If you’re up to speed on any of the latest Hollywood gossip (though I suppose by Hollywood standards this is old news by now) then you know that by a perfect pair I’m probably not talking about Brad and Angelina, right? Right!
Instead, this is about apples and cheese. It’s definitely apple season and I’ve recently discovered that October is American Cheese Month. This pair packs a powerful one-two punch and is loaded with wholesome goodness… we will never read about it in a gossip
I must confess that when I first heard “American Cheese Month”, I was momentarily bewildered. How could an entire month be dedicated to American cheese – as in the individually cellophane wrapped version? Indeed it does have a melt-ability that is hard to beat but it certainly does not warrant an entire month!
And then clarity prevailed and I realized it was really American, as in a nation, Cheese Month. So I embarked to discover what I could about cheese in general gleaning the majority of the info from an organization cleverly named The American Cheese Society. And a big shout out to Jewls (that is not a typo), the assistant cheese manager, at New Seasons Market who was very helpful. She offered me samples of American cheeses, provided information and patiently answered all my questions.
Obviously, I don’t have a bevvy of fact-checkers (like some people we know) so take this all with a grain of salt (or slice of apple) and read on for fun.
The cheese lesson :-)…
To state the obvious, cheese falls into several categories. Of course, there is the ubiquitous processed cheeses like American and cheese spreads. Fresh like ricotta, chevre, cream cheese and feta. Soft ripened like brie. Semi-soft like havarti and fontina. Firm/hard like cheddar and swiss. Blue cheeses like Roquefort (the funkiest blue), Gorgonzola (has the highest butter fat content of the blues) and Danish blues. And in case you were wondering, blue cheeses are found in all of the categories above, except for fresh cheeses. Mozzerella and provolone fall into a category of cheese called Pasta Filata “Spun” Cheese.
I was especially curious about rind cheese of which there are two types: “Natural rind” cheeses like English Stilton which is also a blue, and Lancashire cheeses have rinds that are self-formed during the aging process. Did you know that English Stilton starts as a white cheddar? (I didn’t, but thanks to Jewls, and if I can remember, I might win a trivia game someday.) “Washed rind” are cheeses that the surface is ripened by washing the cheese throughout the ripening/aging process with an ingredient or mixture of ingredients like brine, beer, wine, or brandy. The washing encourages the growth of bacteria. Examples of washed rind cheese are some tomme-style cheeses (Tomme cheese come mainly from the French Alps and Switzerland), triple-crème, and semi-soft cheeses like Taleggio. Tomme sometimes also seen as tome or toma, is a kind of petite, round cheese made on the same farm from which its milk is sourced.
Phew that was a lot about cheese… back to the pairing!
I decided to do a tasting and chose honey crisp (crisp, juicy, sweet), gala (subtly sweet and very soft), braeburn (nice bright crispness) and jonagold (soft in texture and sweet) apples sourced from a local orchard.
I paired the apples with two American rind cheeses, one washed and one natural rind, and two extra sharp cheddar.
The natural rind was Glacier Blue from Cascadia Creamery in Trout Lake, Washington which we found funky and salty (in a good way) that was nice with the sweetest of the apples.
The washed rind was a toma – Off Kilter from Townsend Creamery in Port Townsend, Washington – washed with a Scotch Ale that we noted as being grassy, nutty and buttery. The ale is detectable though very subtle.
It turns out that not all extra sharp cheddar cheese is created equally! The Vermont cheddar was sharp forward and had a crumbly texture while the cheddar from Wisconsin was smooth, creamy and the sharpness hit at the back of the palate.
October is just getting started. Perhaps, for fun, you’ll have a tasting of your own. If you do remember to support American Cheese and that local apples are ripe for the picking at the orchards 🙂
A Perfect Pair… thanks for visiting Palatable Life.