I don’t purchase fontina very often. With all the artisanal varieties to choose from these days, why waste my dollars and taste buds on something as basic – and often, boring – as fontina? Well, I found a fontina, as well as its perfect pairing, that erased my misgivings.
We first discovered Vermont’s Maplebrook Farm in 2011, when we swooned over its burrata and the way it elevated a typical Caprese salad. Maplebrook must have the magic touch because its new fontina did the same for my grilled cheese sandwich.
Fontina is known for being a mild, nutty cheese, but Maplebrook’s version features a candy-like sweetness that was love at first taste. It’s still a relatively young cheese, so you won’t find the crunchy bursts of intensely sugary crystals that often appear in an aged gouda, but you get a hint of a similar flavor.
But what really takes this fontina up a notch is pairing it with my favorite apple – I’m talking Honeycrisps, of course – and melting a generous handful of shreds on two slices of thick rustic bread. The Honeyscrisps heighten the fontina’s sweetness while adding a delightful crunch. But to prevent the sandwich from tasting more appropriate for dessert than lunch, a few well-placed leaves of arugula add a peppery bite. Oh, and there’s butter – lots and lots of butter.
If Honeycrisp season may be over in your part of the country, swap out any sweet, firm apple for the Honeycrisp. But don’t you dare substitute the Maplebrook fontina. Your deli-case variety certainly won’t do in this case.