Valentine’s Cheese Advice

With the economy in the toilette, it’s an awfully good year to be a loving spendthrift. Instead of bedazzling a sweater and going out on the town, I suggest you bedazzle some goat cheese and stay in with some Steely Dan.

It’s as easy as picking up these chevre hearts—available at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal—or making your own.

Come on, you can find some fresh goat cheese and figure out how to press it between sheets of waxed paper for some easy molding. Pete Demchur of Shellbark Hollow rolls his cuties in fresh lavender buds and pink peppercorns, but you could roll yours in some paprika, craisins, or za’atar. That’a grrrl, Martha.

Below, I’ve listed all the scrumptious sides you could ever want for a lover’s cheese board. Pick up some goat cheese, a weepy Brie, and a sweet hunk of Valdeon, then lock the door. Turn off all the lights, scramble for a candle, and feed your naughty cherub these tender morsels:

  • Cherry preserves
  • Spiced pecans
  • Dark chocolate
  • Honey
  • Dates
  • Baguette
  • Champagne

Don’t forget to relax the cheese! What I mean is, while you’re taking a warm bath, leave the cheeses on the counter. You want to serve them at room temperature. Otherwise this whole exercise is pointless.

Cheese & Champagne Class: If you want to bone up on the finer points of serving bubbly and Brie, check out the Cheese & Champagne class at Di Bruno Bros., 1730 Chestnut St., on Friday, Feb. 10, at 6:30 p.m. The swarthy Richard-Luis Morillo will demo and discuss. Tickets: $20. For more info, call 215-665-1659.

Downton Abbey Cheese Board

I can’t seem to get enough of the PBS series, Downton Abbey, and neither can you. This became clear at the Cheddar class I taught on Friday night at Tria’s Fermentation School. It was a Masterpiece Theater loving crowd (lots of beards and one waistcoat); Lady Grantham would have fit right in.

By the end of the night, we’d eaten seven Cheddars, and there was hardly a crumb on the tables. After everyone left, I couldn’t help but imagine them settling in on their settees at home with a spot of port and an episode of Downton Abbey cued up for a nightcap. Since today is Sunday, and you’ll surely be watching, let me offer you a few crumbs of wisdom about building a Downton worthy cheese plate.

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Ubriaco

Now that the holiday parties are over and more sleet is in store, a person can easily turn gloomy. If you find yourself prone to despair, I suggest a nice wedge of Ubriaco as a cure-all.

 Ubriaco, which means “drunken,” is a cheese that understands darkness. It spends months in a wine barrel before it comes to market. Originally, Italian cheesemakers hid wheels from tax collectors this way in order to avoid their fees. Eventually, these drunken cheeses became popular. Lucky for us.

Full disclosure: I freelance for Di Bruno Bros. Twice a month, I pick a wedge of my dreams and develop a post for their blog. This is how I cover the cost of my dairy habit.

Reading Raclette

So many award-winning cheeses are made in Vermont these days that it’s easy to feel Green State envy. One Vermont cheese that’s got cheesemongers buzzing this winter is Reading Raclette. Now, the Swiss make Raclette and so do the French, but until Spring Brook Farm introduced its artisanal version from Reading, no American cheesemaker had come forward with a melt-away Alpine stinker this good.

Reading Raclette has another thing going for it. All of the proceeds go to a Vermont nonprofit called Farms for City Kids that offers urban school children a chance to explore farming and cheese making. To continue reading, please visit the Di Bruno Blog.

Full disclosure: I am a freelancer for Di Bruno Bros. Twice a month, I select a cheese and develop a post for their blog. This is how I cover the cost of my dairy habit.

Rogue River Smokey Blue

Lately, people have been asking me about smoked cheeses, so this week on the Di Bruno blog, I devoted my column to Rogue River Smokey Blue from Oregon state. It’s one of the best smoked cheeses on the market — not that competition is stiff. Most “smoked” cheeses are loaded with Liquid Smoke, a chemical additive. For the 411 on why Rogue River Smokey Blue stands out, please check out my column.

Full disclosure: I am a freelancer for Di Bruno Bros. Twice a month, I select a cheese and develop a post for their blog. This is how I cover the cost of my dairy habit.