Cheese Please
 

If you grew up in the 70’s like I did, the word cheese meant one thing. It was that bright orange block of goodness that your Mom made macaroni and cheese with on special dinner nights. Or if you were lucky enough to have a snow day from school Mom would make you a toasted cheese sandwich and tomato soup for lunch. Ok it’s processed but it has advantages. It melts very well and it would probably survive a nuclear attack. It also tastes pretty good when you’re 7.

My childhood fondness for the orange cheese has turned into a full-fledged obsession. I still like old orange but ever since that fateful day my cousin gave me a really sharp piece of Cheddar and a wedge of apple, I want to try it all. At that moment I realized food could be art. I understand why a person would smuggle unpasteurized cheese past the American customs officers on a return trip from France. Not that I would ever do such a thing, I only saw it on TV. With the entire internet at our disposal, anyone can try almost any kind of cheese they want. You can get Brie from France or Cheshire from England with a couple of clicks. You can even join a cheese of the month club or even go on Cheese themed tours of Europe. There are countless books on cheese, not just reference books but novels as well.

Most area grocery stores offer a big selection of plain and fancy cheeses. I desperately wanted to find a local farm that produces and sells its own cheese. The closest farm I could find was the Mackenzie Creamery in Hiram, specializing in my absolute favorite, goat cheese. Their goat cheese is also available at West Point Market in Akron which is where I bought mine. This Cheese is both creamy and tangy at the same time. The creaminess hits your tongue first followed by a shock of tanginess. I tried to keep some of it to make an actual recipe but somehow it didn’t survive that weekend. Next time I will have to buy some other cheese as a decoy so I actually make a dish.

My second favorite kind of cheese is Cheddar. For me the sharper and older the Cheddar, the better it tastes. One time I splurged and bought some 9 year aged white Cheddar. I think it was the best food I have ever eaten, though I intend to keep looking. On a recent trip to Scotland I did my best impression of Tony Bourdain , seeking out Cheddars everywhere I went. I got seriously sidetracked by all the Indian food in Scotland including Indian cheese called Paneer. There so many farms in the UK that sell their own cheese right off the farm to locals. Here in Ohio locally produced Cheddar is available at the Brewster Dairy Big Cheese Shoppe. The best way to eat Cheddar is just simply cut up with apple wedges, Honey Crisp apples, if you can find them. Take it out of the refrigerator first and let it warm to room temperature as the cheese will have more flavor.

Eating local foods is becoming chic and Farmers Markets are popping up everywhere. I can only hope that the interest in local produce carries over into the cheese market and then I can find my local connection. Most of us who seek out strawberries, raspberries and cherries find a local farm and keep going back year after year. I’d like the same for cheese and dairy. Until then I think I’ll join a cheese of the month club, no need to smuggle to get my fix. Or perhaps I can get my Father, who is a farmer, to invest in a few goats for my own private stash, but I think he will say no. So if you see the opportunity to try some crazy or weird kind of cheese from faraway France or from a farm down the road, try it and pass it on. It might be the best thing you have ever eaten.





Here are two recipes using my favorite kinds of cheese.

Goat Cheese Medallions

Ingredients

8ounces of Goat cheese

2 eggs (whisked)

1 cup fine breadcrumbs or panko

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Divide your cheese into 8 rounds. Coat each round with breadcrumbs. Coat with egg. Coat with breadcrumbs again.

Bake on a non stick cookie sheet for 6-9 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are brown and the cheese is soft and warm in the middle. These are excellent in a salad, but I just eat them alone.

Cheese Quiche

Ingredients

8ounces bacon

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

3 cups sharp shredded Cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

1/2 cup diced onion

1 diced red or orange pepper

1 (4 ounce) can diced green chili peppers, drained

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bacon in a skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

2. Place crust in a 9 inch glass pie plate. Sprinkle bacon inside of crust. In a small bowl, combine Cheddar cheese and flour. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, cream, onion and green chilies. Add cheese mixture; stir well. Pour mixture into pie crust.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


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Synopsis
I wrote this article for the Canton Repository. It was published on October 8, 2008.
Published Date
10/8/2008 12:00:00 AM
Published In
Canton Repository
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