Hi! Third post. Thought I’d play around a bit more with the whole fruit/cheese pairing thing like I did in my last post. I got a little fancy with this one, however, and used TWO different cheeses.
Pave du Nord is a French cheese made from raw cow’s milk. The seemingly-impossible bright orange color comes from annatto (a dye made from the seeds of a tropical tree) and the crusty exterior comes from… cheese mites. That’s right. Hundreds of tiny, many-legged, burrowing mites. Kinda gross, yeah? These little buggers are part of the same arachnid family as ticks but prefer sucking down cheese to sucking down blood. I guess I can’t argue with that? They’re introduced to the exterior of the cheese (on purpose, oh goodness) early on in the aging process and are left to dig around on the surface for a while, which helps to flavor it. Apparently. It’s aged anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years and like most aged cheeses the flavor deepens and mellows the older it gets. If you like reasonably sharp cheddar then you’d probably like this stuff. It has a richer, smoother taste than the sort of cheddar that comes vacuum sealed in plastic at the grocer’s, though.
Taleggio is a washed-rind cheese from the Lombardy region of northern Italy. And honestly, it kind of stinks. But don’t let that stop you from trying it!! It’s kind of known for its, erm, pungency, which comes from the rind being wiped down once a week with saltwater while it’s aging in a cave somewhere. For the longest time it wasn’t available commercially in the States because US import laws suck when it comes to raw/unpasteurized milk products. Its availability has improved in the last few years and you can even find it in the cheese sections of better grocery stores. It’s honestly not the smelliest cheese I’ve ever eaten and its mild, almost fruity taste definitely comes as a pleasant surprise once you get past the aroma. It has a kind of buttery mouthfeel and a bit of a tangy aftertaste. Like most washed-rind cheeses this stuff gets kind of gooey at room temperature so if you’re going to be cutting into a wedge it’s best to do so after it’s been in the fridge for a while.
If the idea of eating a sandwich made from bug-encrusted and stinky cheeses is less than appetizing, maybe you should skip this one. Or find suitable alternative cheeses! The latter is a better idea, and I’d suggest going with a medium-sharp cheddar and maybe fontina? A riper brie would work too. If you do get your hands on some Pave du Nord cut the rind off and you’re good to go. I went with some basic wheat bread, nothing too special and red grapes because they’re a bit sweeter than the green sort. I realized after taking that last photo that there was waaaay too much cheese on that sandwich; I ended up using only about half of what you see in the picture and it was more than enough. This is only my third post, I don’t need my arteries clogging up just yet!
Toast the bread so it stays nice and crusty and spread some Earth Balance or other butter/butter substitute on the outsides. Keep the pan on medium-low heat so the bread won’t burn before the cheese starts to melt. The Taleggio did what I knew it would do, which was basically make a mess on my stovetop. My advice would be to put the side of bread with the Pave du Nord down in the pan first and get that one going before adding the Taleggio since it will take longer to melt. Or don’t, if you enjoy crusty chewy bits of cheese (some people do! who am I to judge?).
No lie, this was an absolute trainwreck to eat. Eating something like this straight off the skillet would be akin to eating a napalm sandwich so I set it aside for a bit to let the cheese cool down and re-coagulate a bit. It was good! The grapes added kind of an interesting texture and an excellent flavor component. I felt a smidge ridiculous cutting them in half to put on the sandwich but I’m glad I did as they would have just rolled off the bread otherwise. Not that slowly oozing down a veritable cheesy landslide was a better fate, though.
Tunes during this GC session were provided by the wickedly underappreciated Zombies in the form of their Live At BBC album which is a collection of their performances on BBC radio in the mid-60′s. I absolutely love this band and this compilation has all sorts of goodies like friendly banter! Covers of Curtis Mayfield and Nat King Cole songs! And a live version of my favorite song of theirs:
Enjoy and tasty grillings to you.