Tag Archives: cheese

A taste of Cato Corner Farm

If you’re ever at a loss for what to do when a giant, stinky box of cheese arrives at your doorstep, go buy a good bottle of wine, a good baguette, and invite some friends over.  Or just keep the smelly goodness to yourself — your preference.  We recently got such a package from Cato Corner Farm, courtesy of Pam (thank you!!), filled with healthy portions of Vivace, Dutch Farmstead, Bridgid’s Abbey, and Hooligan (their stinkiest, ripest, most gorgeous award winner).  They make some of the best raw milk cheese in the US, and they are only an hour or so away, so we were thinking of picking some of their varieties for our wedding (which we are self catering, picnic style, because we are nuts / poor grad students — whichever you prefer). Therefore, with utter seriousness, a bottle of Malbec, and a great deal of hunger, the taste test commenced.

James arranged the order, because he’s the resident cheese expert.  We started with the Vivace, which tastes kind of like a young, less salty Asiago (though the website describes it as a cross between a Gruyere and a provolone). This one was mild and pleasant and ended up making a delicious melting cheese.  Next was a 6 month Dutch Farmstead, which is sort of a raw milk Gouda.  It was also fairly mild, though richer than the Vivace, and somewhat creamier.  Bridgid’s Abbey, which is supposed to be a Trappist-style monastery cheese, finished the trio of older, slightly harder cheeses.  Now, I have no idea what a Trappist-style monastery cheese is supposed to taste like, but of the three harder cheeses, this last one probably had the most complex flavor profile, and was the most bewitching when melted over a bit of toast.

Now, for my personal favorite. That cheese in the top left corner of the picture above is called Hooligan. It smells of wet, dirty socks, but tastes creamy and complex, with a slightly strong aftertaste.  Now that is CHEESE, as it is meant to be.  And it’s the closest either of us have come to finding a proper Epoisses in the states.  I am, unfortunately, hopelessly addicted.  Good thing it’s hard to come by here — you really have to go to New York to pick up a smaller portion, or order a whole 1.3 lb wheel and pick it up at the farm.

All these cheeses are made with the same milk, so they all have a similar creamy flavor to them.  For the wedding, we’ll probably pick a few from different producers, just to get a bit of variety going.  As for the Hooligan? Well … It depends on whether we can figure out what to do with a whole 1.3 lb wheel of the stuff.  I have a few ideas…

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Sweetness, cream, and a bit of spice

Creamy butternut squashThis dish is, if anything, intriguing. It’s not plain creamy, or cheesy, or any of the other qualities that make mac and cheese oh-so-irresistible.   It’s not comforting, either, at least in my book. It makes you think, which is saying a lot for someone who thinks for a living.  But I really shouldn’t be surprised, given who this pretty little creation comes from.Butternut squash plated 

It’s brilliant.  Any idea who I’m referencing now?  I just got his cookbook in the mail, along with a very bendable mini-tripod and some hope that my photography might improve.  And immediately, I nestled into the couch and started to read.  No, he’s not a writer; his prose reminds me of a school boy’s, actually, though it’s improved immeasurably since this one came out.  But he’s hilarious, has turned his fame into a vehicle for championing quality food for everyone, and happens to be a pretty good chef.  
Squash prep
His flavor combinations are familiar, but somehow unlike anything I would have come up myself. They work somehow, in an unexpected way.  So I’m sharing this one with you, because it’s worth trying, just once. Even if you only have whole milk and cheddar in the house, and don’t feel like trekking to the store.
Squash prep 2 
I used a local pear wine in this dish, which worked pretty well, but any white wine will do.  Cream and parmesan, as the recipe originally called for, would have been better than the whole milk and parmesan I actually used, but the flavor was still quite good.  The consistency wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I made do.  If you happen to find yourself in my predicament, make a béchamel sauce with a bit of butter, milk, and cream, and add the nutmeg and cheese to the sauce.  If not, use the cream. Go on — you know you want to.

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Filed under butternut squash, cheese, cream, milk, side