Hooked on Cheese: Five Completely Wild Cheese Pairings
This is part two of a series on cheese pairings. For part one, click here.
I eat cheese nearly every day, so you’d better believe I’ve paired it with countless accompaniments over the years. There are loads of standard items: honey, fresh fruit, crackers, nuts, etc. These are terrific options in that they’re versatile enough to pair well with many different cheeses, but these days I like to try less conventional pairings. Here are five of my favorite inventive combinations.
Turnip Stems and Reblochon
The chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Hugh Acheson once gave me a jar of pickled turnip stems he’d made at his Athens, Georgia restaurant Five & Ten. They had a vegetal taste and a balanced vinegary tang. I paired them with Reblochon, the famed French washed-rind raw milk cheese (sadly no longer available in its true form in the USA since it’s not aged for long enough to meet the FDA’s standards). The meaty flavor of the cheese set off the turnip stems with a bang.
Panettone and Manchego
With the holidays quickly approaching, I look forward to picking up one of the panettone (Italian holiday bread) that will soon be hitting the shelves. Try lopping off thick slices and grilling over hardwood charcoal; grilling draws out the sweetness of the bits of fruit in the bread and the charred grill marks add hints of smokiness. This is ideal to serve with firm sheep cheese, such as a young Manchego, since it offsets the cheese’s barnyard flavors.
Banana Nut Bread Clif Bar and Saint Andre Triple Cream
This one may sound strange, but these bars pack in both the sweetness from the banana and the crunch from the walnuts (double whammy!). Try cutting into squares and serving with Saint Andre for a luscious, dessert-like treat. The coarse texture of the bar topped with the creamy cheese is blissful. If you’re feeling devious, you can even tell your guests you made the bar from scratch!
Preserved Seaweed and Boursin
I recently was given a jar of Organic Algo’Manne Seaweed Tartare from the coastal Bretagne region of France. Seaweed evokes the tastes of the ocean: briny wet flavors balanced delicately with a wee bit of oil. Try this unique accompaniment atop a heated croissant spread with Garlic & Fine Herb Boursin cheese for a savory combination. I know the tartare will be hard to find, but it’s worthy of international sleuthing to track it down; if that proves impossible, you can make your own.
Deep Fried Grasshoppers and Fundido
Now for the truly different. I was sitting in Casa Mezcal (a terrific mezcal bar in NYC) sampling drinks with a pal and he was somehow convinced by our server to try the Queso Fundido, a melted fondue-style cheese, topped with whole fried grasshoppers. The grasshoppers add a genuinely unique crunch to the smooth texture of the cheese and, shockingly, it was kind of delicious.
I’m always on the lookout for something different, so if you have an off-the-wall accompaniment, please feel free to write and share your suggestions!
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