Red Carpet Rinds
The Oscars always catch me unawares. Are they always in late February? Oh, sorry, I was busy running my finger through that last wheel of Rush Creek. But I can recover. Let’s recover together. We all know that the Oscars are about high style. Right away, I think: rinds. We need cheeses that look like brocade, rhinestones — something to compete with Bjork in a swan dress.
If you don’t remember that swan dress, don’t even talk to me.
I’ve got a thing for crazy ass rinds, and I don’t mind telling you that nothing — not even cheese mites chowing on the clothbound covering of an old Cheddar — grosses me out. I will grab a mottled hunk of Mimolette over some bimbo dipped in wax anytime (not that I didn’t go through a childhood phase of loving red-wax coated Gouda, but I have since matured.)
In honor of this year’s Oscar nominees, and in the hopes that you will reach beyond your box seats for a truly stunning morsel, here are a few wedges that will entertain your guests during those horrible musical interludes.
A Beast of the Southern Wild
Ginepro is the feeling you get when you look at tar paper houses along a swampy set and try to imagine yourself in the role of Hushpuppy. Bathed in balsamic and pressed with juniper berries, this dense Pecorino needs bathtub gin and no bread. Anyone who is rooting for this beautifully shot bayou tragedy starring a 9-year-old needs an herbaceous sidekick to nibble as the world white-knuckles the nominations for Best Actress. Ginepro is all wild, but not southern or the tiniest bit beasty. It also has a great name, like Quvenzhané Wallis.
Sally Field’s Age Old Dream
Scamorza is Sally Fields playing tough ol’ Mrs. Lincoln. Like the role, this cheese might be perceived as one note, even bland, and yet it’s a classic, a cheese you can’t argue with. Old time Italians like to slice this baby thin, drizzle it with olive oil and sea salt, then put it on bread (try this toasted). The rind looks like the snout of Miss Piggy, but the celebrity connection stops there. Scamorza is essentially mozzarella tied to a rope and hung out to dry.
Silver Linings, For Real
Any movie with Robert DeNiro needs a Robiola. Inside this veiny cabbage leaf, you’re going to find a runny, pungent, silver-twinged goat cheese that is boldly creamtastic. This is the runway show stealer. You can certainly opt for other robiolas — they’re a beautiful mixed-milk fixation in Nothern Italy — but nothing says “cloak and dagger” like cabbage. For an easy-to-find variation, seek out Robiola Bosina (sometimes called Due Latte). Serve it with sour cherry jam, Champagne, and impressive crackers.
Want to learn more about cheese rinds? Join Madame Fromage for Nerd Nite, Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at Philadelphia’s Frankford Hall (7:30 p.m.) There will be beer, cheese, and very few PowerPoint slides.