camembert-style, a hard cheese (typically Cheddar) and, of course, a blue one. You can present a range of strengths and flavors within these styles. But this Christmas, however, you could go for some contrast: move away from the classic triad of Brie, Stilton and Cheddar, and experiment with some unusual farmhouse varieties. Old Winchester, for example, a strong-crystalline 20-month old Gouda style from Wiltshire, is a fine replacement for Cheddar.
The classic French way of cheese consuming is taking it before dessert. It is perfectly appropriate, as eating it after dessert makes your palate sweetened up, which, in turn, interferes with the whole enjoyment of savory cheese taste at its best. Gourmet snobs are actually correct – cheese is the ultimate party meal.