This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where I have a monthly feature in the Taste section!
Cheese, Glorious Cheese
Cheese has the power to lift us up, transport us to another time and place. It’s a comfort food and a celebration food.
Most of us have some sort of childhood memory involving a cold winter day, a sniffly nose, our mom, and an ooey gooey grilled cheese served with a steaming bowl of tomato soup. Perhaps there were times that you were rewarded with a great big cheesy pizza for a good grade, or maybe even went out for cheeseburgers after winning a ball game.
Some of the best meals of my adult life – an amazing mac & cheese made with a nutty gruyere, a creamy mushroom risotto with Parmesan cheese, an incredible tomato tart with fromage blanc – have involved cheese.
But while I love cheese as an ingredient in a dish, I also love it all by its lonesome.
Ah, cheese, glorious cheese. There are stinky cheeses, nutty cheeses, sour cheeses, and salty cheeses. There are soft cheeses and there are grainy, crumbly cheeses. There are assertive cheeses and there are mild cheeses. There are white cheeses, yellow cheeses and blue cheeses. There are single, double, and triple cream cheeses.
Shall I go on?
It can all be a bit confusing. Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the gourmet cheese counter feeling intimidated or overwhelmed? I know I have.
With so many shapes, sizes, and labels in front of us, how is a person (especially a person who grew up eating Kraft singles) supposed to make a decision? In my wise old age, I’ve figured out the answer:
Seriously, let your mouth be your guide! In order to do that, you need to first find a cheese shop/counter with a knowledgeable staff that can help guide you in the right direction. Then, every time you have the opportunity, sample a new cheese. You never know what you might discover!
Because I’m a pretty adventurous “taster”, one of my favorites now includes Barely Buzzed, a cheese whose rind is rubbed with a blend of espresso coffee and lavender. Sounds weird, right? But it really, truly, works! If you want to see for yourself, or try a variety of other interesting cheeses, go visit my friend Kathleen at The Bloomy Rind, an artisan cheese counter located inside Porter Road Butcher in East Nashville.
Over time I’ve also developed a real fondness for blue cheeses, with two of my favorites coming from just up the road at Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Barren County, Kentucky. For folks that like more assertive flavors, their pungent Kentucky Bleu is perfect, and for those that want something that’s not quite so in-your-face, their lighter Kentucky Rose is heavenly.
Are you taste buds tingling now? Well, it just so happens that you’re in luck, as there are two great opportunities on the horizon for you to get your fill of all sorts of glorious cheeses!
Wednesday, September 19th
New Belgium Beer & Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese Tasting
Turnip Truck Urban Fair – Gulch
321 12th Ave S
Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese will be serving up samples of their Norwood, Kentucky Rose, St. Jerome, Aged Cheddar, Gouda, and a few other interesting flavors to pair with New Belgium’s beer selections.
This event is free and open to the public; no registration necessary.
Saturday, October 6th
3:30 – 7 pm
Southern Artisan Cheese Festival
Nashville Farmers’ Market
900 Rosa Parks Blvd
The 2nd Annual Southern Artisan Cheese Festival brings more than 20 regional cheesemakers and food artisans from all over the Southeast. Attendees will sample more than 150 cheeses, wines, craft beers, and artisan foods that go well with cheese such as crackers, spreads, jams, honey, cured meats, pickles and much more.
Festival tickets are $44 each. For more information on the festival, the VIP package option, and a complete list of participating vendors, visit www.southerncheesefest.com