While in Northeast Georgia this fall, I put together a cheese board that would appeal to Miss Anne and The Tall Guy (as Dear Spaulding called my parents). Part of Dad’s complaints during his illness has been his lack of appetite and sensitivity to certain flavors.
While visiting my parents, The Man and I had ventured north to Helen, Georgia and stopped in a country store on the edge of town. A woman was offering samples of Hushallsost, a semi-soft Farmer’s Cheese from Sweden. She paired it with a local fig jam, Anna’s Ginger Thins and some kind of fruity hot drink made with a cider base. The drink didn’t appeal to me but I was confident Dad would enjoy the cheese and cookies.
BTW, I hung around for a few minutes, watching the tasting and the demo woman was impressively slinging the cheese. I saw several customers buy whole wheels and I bought a half wheel (under $12.00) and a box of the thins. Once more proving the retail adage, “If you get it in their mouths…”
When we returned from Helen, Mom and I decided that cooking was off the table but a cheese board would be a perfect ending to the day.
The good folks at Cabot Cheese Co-Op in Vermont had sent me samples of their new Farmers’ Legacy Collection of Cheddars to taste and use in recipes… and dinner was born…
In my parents’ basement are stacks of hoop cheese wooden containers and I remembered seeing (on Instagram) a lid used as a cheese board. I snagged one, cleaned it up and started cutting and preparing.
Hushallsost, which means “household cheese” in Swedish, is a semi-soft cheese, with a paste reminiscent of Port Salut. There is no rind (it is not washed like Port Salut) because the cheese is aged about sixty days in a clingy, plastic wrap. I detected no aroma and the flavor was mild with a buttery finish. I paired it with the ginger thins and my mom’s homemade fig/strawberry spread. Both Dad and The Man loved this cheese pairing… And though not related by blood, both men exhibited the gene known as not-sharing and believing the cheese was made just for the two of them… it’s a good thing I bought half a wheel or Mom and I would have been left without a taste… sheesh… seriously, Dad loved it and it was good to see him eating…
On the same board, I had slices of the three new Cabot Cheese Co-op Cheddars. The flavors of the three ranged from buttery and creamy to bold with a sharp, lingering finish.
The White Oak Cheddar reminded me of their iconic Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, which is aged at The Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm. I tasted butterscotch with a hint of the oak from the aging wood. We paired this with dried cranberries, nuts and Blue Haven Bee Company’s local Sourwood Honey. It was divine. This was Dad’s favorite.
After the White Oak, we tasted the Alpine Cheddar, aptly named as it has notes of Sbrinz, the ancient Swiss cheese that some claim inspired the Italians to create their wonderful Granas… I could probably go to Vegas and lay down a bet that there are no Italians making that claim… but I digress… The Alpine Cheddar had a similar texture and just enough salt and nuttiness to remind me of Grana Padano. In addition to being an excellent snacking cheese, I would use this to “finish” any pasta dish. Which is exactly what I did with the second sample the next time I made Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce. The Man swooned again but while Miss Anne liked this cheese the best, swooning is beneath her…
The Farmhouse Reserve had the most assertive flavor of the three and was my favorite. Crumbly with notes similar to the best of the West Country’s Traditional English Cheddars, this cheese popped for me. I paired it first with mom’s fig/strawberry spread and then with the Sourwood Honey. I liked the honey combination better, although it was close.
The cheddars were paired with the new limited edition 34 Degree Poppyseed and Toasted Onion Crispbreads (also samples sent to me by Craig and the gang in Denver). Both stood up to the cheddars without getting in the way. I preferred the Poppyseed and The Man preferred the Toasted Onion. Again it was a close race.
For your holiday platters, you should include some 34 Degree Crackers; I always have at least a box or two in The Manse’s pantry. However, the Poppyseed and Toasted Onion are fall “specials” and may not be around too long… so walk, don’t run to your favorite specialty cheese shop and get them before they are gone… just sayin’.
I give our Lavonia Cheese Board 4 Paws and as always, look forward to more cheeses from Cabot. They never disappoint.
In addition to using the Cabot on pasta, I also used a combination of the three to make a savory pimento cheese, aka “The Pate of The South” and rightfully so. Like my mom and most likely 80% of the homes in The South, there is ALWAYS a container of freshly made pimento cheese in my fridge. This combination might have made Miss Anne swoon…
FTC Full Disclosure – The cheesemaker and manufacturers sent me their products, hoping I would review the product/cheese. For more information and my policy regarding samples for reviewing, please check out my About Me page.