Cheese

Greetings.

This is my first blog posting.  Therefore I thought I would venture out into this new medium with a personal and rather frivolous test posting. Hopefully this post will not be characteristic of future postings to come.

I love cheese. Good cheese that is. 

Feta is my all-time favorite. I consume large quantities of it – although not very often. My affection for feta goes way back to my childhood. It was customary to find it on the breakfast table, offered as a snack during the day, and as an addition to any dinner feast. It was usually eaten smeared on or wrapped in fresh, hot, flatbreads or lavash bread, often with a sprig of fresh mint, or a slice of cucumber. These days, I enjoy it on lavash breads, since I have a hard time finding good flatbreads, or with a good Ciabatta bread. I do like to include cucumber slices, but instead of mint, I use an herb known back in the old country as Kakuti, which sort of is a cross between peppermint and thyme. (Ziziphora is the closest Western name I can associate with it. The Kakuti I have may be very different from the original one I grew up with. My dad somehow found it in the wild in Walnut Creek (nearby in Northern California), and planted some here and there. Before we sold our last house, I dug up a batch that was mysteriously growing by the old fire trail and transplanted to the new house. Ok, I’ll have to save more Kakuti stories for another blog posting).

I enjoy my bread and feta (“nun va paneer” as it is called in Farsi) along with a glass (yes, a glass cup, not a mug) of hot, sweetened, black tea. Surprisingly, when it is warm out, or I have no hot tea available, then Coca Cola is a good substitute. Don’t ask. 

As for the exact type of feta, I prefer French feta or Bulgarian feta as a distant second. My preferred brand of commonly available French feta is Valbreso, which is made from sheep’s milk. If you’re reading this in the EU, pretty soon Valbreso and other brands have to stop calling these cheeses “feta” and use another term; in the EU “feta” can now only refer to cheese made in certain parts of Greece, of at least 75% sheep’s milk.

One last note about feta: once you have opened its package, store it submerged in brine (saltwater) in an airtight container. Feta will dry out quickly and become unpalatable, if any part of it is not submerged in brine. If you keep it in plain water, the water will take the salt out of the feta, which may be a strategy for those who want to reduce their salt intake. You can balance the feta’s saltiness to your liking by varying the amount of salt you add to the water you store it in.

While I can eat large quantities of feta (with bread, mints and cucumbers) at any sitting, just like having a glass or two of a fine wine, there are cheeses that are best consumed in small quantities, like sipping an exquisite port.

For the past few years my favorite “sipping” cheese has been a hard cheese from Italy called “Piave”. It’s made from cow’s milk and aged, and goes well with red wines – try it with an Elan Cab (Napa, Atlas Peak appellation), which is from the winery where I first discovered this cheese. The vintner knows well how to pair his wine and cheese.

Piave’s not very easy to find – specialty cheese shops should be able to get you some. To give you an idea of how it tastes, think Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino, and imagine an even more flavorful taste.

That about wraps up my test posting. I doubt I’ll be writing about food anytime soon, but who knows. Maybe I’ll run out of inedible things to critique.

-mz

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~ by mz on August 27, 2008.

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