Cheese Pantry Favorites for Summer 2016
Many moons ago, I promised you a regular pantry series on Madame Fromage. Then I fell into a martini glass and am just now resurrecting myself. Let me share three of my favorite pantry discoveries of the last several months.
Effie’s Homeade Oatcakes
If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you’ve heard me diss on crackers. The purist in me likes to eat cheese naked (the cheese, that is) or with a slice of baguette. Crackers distract. Effie’s Homemade Oatcakes, however, provide a textural featherbed for cheese that leaves me swooning.
Made with simple ingredients, these biscuits are toothsome. Paired with Stilton or cheddar, they make me think of the classic oaty-biscuits-and-cheese combination that the Brits are so fond of. I like to keep these oatcakes in my desk drawer at work for spontaneous summer cheese picnics. I also love to pack them for in-flight cheese boards, alongside apple or pear slices and a spot of crumbly clothbound cheddar.
Effie’s Homemade Oatcakes first appeared before me at the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival a few years ago, where I met owners Joan Macisaac and Irene Costello (the oatcake recipe belonged to Joan’s mother). Recently, I sent a fan letter to their Boston HQ and they were kind enough to ship a box of oatcake varieties. I am a sucker for their classic oatcakes, but here are a few combinations I adored:
- Effie’s Corncakes: with chevre + lavender honey
- Effie’s Cocoacakes: blue cheese + strawberry-fig jam + Treat spiced pecan
- Effie’s Ryecakes: Red Cat (or any funky, fudfy cheese) + kraut + rosemary sprig
Treat Bakeshop Candied Pecans
Sarah Marx Feldner makes some of the best spiced pecans I’ve ever tasted. A perfect balance of sweet-savory with a flash of heat on the finish, they’re delicious with sharp cheeses. When Feldner first emailed me and offered to send me samples, I thought, “wellllll, okay?” After all, I’ve eaten plenty of spiced nuts on cheese boards over the years, and I didn’t imagine that a spiced pecan made in Milwaukee could be revelatory. Cue the trombone: whah wahhhhh.
Well, I was wrong. These pecans are beautifully spiced. Feldner apprenticed with nationally known spice company, Penzeys, and has a long history of working in the food world (she’s also the author of A Cook’s Journey to Japan). I enjoyed sampling her jar of spiced pecans and her 3-bag gift set of spiced pecans, candied pecans, and candied walnuts. Spoiler alert for my dad: I’ll be ordering these for his birthday in August.
Oregon Growers Fruit Patés
Using fresh fruit from the Columbia River Gorge, these jarred fruit patés from Oregon appealed to my love of cheese and jam, plus their size is just right for packing into my cheese valise on little trips. Here are a few things I loved about tasting these fruit-forward spreads: they’re made from whole fruit without additives or preservatives, and the company cultivates long-term partnerships with regional growers.
When you check out the Oregon Growers website, you’ll see suggested cheese pairings for their whole line. I was partial to the strawberry-fig pate, for pairing with blue cheese and goat cheese. The pear-hazelnut was excellent with Comté.
I’m glad the folks at Oregon Growers reached out. I wasn’t familiar with their products, but now I’ll look for them and try pairing them with some of my favorite Oregon cheeses from Rogue Creamery.
Full disclosure: I review products from time to time in order to explore new pairings. The products reviewed here were sent to me as samples. I only request and review pantry items that I truly adore.