It’s no secret that I have a “Cheese Crush” on Sartori’s BellaVitanos… so when they announced a new flavor release in February, visions of Bella danced before my eyes… well maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I plead “Excited”.
Sartori has had great success with their line of flavored BellaVitanos, which are true American Originals; rubbing wheels with herbs, EVOO, spices and tea; other wheels are brined in various tasty solutions from rum to merlot to raspberry ale to top-shelf cognac; all of which are mouth-wateringly delicious… or as my mother likes to say, “Luscious”.
I first met BellaVitano Gold during the 2009 Holiday season back in my cheese slinging days and was immediately hooked. BellaVitano is sweet and nutty with both cheddar and parm notes. When I had the opportunity in 2013 to “make” Sartori cheese with Master Cheesemakers Larry and Mike at their Antigo plant, I asked if they would share the recipe with me. When they finally stopped laughing, the answer was simple, “No.” (As I have mentioned before, when Cheesemakers invite civilians to “make” cheese with them it usually means doing things that won’t mess it up. However, Larry, Mike and the crew at Sartori were amazingly generous, allowing me to do a bit of everything from adding the rennet and cultures to the milk to hooping the curds to tossing wheels into brine and finally rubbing Chai Tea on wheels of BellaVitano. Sartori’s crack marketing team, Sue and Rachel, made a video of my day with the gang. That day I felt like the Queen of Cheese… a title also claimed by many Facebook friends…
Because I am in Georgia visiting my parents, my mom and I did the tasting of the Citrus Ginger BellaVitano. We began by smelling the rubbed rind and caught a hint of ginger but neither of us picked up citrus. Next we played with the paste; holding it between our fingers and squeezing it. At first it’s crumbly; as it warms it becomes creamy.
The rind reflects the rub with a pleasant umami taste; not too much, just enough to let you know that ginger and citrus are there. Away from the rind, the flavors associated with all Bellas brought a smile to my face and a satisfying sigh to my palate. Both sweet and savory, it left a lingering nutty note.
We tasted the cheese naked then we drizzled it with our favorite Sourwood Honey from local Blue Haven Bee Company (They’re down to their final three cases of the 2014 season – if you want to purchase a flask or two, don’t wait… or you’ll be waiting until next fall. Mom and I bought six flasks this week and I shipped half of it home to The Man… hopefully some will still be there when I return… well… I can hope…). Finally we set the cheese on a simple Club Cracker and topped it with Valley Fig’s Orchard Choice Port Wine Fig Spread**. That combination worked best for mom; I had to slow her down as we have another tasting later today… ahhh… the life of being a cheese geek…
I give the new Sartori Citrus Ginger BellaVitano 4 Paws and when topped with the Sourwood Honey or the Port Wine Fig Spread… it becomes a swooning 4 Paws.
Mom’s house is a “Dry” zone so I did not pair with wine nor beer. When I return home, I’ll try a Sweet Riesling and maybe even a Sake…
**Valley Fig is “Spreading the Love” by sponsoring a Giveaway of a Four-Pack of their Orchard Choice Fig Spreads. Please sign-up here for your chance to win.
FTC Full Disclosure – The manufacturer of one or more products provided samples, hoping I would review their product(s). For more information regarding my acceptance of samples and reviews of products, please visit my “About Me” page.
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