One of the best parts of visiting Cheesemakers is they often send you home with a bag full of cheese. In July when I “made” cheese with Sartori’s Master Cheesemakers, Mike Matucheski and Larry Steckbauer, that is exactly what happened… I went home with a several pieces of cheese made at their Antigo plant. Three of the pieces were their American Original, BellaVitano which had been flavored by dipping, soaking, steeping or rubbing.
A few nights ago, The Man and I decided on lighter fare (following our annual health screening); a salad and a cheese plate. I checked out Spaulding’s fridge and chose Chia BellaVitano, like the one I coated at Antigo, Cannella Bellavitano and Balsamic Bellavitano.
When you start with BellaVitano, you know you have a winner. The first time I tasted this cheese, I fell in love with it. It’s not a cheddar; it’s not a parm; it’s BellaVitano Gold; a sweet, nutty cheese with those tasty little protein crystals that add a nice crunch. Sartori’s Master Cheesemakers, like mad scientists, are always experimenting with ways to flavor this cheese and make it even more appealing.
The first of the three Bellas on our cheese plate was rubbed with Chai tea leaves. “Chai” is actually a Hindi word that simply means “tea” but has come to commonly refer to black tea leaves mixed with spices like cardamon and ginger. Not sure what spices Sartori uses or if they buy a prepared mix; but the creaminess and nuttiness of the BellaVitano pairs well with the spiciness of the Chai to create a tasty combination.
The second Bella on our plate was the Limited Edition, Cannella, another spicy cheese; this one flavored with cinnamon that reminded us of those fiery hot candies of long ago. Sartori took the buttery BellaVitano and steeped it in a cinnamon liqueur to create another exciting flavor profile. Next time we have this cheese, I plan to melt it on a slice of apple pie.
The third of our trio of Bellas was the Balsamic and my favorite of the three. Sartori took two of my favorite flavors, balsamic vinegar and BellaVitano, and melded them into a mellow creaminess that defies description. I would like to try this crumbled on a salad with just balsamic vinegar and EVOO. It would probably also add a nice flavor to a Caesar’s salad…
We paired these cheeses with Rustic Bakery Flatbreads; delicious vehicles to move the cheese from the plate to our mouths. We added some nuts and chocolate… perfect end to a perfect day with The Man.
If Spaulding were here with us, I’m pretty sure he’d give the Three Bellas Cheese Plate 4 Paws (out of 4 Paws)… cause that’s all he’s got.
FTC Full Disclosure – The manufacturer sent me their product(s), without any obligation on my part, hoping I would review the product/cheese. For more information, please see my About Me page.