Upadam

Padam, Padam

Songs of passion. . .French cabaret music, klezmer, tangos, Latin and original music.

Updated June 12, 2011

Padam, Padam at the Cheese Kiosk

The Lady was there; I wish I had been there… it was a perfect day at the cheese kiosk. The Lady thanks Padam, Padam for performing and making a special day even more special!!!

How cool!! Portland’s own musical group, Padam, Padam, will perform a mini-concert from 2pm-3pm tomorrow, June 11th at Fred Meyer’s Hawthorne Store, the only Leed’s Certified Silver Grocery Store in Oregon. It’s all part of the specialty cheese kiosk’s “Locavore/Local” theme as the cheesemongers salute more than two dozen cheeses from local cheesemakers in Oregon and Washington State. They also are featuring other local fare that pairs well with the local cheeses, including Beer, Wine, Tea, Jams and Mustards.

There will be cheese samples as well… stop in and hear some great music and take home some local cheese.

Local cheesemakers include: Tillamook, Willamette Valley Cheese Company, Tumalo Farms, Appel Farms, Rogue Creamery and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.

The Lady will be there and if I can sneak in (another “No Pets Allowed” food joint… what’s up with that???), so will I, your not-so-humble Feline Foodie!!!

We love this cheese around the manse and reviewed it recently. You’ll love it, too. And finally it’s available in the U.S. Please contact Grand Prix Trading for more information. We also saw a blurb about this 2010 “Best New Cheese” while reading Culture Magazine yesterday.

The island of Pag off the coast of Croatia is home to a special artisan cheese, Paski Sir. Paski Sir is gaining worldwide recognition quickly as it amasses award-after-award. In 2010, it won the prestigious Barber Award and was named the World’s Best New Cheese at the World Cheese Awards. That’s one hefty accolade.

Through this blog, The Lady and I met Simon Kerr, the indefatigable Marketing and Export Director for Gligora Dairy where Paski Sir is produced (Simon is also a Master when it comes to understanding social media). He graciously offered to send a sample our way and we were thrilled. After sampling it, we felt we had been granted membership in an exclusive club… those lucky enough to taste this exquisite sheeps’ milk cheese.

Before reviewing let me share more about Pag and the production of Paski Sir.

The Lady was in Croatia in 1978 when it was still Yugoslavia and Tito was alive and kicking. She didn’t get to Pag but the week she spent in Yugoslavia is one of her fondest memories. She loved every minute she spent there; the people were friendly; the countryside is beautiful; the cities old and stately. Her favorite was the Croatian walled city of Dubrovnik. She worked in the airline industry at that time and was invited to sit in the cockpit while landing in Dubrovnik; ahh, the good ole days of aviation… but I digress…

The Island of Pag is off the coast of Croatia in the Adriatic Sea and enjoys a perfect climate for cheesemaking. Its eastern landscape lies beneath the mainland Velebit mountain range which creates the Pag Bora, a strong, cool and dry wind that comes off the mountains. When it reaches the sea, it creates millions of tiny sea droplets that the Bora dries and turns the droplets into salt dust. Then the Bora deposits the salt dust on the vegetation of the island. It is here that the Paska Ovca Sheep grazes on the vegetation, their favorite being the Pag Sage growing on the rocky landscape.  The aromatic sage is quite prominent in both the scent and taste of this cheese. Paski Sir is a perfect example of terroir and cheese.

Paski Sir has been produced on Pag since the 7th Century during Roman occupation  and today there are several dairies producing this cheese (and many other award-winning cheeses as well). Currently the main producers of Paski Sir have formed a Cheese Association with the intention of obtaining Protected Designation of Origin for Paski Sir to impose strict condition for production. It would also ensure that Paski Sir remains a product of Pag.

In 2008, 2009 and 2010, Gligora Sirana Dairy won the coveted 3 star Superior taste Award from the International Taste and Quality Institute for Paski Sir.

The Lady, The Man and I enjoyed a wedge of this cheese one evening and although it started out as the appetizer; it quickly became dinner. The cheese was so satisfying we were unable to just taste one or two bites and the three us finished the entire wedge. I suppose we should be embarrassed but we’re not in the least. 

The piece we had was aged about one year and the color of light caramel. It has a dense paste with some small eyes, similar in appearance to a Manchego. When The Lady sliced the wedge, a floral aroma filled the air and promised more to come. The first taste is light but quickly develops into a strong, piquant finish. A finish that lingers and grows as you enjoy yet another slice. It crumbles and melts and leaves you begging for more. The taste is unique and because this cheese is thermalized rather than  pasteurized, most of the floral of the sage plant is still delightfully present which adds to the enjoyment of this cheese. As a point of reference because this cheese is not yet widely-known in the US, this cheese is moister than Manchego and not as salty as a Pecorino but has similarities to both.

The Lady and I decided after enjoying this cheese, we are firmly moving into the category of lovers of sheep milk cheeses. Like the Sally Jackson cheese The Lady tasted at the 2010 ACS Conference, the taste remains in your mind and you can almost taste it again with only thinking of it.

I give Paski Sir 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). 

Sadly, Paski Sir is not currently available for sale in the United States but Simon told The Lady it should be available via wholesale through Grand Prix Trading of New York by mid-May, 2011. For further information regarding Paski Sir, please contact Simon via his Paski Sir Blog. Paski Sir also has a Facebook page you can “Like” and they Tweet as @PaskiSir. As I said earlier, Simon knows his way around the internet. His series “From Ewe to You” is informative and follows the entire production of Paski Sir from the Ewe to your table. You can win a wheel of Paski Sir – the details are on the blog.

Serving suggestion: Slice in triangles, leave the rind intact and serve this cheese naked to fully enjoy its flavor and taste. The Lady served the Paski Sir with a trio of Vintner’s Kitchen jams: Marionberry Jam with Port, Confetti Pepper Jelly and Strawberry and Pinot Noir Jam and VK’s Honeyed Wine Mustard with Garlic. She also had a peppered salumi on the plate and freshly baked French Bread.

Wine Pairing: The Lady enjoyed a glass of 14 Hands Merlot with this cheese although she suggests a Riesling would also pair well with Paski Sir.

Beer Pairing: North Coast Old Stock Ale . The Earthy sweetness pairs well with the salty tang of the Paski Sir.

Trivia: Pag lacework, also made on the island and used in the background of the Paski Sir label, was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

FTC Full Disclosure – The cheesemaker/manufacturer sent me their product, hoping I would review the product/cheese.


Made From Raw Sheeps’ Milk

The third featured bleu cheese in the “Send Marcella to France” contest is the quintessential of French Bleu Cheeses: Roquefort. The first AOC-designated cheese, Roquefort received this protection in 1925, was mentioned in history as early as 79AD when Pliny, the Elder, spoke of its rich flavor… who knew, I’d  follow in the steps of one of the great as I sit here today “mentioning Roquefort”…

Legend claims that Roquefort was discovered when a young man, eating a sheeps’ milk cheese sandwich, saw a lovely lass passing by… he abandoned the sandwich in the cave where he sat to chase the girl. Time passes, the boy returns to find that the cheese has molded and voila… Roquefort Cheese was born. It’s almost always about women or money with humankind of the male persuasion… why am I not surprised???

Today, Roquefort is the only bleu cheese still made using the mold grown on rye bread. The mold, Penicillium roqueforti, is found in the soil of the caves where the cheese is aged. The bread is molded for several weeks, ground up and injected into the cheese. It can be added to the curd or later as an aerosol injected into the aging cheese. One of the AOC rules is that this bleu cheese must be aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. 60% of Roquefort is produced by Societe and that is the brand that The Lady sells at her kiosk. Prior to the AOC-designation, a small amount of cow or goat milk was added to the cheese. Now, the cheese is made exclusively from the milk of Lacaune, Manech and Basco-Bearnaise breeds of sheep.

The Lady brought a modest wedge home that she served in two ways. The first was at room temperature and schmeared on French (naturally) bread and then the following day she served a simple romaine salad with Roquefort dressing and Confit of Chicken, sautéed fresh veggies with pasta. This chicken dish came along after watching Emeril Live on the CookingTV Channel, a favorite around the manse.

Roquefort’s veining is more green than “blue” and makes a dramatic presentation. Simply put, this cheese is just as pretty to look at as it is to consume… well, that may be a bit hyperbolic, but not by much. This cheese brings such pleasure to the palate: it starts mild, moves to sweet, then smoky and ends with a salty finish… it just doesn’t get any better than this…

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

Serving Suggestion: Schmeared on French Bread makes a perfect way to start a meal. You can make a perfect salad dressing using Roquefort or you can add it to tarts, pasta sauces and if you really want to impress family or friends, use it for a specialty mac n cheese.

Wine Suggestion: The Lady served a favorite of hers, Chateau de Sancerre.

Beer SuggestionBrasserie Saison Fantome

Source: 100% Raw Sheeps’ Milk

Trivia: Before the discovery of penicillin, it was common for shepherds to apply this cheese to wounds to avoid gangrene.

A few weeks ago, overnight The Lady became a Francophile: Traditional French Music began to fill the air on her days off, interrupted periodically by Champagne FM Radio streaming live from Paris. When quiet finally comes, she begins her French lessons online… I gotta say, when The Lady does something, she never does it halfway…

All because she hopes to be in Paris on July 25th with several of her fellow cheesemongers…

Lactalis France is sponsoring a French Cheese Contest… or as The Lady prefers to call it… The “Send Marcella to France Contest”…  my guess is everyone competing has a “similar” name for the contest… anyway, The Lady is determined to be a winner… God help The Man and me if she loses… living with her could get ugly… very ugly…

(Insert: as I write this The Lady is listening to a French Rapper on Champagne FM… cool, but The Lady doesn’t listen to American Rappers… sheesh…)

The first period of the contest features three exquisite French Bleus and I decided to re-visit these cheeses in tribute to The Lady:

All three of the bleus featured are from the Auvergne region of France which is Southeast of Paris. With the abundance of cows in the region, Auvergne is home to several of the world’s great cheeses: Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert, Bleu d’Auvergne, Cantal and Saint Nectaire. It is also home to Michelin Tires; The Lady’s brother, Joel, worked for a subsidiary of Michelin and visited Auvergne several times.

Bleu d’Auvergne is the first bleu featured in period one of the French Cheese Contest… The Lady brought a small wedge home and a fresh baguette… French, of course… she schmeared the cheese on the baguette, The Man swooned and I rubbed her leg to make sure she knew I loved her best…

This is one tasty cheese; grassy with a hint of wildflowers. The rind is moist and sticky; the cheese weeps and the paste emits a strong odor… pleasant to some… for others… not so much… I love this cheese; I could eat it day in and day out… of course, I could eat most cheeses day in and day out… it’s my passion… that and chasing off the interloper that has taken to sleeping on the deck… the little tramp lets The Lady pet him and she feeds him… Houston, we have a problem… but I digress…

With the baguette, The Lady served slices of ripe pear and a few walnuts… the combination was divine…

I give Bleu d’Auvergne 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

You can read my original thoughts on Bleu d’Auvergne by clicking here.

Serving Suggestion: Schmeared on a baguette makes quite a nice snack; throw in a few slices of pears and nuts and it’s a feast. This cheese is also terrific as a dressing for a wedge of lettuce.

Wine Pairing: Port or Sauternes.

Beer Pairing: Weissbier

Source: Cow’s Milk

Up next: Fourme d’Ambert

And a word of advice to The Lady… if you start feeding cheese to that darn interloper… well… let’s just say… that would not be a wise thing to do…

Brie de Meaux

March 13, 2011

I don’t know how she did it, but The Lady brought home a wedge of Brie de Meaux, a superior Brie generally produced only using raw milk. Perhaps she had a pasteurized version but after my tasting, good money says this cheese came in under the radar…

Made in the Brie region outside of Paris, Brie de Meaux is usually produced between July and March. This cheese is the quintessential example of the melding of Brie and Terroir. You can taste the earth and the floral in this divinely creamy cheese.

During production, casting is done manually and in thin layers using brie shovels. The wheels are turned by hand and ripened in cellars for about four weeks before they are ready for sale. This AOC-protected cheese reaches its “peak” between 7 and 9 weeks after manufacturing.

The Lady let the wedge sit for about 45 minutes before serving it to The Man and your not-so humble Feline Foodie. As you might guess, I had to go paw-to-paw with The Man to get my fair half-share. He’s not really into sharing… I find that to be annoying… The Lady thinks after all this time, I should be “used to ways of The Man”… sheesh…

This cheese is not only gorgeous with a hint of redin its paste which reminds of my favorite French cheese, Epoisses; it melts on the palate as the sweet, nutty earthiness of this cheese explodes in the mouth. You can taste mushroom and floral from the grass.

I give Brie de Meaux 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got) and urge you to get a wedge of this raw milk wonder… even if you have to fly to Paris…

Serving Suggestions: Keep it simple. Bread and wine… that’s all you need and all you would ever want.

Wine Pairing: You want a fruity Burgundy or a glass of champagne.

Beer Pairing: I wouldn’t but many would…

Source: Raw Cows’ Milk

Trivia: Brie and Camembert are the same cheese…

Suitable for Vegetarians

Whenever we review a cheese with “stuff” added, the comments are interesting. Some “cheese elites” tend to “poo poo” flavored cheeses; while the rest of us regular folks are inclined to go with the flow and enjoy the cheese with its added herbs, spices or fruits, etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, some of my BCFFs (Best Cheese Friends Forever) are “elites” and for the most part, they’re great folks… just a bit snobby when it comes to their cheese…

The Lady carries a Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese with cranberries added. This cheese is a huge seller during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, however, it continues to do well the rest of the winter season and tapers off as the weather warms. We have previously reviewed other Stilton cheeses with fruits.

The cheese is creamy, crumbly and mild; the cranberries are sweet, tart and pungent. The combination is not only pleasing to the palate but also eye-catching.

The Lady served this with thin slices of her homemade banana nut bread and as usual… The Man swooned… surprise…

I give Wensleydale with Cranberries 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: As a dessert cheese, you will win smiles. You can also crumble this cheese into salad with a simple balsamic and EVOO dressing.

Wine Pairing: Champagne or Port would pair nicely with this cheese.

Beer Pairing: A fruity ale.

Source: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk