Port Salut

January 8, 2010

Once more the Trappist Monks show the good side of celibacy: Port Salut, a great cheese to go with all those great beers and liqueurs they make.

Also known as Entrammes, this mild tasting, semi-soft cheese has a fascinating history. According to Wikipedia, its roots began during the French Revolution when Trappist Monks fled Paris to avoid religious persecution. While living abroad, they began making cheese in order to survive. When they returned in 1815, they built a new abbey at Notre dame and continued making cheese. Urban legend contends that the head of the abbey made a trip to Paris and concluded negotiations with a cheese seller to distribute the cheese. Sells went through the roof and soon thereafter the monks registered the name of their cheese as Port du Salut.

Like Chaumes, with which he shares more than a few similarities, it has a distinct tangerine rind. Its texture is like velvet and its finish is quite refreshing with a slight acidic taste.

When introducing children to specialty cheeses, I think this one would be a great starter. Your feline foodie thinks it would be divine in a grilled cheese; it would just ooze over the edges and what kid could resist?

BTW, The Man swooned when he tasted this cheese. The Lady loves it when he swoons…

I give Port Salut 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: I would think a little Ficoco Spread would turn this cheese into a dessert on the spot. Also in a grilled cheese.

Wine Pairings: Try a Pinot Noir.

Beer Pairings: How about Amber Ale? Should be rich and sweet; almost sinful.

Source: Cow Milk.

Ferndale, Washington, located on the Interstate Corridor thirteen miles south of the Canadian border, is home to Appel Farms, a dairy that practices sustainable agriculture and produces some terrific gouda cheeses. (They produce many other kinds of cheese, but your Feline Foodie® has only sampled two of the goudas.)

Appel Farms produces farmstead cheese from the milk of their three hundred Holstein cows. The operation is a family affair with the kids pitching in and doing chores alongside their parents. Their cheeses are sold at Farmers’ Markets in the Seattle area and a few grocery chains in the Pacific Northwest. The Lady sells two of the goudas on her cheese island. The smoked gouda is a “fast mover”; it sells as fast as she can order it.

Appel Farms has a store at the farm and it is open Monday through Saturday. They also make those squeaky curds on occasion. If you’re in the Seattle area, head north and visit these fine cheesemakers.

The Lady made a cheese plate with these two cheeses plus Port Salut (which I will review in my next post) which she served with freshly-baked French bread and a pork pate with mushrooms. A cozy night before the fireplace with wine…The Lady and The Man seemed to be in cheese heaven…that happens a lot around the manse.

The Man preferred the smoked version of the gouda. It is very creamy and mild; it coats the palate and leaves a satisfying after taste. The smoky taste is not over-powering. The Lady had brought a wedge home a couple of months ago for me to sample and review, but The Man ate the wedge for lunch one day and didn’t share it with me…I’ll assume I was napping and he didn’t want to disturb my slumber…yea, let’s go with that story… But The Lady was kind and brought another wedge home for moi, your favorite Feline Foodie to enjoy. And I did.

I give Appel Farms Smoked Gouda 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

The Lady preferred the Jalapeno-laced gouda. She likes spicy food and this version of the Appel Gouda had plenty of both green and red jalapeno slivers to add just the right kick to this creamy gouda.

As with the Smoky version, I give the jalapeno version 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Now let me add “the rest of the story”. As you recall from earlier posts, Gary, The Man’s BFF of more than fifty years is on a never-ending journey to locate the world’s best Smoked gouda; that being his favorite cheese. Just before Christmas, The Lady sent Gary, who lives in California, wedges of both the Appel Smoke Gouda and Jalapeno Gouda. Here is what Gary has to say:

“This morning I made myself an omelet, using the Appel Farms Smoked Gouda.  WOW!  Excellent!  I used my usual egg beaters, then added a handful of the grated cheese, along with tomato, small dice and about a TBsp of minced onion.  It was sooo good.  I give the cheese a ten on a scale of nine, cause . . . oh never mind!  I will make a special effort to find it around here.  There is Winchester cheese sold in the local famer’s market, but it isn’t as flavorful as the Appel Farms.”

So there you have it, Gary, loves this cheese as well…

Serving Suggestions: Cheese plate and in omelets.

Wine Pairings: The Lady is contentedly stuck in her 14 Hands Merlot period; but The Man went with a glass of Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc (2007) which incidentally was in the top ten wines as voted 2009 by Wine Spectator Magazine. I had a bit of heavy cream with mine.

Beer Pairings: The Man suggests a glass of Organic Oatmeal Stout from Wolaver’s. The Lady added that her friend, Mike Smith, would probably suggest Coors Light… but that’s another story for another time…

Source: Holstein Cow Milk