Point Reyes Toma

“They have real cows!” a guy in L.A. told me about the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. in Marin County. He had just been on a trip up the coast and, for some reason, was surprised to find real California cows making real California milk on a real California farm. He was really excited he saw a REAL cow!

I would be, too, especially one that made this luscious, buttery cheese. Toma is a gentle cow’s milk cheese that comes in a large toma-style wheel (toma means “cheese that the farmer made himself” in Italian) with a natural rind. It has a few scattered, irregular holes that taste like pockets of butterfat. The cheese is semi-soft and breaks off or slices with ease. Its aroma of pure butter matches its color and flavor, and true to the lush grasses, its tangy finish tastes of fresh fields. The butter seems to stretch for miles.

A picture from my phone. This cheese is a gorgeous shade of butter yellow, sunny and beta carotene-rich from lush grazing grasses.

A picture from my phone. This cheese is a gorgeous shade of butter yellow, sunny and beta carotene-rich from lush grazing grasses.

Toma is a “melts in your mouth” cheese; it hardly requires chewing. It has a bit of saltiness that would complement sweet fresh fruit. The website (www.pointreyescheese.com)  suggests using it in omelets, mac-n-cheese, casseroles, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

All of Point Reyes cheeses are “certified kosher,” according to the website. I contacted the farm about the exact hechsher and packaging of Toma, but I have yet to receive a response. It is likely under the KORC and cholov stam, as is the much celebrated Point Reyes Original Blue. As far as I know, Toma is not sold pre-packaged, so the 10 lb. wheel would need to be purchased and handled in its entirety to keep the kashrus intact.

Elizabeth Bland, The Cheese Mistress
http://www.cheesemistress.com

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Good Day Sunshine! Tomato Olive Cheese Brings the Warmth

NKtomolive92Tomato Olive Cheese invites the Mediterranean sun into your kitchen. Based on a creamy white Prairie Jack, it is dotted with bits of sun-dried tomatoes, black and green olives, oregano, basil, and garlic. While Tomato Olive Cheese contains several ingredients typical of a basic Italian herb cheese, it is far more. The spices do not overpower, but instead add a subtle backdrop to the roasted sweet the tomatoes and zingy olives. The herb mix is well-balanced, allowing the fruits to be the stars of the cheese.

Viva con passione! Tomato Olive Cheese is eager to entertain as a cheeseboard favorite with bites of grape tomatoes, olives, nuts, and crostini. It also loves to melt over your favorite Italian pasta dishes and pizza. Anywhere it goes, it adds rays of sunshine and intrigue.

NKtomolivepackSincerely, Brigitte™ is one of AI Foods’ kosher labels. This particular line reflects AI’s cheese maven Brigitte Mizrahi’s passion for creativity-inspired cheeses that deliver “an explosion of flavor in every bite of cheese.” With conversation-starters such as Jalapeño & Cilantro Cheese, Chipotle Cheese, Roasted Garlic & Chives Cheese, and Blue Marble, Brigitte hopes to bring cheese lovers together into a community of cheese expression.

Sincerely, Brigitte™ cheeses bear the Wisconsin Cheese label and the kosher certification symbol OK-D. These cheeses are cholov stam and vegetarian. They are available in select supermarkets and specialty stores.

Elizabeth Bland
http://www.cheesemistress.com

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Cheesy Pão for Pesach

pandequeijoPão de Queijo (“bread of cheese” in Portuguese) is a gluten-free cheese bread, originally from Brazil. It is usually served in snack-sized bread balls, and is eaten at breakfast with coffee or as a side snack. The bread itself is based on cassava flour instead of wheat flour.

Because it contains no wheat, Pão de Queijo is ideal for those on a gluten-free diet or who are observing Passover.cassava

Cassava, also known as “yuca” in Spanish (not to be confused with the yucca plant), is a root of a plant. When cassava is dried and ground up into a powder or pearls, it is called tapioca. A chewy cassava-based bread is a nice change of pace during Passover when bread-stuffs can be heavy and crumbly.

CaciqueQB50

Brazilian cheese balls may contain a number of cheeses. One traditional Hispanic cheese that is sometimes available kosher is Queso Blanco or Queso Fresco. This fresh, bright white cow’s milk cheese works as a mild table cheese for its milky flavor, but it is also used “para freir” (for frying). It melts, yet maintains its shape, meaning it doesn’t run or separate under heat. Cacique’s Queso Blanco is certified kosher dairy by Rabbi Yisroel Kelemer of Three Line K Kosher in Beverly Hils, CA.

Some recipes for Pão de Queijo call for feta, Monterey Jack, mozzarella or parmesan, all readily available in a kosher format.

cheesenrolls2When I worked at Pomegranate kosher specialty supermarket in Brooklyn (Midwood) a few years ago, we sold kosher for Passover Cheese N’ Rolls, made by Kessem. They were cholov yisroel with certification under Arugas Habasham. Cheese N’ Rolls are sold online at www.allfreshkosher.com. I hope to see them in the Passover section in stores as well.

Stacy Viera, a food photographer, offers a Passover cheese bread recipe which uses either mozzarella or parmesan: http://jewishfoodexperience.com/recipes/pao-de-queijo/

Elizabeth Bland
The Cheese Mistress

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Kosher Horseradish Cheddar by The Good Life Cheese

Strange foods, pungent foods, spicy foods, and even disturbingly stinky foods have a mysterious appeal. Is it nostalgia? Is it the dare factor? Is it “seasoned” taste buds on a quest for the next thrill? The answer could lie in that hazy moment suspended between repugnance and pleasure when a palate wonders: “Is this good or bad?” Taste it again and again to decide – until the sheer ambiguity becomes delightful.

IMG_0439Eating horseradish is one such experience; it is a love-it-or-hate-it foodstuff that is ingrained in Jewish culture. It has a place on the seder plate as the bitter herb maror; it is an accompaniment to gefilte fish; and it now shows up in kosher cheese!

When I worked at Pomegranate (kosher specialty supermarket) in Brooklyn, I got to experience horseradish grating first hand. “No, you can’t go in the kitchen!” a co-worker warned. “Nobody is allowed in the kitchen for three hours.” I peaked in the door window and a big burly Israeli cook – tough enough to have served in the IDF – was no match for the pungent smell and burning sting of horseradish. He was wearing a gas mask, leaning over an industrial mixer, scraping the precious horseradish into the bowl.

horseradishyiddish

Yiddish proverb from http://www.yiddishwit.com: “Az der vorem zitst in khreyn, meynt er az es iz keyn zisers nito.” When a worm sits in horseradish, it thinks there’s nothing sweeter.

The Good Life Cheese’s Horseradish Cheddar doesn’t require a gas mask, but it is decidedly hot—hotter than I perceive jarred horseradish, which usually strikes me as mildly hot and pungent. The Good Life Cheese starts off with a mellow base cheese flavor and a hint of pungency. Next comes an intense tingling and spice-driven heat that borders on a capsaicin experience. At the very end, the sharpness of the Cheddar comes out.

This cheese is excellent alone with crackers, on a tomato sandwich, or melted on whole grain bread for cheese toast. Perhaps kosher horseradish cheese pique interest in a milchig Pesach seder. Who wouldn’t enjoy a Hillel matzoh cheese sandwich with trimmings of Romaine lettuce? Warning: Keep hands away from eyes after eating this cheese. I learned from a mishap that Horseradish Cheddar can cause bitter tears!

GLCkosherThe Good Life Cheese’s Horseradish Cheddar is one of a large selection of kosher cheese varieties. Foodworks Cheese is out of Monsey, NY. It is certified by Rabbi Dovid Katz of Avenue L in Brooklyn, NY, and it is Kosher for Passover year round.

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Kosherfest 2014

kosherfestcheeseI am back in the Tri-State area! I was able to attend Kosherfest 2014 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. More updates on the latest in kosher cheese to come, but for now here are a few pics from the show.

I came back with lots of goodies from the Natural & Kosher booth and was able to speak briefly to the CEO, Brigitte Mizrahi.
NK Kosherfest bag

Natural & Kosher cheeses are OK-D and cholov stam. You can recognize them by the red “kosher authority seal.”

N&K offers cheese in a variety of formats, including slices, shreds, sticks and grated tubs. I especially enjoyed the Swiss slices and the Sincerely Brigitte Jalapeno Cilantro, which can be seen on this Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SincerelyBrigitte.

Kosherfest 2014
Last but not least, I got a photo opp with my former manager Gabe Boxer from when I was a cheesemonger at Pomegranate (kosher specialty grocery) in Brooklyn. We are enjoying nougats from the French La Maison du Nougat at the Sterling Sales booth.

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Kosher Blue Cheese at Kosherfest 2012

I’m off to Kosherfest 2012. I’ll be in full Cheese Mistress mode, complete with my big orange kosher cheese hat! Today I’m in search of kosher blue cheese. I’m sure to visit my friend Brent Delman at The Cheese Guy booth. Already I have tried his domestic blue cheese that is under OU-D. This cheese is not a stinker, literally or figuratively! Already crisp and clean, it becomes even brighter wtih spikes of blue.

Blue Cheese by The Cheese Guy

Check back for the Cheese Mistress latest findings at Kosherfest 2012.

Elizabeth Bland
The Cheese Mistress
www.kcheese.com

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