Valentine’s Day

Sensual and sensational, Valentine’s Day is a cheese lovers holiday. Here’s the set up – you and your sweetheart alone by the fire, a platter of cheese, a bottle of bubbly, Chocolate Strawberries – you get the picture!

Here are a few of our favorite Valentine’s Day Cheese in stock this weekend:
La Tur – Creamy and rich Italian Cow, Goat, and Sheep blend to match with Strawberries and Champagne
Tomme du Chevre du Grandmere – Grandma’s Traditional Goat “Cheese Cake”. Simply scrumptious in a Frisée salad, or matched with Sour Orange Preserves
Tasmanian Signature Camembert – A new selection at the Plus. Sweet and creamy. Perfect for licking off fingers
St. Agur Blue – Cream enriched blue from France. Sweet and grassy. Match with a sticky dessert wine.
Pyrenees Brebis – Southern French Sheep cheese. Toasted hazelnut praline flavors to match with Spanish Jamon Iberico Ham.
Saenkanter 3 Yr Aged Gouda – Salted toffee and caramel notes. Match with a rich Zinfandel or Port and Dark Chocolate.

Maybe you’ve got Champagne wishes and Caviar dreams for this Valentine’s Day. We have a full selection of Champagne and Sparkling wines to compliment our Tsar Nicholai California Farm Raised Caviar. And don’t forget the smoked Salmon, Crème Fraîche, and Buckwheat Blini to serve with your Caviar.

For all you chocoholics out there – we saw you coming! In addition to fabulous Red Velvet hearts, we’re stocking all your favorite dark chocolate bars including our latest addition of Amano Chocolate from Utah. And we’ll also make our own Chocolate Dipped Longstem Strawberries this Friday and Saturday.

And don’t forget the Roses! Paul Robertson will deliver fresh Longstem Roses, Tulips, and more to the store just for you this Valentine’s Day!

Cheese and Champagne

A match made in heaven

We’re often asked what cheeses to pair with Champagne and sparkling wines.  Typically we might reach for a decadent and creamy triple creme brie style, or a tart and tangy goat cheese.  Both categories are a sure success with most Champagne and sparkling wine styles.  Here are a few more suggestions we’ve been enjoying this season:

Constant Bliss – Raw milk soft ripened cones from Vermont.  Earthy with mushroom and straw flavors.

Garrotxa – Firm and nutty goat cheese from Catalonia, Spain with a nutty character of toasted hazelnut flavor.

La Tur Robiola Tre Latti – An unctuous blend of cow, goat, and sheep milk with a fresh clean character, and dense/creamy texture.

Chaource – A delicious double cream snowball from the Champagne region of France.  Sweet and creamy with a slightly salty character.

Pecorino Foglie di Noci – A firm sheep cheese from Tuscany that’s been rubbed in olive oil and rolled in walnut leaves.  Sharp and salty with a flaky texture and a flinty, minerally character.

Make sure you check out our extensive selection of more than 350 cheeses from across the country and around the world in stock everyday.

 

Tiny Bubbles

Just for you!

Whether it’s Champagne or Sparkling wine, one thing’s for sure – it’s not a true New Year’s Eve celebration until the bubbles come out.  Here are a few of our favorite bottles of bubbly perfect for your New Year’s Eve celebration.

Francoise Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire Sparkling Chenin Blanc

This organic and biodynamic wine is produced at the Chidaine family vineyards in the Loire Valley of France.  From vines of 40 to 80 years in age, this lightly sparkling beauty is loaded with rich fig and dried pear notes.  Soft ginger spice lingers on the finish.

Monmarthe Champagne Rosé

A true beauty with deep rich red cherry color.  The flavors are bright and concentrated with red raspberry and strawberry character, a little gentle grapefruit zestiness, soft toastiness, and spicy cumin notes on the finish.  A great rosé to enjoy as an aperitif or with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Luis Pato Vinho Espumante Maria Gomes

A deliciously soft and fruity wine with light bubbles.  This Portuguese sparkler is perfume-y, tropical, but dry, with a bit of a spice on the finish.  Complex, yet understated – a great everyday sparkler!

The Five Senses

Cheese Plus Style

The dictionary tells us our senses are the physical means by which all living things see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Kind of boring, huh?  It doesn’t need to be,  so let’s spice it up a bit and celebrate the sensual side of food. Here are a few of our favorites to ignite your senses this Valentine’s Day!

Sight

What could more lovely than a great selection of artisanal cheese from around the globe.  When putting together a cheese board for Valentine’s Day we suggest you keep it simple with 3 cheeses and an accompaniment such as French Rose Petal Jam or Robert Lambert’s California Quince Paste.  Stop by and have a taste or our favorites this week.  We’re here to help you create a memorable Valentine’s Day cheese board.

Smell

Truffles, Truffles, Truffles!  We’re talking about that funky little wrinkled fungus the pigs root out from under the ground.  The aroma is an intoxicating and complex experience that’s difficult to describe.  You either get it or you don’t – we do, and we’ve got plenty to go around.  Try our selection of truffled foods including Ritrovo’s Truffle and Salt, Truffle Tremor Goat Cheese, Truffle Cacciatore Salame, Truffled Pasta and Sauce, Truffle Butter, Truffled Oil and so much more!

Touch (Texture)

Caviar and Creme Fraiche immediately come to mind.  We simply adore the gentle pop of Tsar Nicoulai California Osetra Caviar on the roof of our mouths followed by the creamy swoosh of sweet and tangy creme fraiche.  How ’bout a glass of French Champagne to complement?

Sound

What could be better than the explosive sound of opening a bottle of Champagne?  Could you imagine opening a bottle of champagne with a bottle opener? What’s the fun in that?  That magic POP! is half the fun and universally regarded as the beginning of a great experience.  Our choice for Valentine’s Day is Agrapart Les 7 Crus Brut Blanc de Blancs.  Made with 100% Chardonnay this wine is clean and bright showing great elegance and finesse.

Taste

Chocolate is synonymous with Valentine’s Day and we couldn’t agree more.  From creamy white chocolate to astringent extra dark we love it all!  One of the greatest things about chocolate is how a little bite can provide a ton of flavor.  We recommend the local favorite Charles Chocolates Valentine’s Box filled with with Raspberry, Passion Fruit, and Mojito ganache-filled heart-shaped chocolates.  We’ll also be creating our own Dark Chocolate covered longstem Strawberries this Valentine’s Day.  Available Wednesday the 13th and Thursday the 14th only.

Fondue

Traditional Winter Warmer

A classic dish for cold weather and good times, Fondue is a great winter warmer. Like so many enduring food traditions, Fondue’s history is based on frugality and survival. Bits of leftover cheese and wine were melted together and bread was used to extend this hearty mixture. Today, Fondue makes a great entertaining centerpiece, and your choices for ingredients are bountiful.

While you can fashion your Fondue in the traditional Alpine style, or branch out into Tex-Mex or Asian flavors, a few basic rules must be followed: First and foremost – use the best natural cheese. Second, keep a keen eye on the temperature of your cheese – too hot and it will be stringy and dry; not hot enough and you’ll be stirring all night long. Third rule – Have a good time. Fondue is a simple formula, so let’s get cooking!

Here’s our master recipe for Fondue.

For 6 people you will need approximately 3 lbs of cheese (12 cups) grated and dusted with a little cornstarch. You will also need approximately 2 cups of dry white wine, Vermouth or other alcoholic beverage. You’ll serve the Fondue with crusty bread, pickled cornichon and pearl onions, bits of prosciutto, ham or salame, steamed vegetables, and crisp apples. Spice it up if you like with a little dry mustard, grated nutmeg, a clove of garlic, or a splash of truffle oil – let your creativity flow.

Serve crisp dry wine such as Apremont from the Savoie region of France, Chardonnay (not too oaky) or Sauvignon Blanc, crisp Apple Cider, light Pilsner Beer, or refreshing sparkling wine to help wash it all down. For dessert a little fresh fruit or sorbet will complete the meal wonderfully.

The technique is straightforward. Using a standard fondue set with a fire candle or canned heat gel let the wine heat for a few minutes. Slowly add handfuls of your cheese while stirring. Once the cheese starts melting add a little more cheese continuously until it’s smooth. If your mixture is too wet, just wait a few minutes, if too dry add a little more wine. This process will take about 10 – 15 minutes and then it’s time to dig in.

When the Fondue is cooked away and all but gone you’ll find a crisp layer of cheese at the bottom, this is called La Religieuse, or The Nun and is a wonderful delicacy to be saved for the most special person at the table. Enjoy!

A traditional Alpine Fondue typically includes at least 2 cheeses; Emmentaler and Gruyère. Emmentaler is the classic “Swiss” cheese with plenty of well-formed eyes (holes) in its body. Made in wheels of approximately 200 lbs, Emmentaler is mellow and nutty and provides nice texture for Fondue. Emmentaler, like many traditional European cheeses is always made with raw milk. Gruyère is a more complex cheese, also raw milk, and fashioned into 70 lb wheels. Gruyère adds more piquant flavor and rich creaminess to the recipe.

Branching out from the basic recipe you will find many more regional recipes using more cheeses, or simply focusing on the favorite cheese of the area. Here are a few choices to consider:

Vacherin Fribourgeois – A creamy and full flavored raw milk cheese from West Central Switzerland. Mix a little in for an earthy mushroom-y character.

Appenzellar – A relative of Gruyère made with raw milk from Northeastern Switzerland. Washed in white wine and Swiss mountain herbs this cheese lends a bit of spice and brightness.

Fontina Val d’Aosta – From Northern Italy. This raw milk cheese is closely related to Raclette. It has a mellow earthy flavor and melts wonderfully.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve – A raw milk farmstead cheese from Wisconsin based on the style of Beaufort from France. Pleasant Ridge is only made during the spring and summer when the grasses are on the prairie. This cheese adds a nice buttery character with plenty of meaty flavor.

Raclette – We offer Raclette from France and Switzerland, and also a French goat’s milk version. All have a smooth texture and a little spiciness. You can use Raclette in Fondue or in a dish also known as Raclette.

We also offer a variety of Gruyère cheeses from France, Switzerland, and right here at home, too:

L’Etivaz – An AOC protected raw milk Gruyère from the French corner of Southwestern Switzerland. Made in the strictest and most time honored method from only 80 farms during the months of May to October, this is Gruyère as it was made over 100 years ago. Full flavored with gorgeous fruity complexity and generous meatiness.

Comté Sainte Antoine – Comté is Gruyère’s French sibling. Generally regarded as lighter and more fruity than Swiss Gruyère, Comté is subtle yet complex with a wonderful aroma of the green pastures it calls home. Raw milk.

Le Gruyère Reserve – Our best selling Gruyère from Switzerland. Made from farmer cooperatives and aged up to 1 year for full on meaty flavor and a smooth texture. Raw milk.

Sur Choix Gruyère – From farm cooperative dairies of Wisconsin comes this pasteurized Gruyère. We like this 1 year aged cheese for its full flavor and traditional character.

At Cheese Plus we’ll help you with your favorite Fondue recipe. We’re stocked with all the trimmings you’ll need for a great Fondue night. We can shred your cheeses, and we offer Fondue pots and Raclette grills for sale and rental, too.