Northeazy

Tommes typically hail from France or Switzerland, are made from skim milk and are a natural match with pickles, olives and other Francophile accompaniments. But what should you do when you meet a Minnesota-made tomme crafted from rich whole milk? Pair it with Israeli-style pickles, of course.

Perhaps that’s not an obvious duo, but a buttery tomme – in this case, the Lone Grazer Creamery’s Northeazy – can stand up well to the tangy, vinegary, tumeric-tinted pickles from the must-have cookbook “Zahav.” Call it a bridge between two cultures (pun very much intended) or just the result of a random scavenging of the refrigerator one day, but I call it delicious.

Northeazy-CheeseandChampagne

I typically don’t try to post about two of particular creamy’s cheeses in a row, but having been gifted almost an entire wheel of Northeazy after a work event, it would have been a pity to pass on such an opportunity. Unlike Hansom Cab, Northeazy isn’t washed in whiskey or other libations, which allows more leeway in pairing options. The crusty exterior encases a spongy delight of thick, yellowish, slightly sweet paste. It won’t break down and ooze, of course – that would be very un-tomme like – but when the paste bulges under a love squeeze, you’ll know it’s ripe for snacking.

Now for these pickles. Well, there’s not a speck of dill in sight. Instead, you get a crisp, sharp bite, and the mixture of carrots, celery and cauliflower offer a variety of bites ranging from sweet to woodsy to super-crunch. Though they could be the star of any mezze tray, make them the centerpiece of your cheese board for a change, along with fluffy wedges of homemade pita (no flat, sad store-bought discs allowed!) and a bowl of Zahav’s life-changing hummus. Middle East + Midwest = cheese and pickle paradise.

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Have you had your fill of adorable baby goat pics on Instagram yet? Okay, that may not be possible … but the even better news is that all that kidding around has led us to this moment: the beginning of fresh chèvre season! I had to give up my daily chèvre toast for Passover — but made do with honey, blueberry and chèvre topped matzo meal pancakes. Thankfully we’re back in all-carbs all-the-time season again and ready to mix things up with some springy goat cheese topped crostini.

whipped goat cheese spring crostini recipe | cheeseandchampagne.com

I whipped lemon zest and mint into fresh chèvre, added a touch of butter to make it unbelievably creamy, and spread it on toasted baguette slices before adding all the spring things: radish, peas, strawberries, micro greens. Ramps and asparagus would also be quite welcome. Oh, and did I mention those strawberries were steeped in lemon verbena syrup?

lemon mint whipped chèvre | cheeseandchampagne.com

Serve these for your next brunch (oh hey, did we mention Mother’s Day is this weekend?) or pack up the baguette and toppings for a build-your-own crostini picnic. Obviously, these pair best with a bottle of rosé enjoyed al fresco.

Lemon Mint Whipped Chèvre

makes enough for 1 dozen crostini

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon cultured butter, softened
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • several fresh mint leaves
  • sea salt

Instructions:

Place goat cheese and butter in food processor and mix until smooth. Add lemon zest, juice, mint and a pinch of sea salt and pulse until mint and zest is well incorporated. Remove from processor and store, covered, in refrigerator if not using right away.

chèvre with radish, peas and strawberries | cheeseandchampagne.com

The crostini combinations are virtually endless, but here are a few topping ideas to get you started: thinly sliced radish, sliced snap peas, mashed English peas, shaved asparagus, pickled ramps (you could also replace the mint with ramps to spice this up), sautéed mushrooms, green garlic, strawberries, raspberries…. I suppose it would be easier to have said just go to the farmers market and pick up whatever looks good.

Tell us, how do you top your chèvre toast?

 

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Lone Grazer Creamery’s Hansom Cab, Minnesota

April 4, 2016

So it’s been a long time. How long, you might ask, since I posted? Well, so long that a new cheesemaker in town has opened its creamery doors and developed not one, but three signature cheeses. My excuse? I now have not one, but three signature children. It’s been a bit busy. But bygones – I’m […]

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Ripe! a DC Cheese Party Returns April 3

March 23, 2016

Hello cheese friends! For those of you in our nation’s capital, get ready to celebrate the end of winter (and avoid the teaming hordes of tourists here to see the cherry blossoms) with the 2nd annual Ripe! DC cheese party. On Sunday, April 3, local and regional cheesemakers and top European importers will share their wares […]

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Truffle Cheddar Mac & Cheese

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I have a ritual each year of checking out the menu preview for the Oscars night, in hopes of seeing a selection of artisan cheeses called out by name, to no avail. I don’t see how you can have such a big gala without cheese as the centerpiece, but at least I also haven’t yet […]

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Smokin’ Hot Valentine’s Day Cheeseboard for Two

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First there was Big Block of Cheese Day, then National Cheese Lovers’ Day, but we’re still riding the cheese love train right on into Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with someone you love or alone eating a big hunk of gouda (y’all saw New Girl this past week, right?!), you’re going to want […]

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CheeseBowl 2016: Battle of the …. Goats?

February 5, 2016

Sure the Panthers and Broncos may be the ones playing in the Big Game this weekend, but as far as we know, no one is (yet) milking either animal for cheese … at least not that’s commercially available. Though I would like to see someone attempt to milk a bronco…. Fortunately for those of us who […]

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Big Block of Cheese Day 2016; All Puns, No Cheese?

January 12, 2016

As has become the tradition at the White House, the day after the State of the Union will once again be Big Block of Cheese Day. An Aaron Sorkin/West Wing-inspired throwback to the days of President Andrew Jackson, the event sadly no longer features an actual block of cheese but instead is a day during […]

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12 Days of Cheesemas!

December 24, 2015

Doing some last minute holiday shopping? Here’s our wishlist…. If you need a last-minute card for the special fromagaphile in your life, we’ve got a free downloadable version for you right here. If you haven’t heard, it’s a true Cheesemas miracle: Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese is BACK! After a one-year hiatus, it’s back in a limited […]

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And The Winners Are…

August 1, 2015

The 30th annual Academy of Cheese awards — technically the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition Awards, took place last night in Providence, Rhode Island. There were 355 ribbons awarded to the best of 1,779 cheeses entered from producers in North and South America. For the first time in competition history, the winner was a […]

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