BelGioioso recently released a new line of cheeses labeled “La Bottega di BelGioioso™”. From creation to distribution, every step is touched by the hands of the professionals at BelGioioso: handmade, hand selected, hand cut and hand wrapped in smaller sizes, making them perfect for cheese boards. The cheeses in this collection are the best that BelGioioso has to offer.
Yesterday I served three cheeses from this collection plus homemade crisps using the American Grana (also from the collection and aged twenty-four months) and Asiago.**
I paired the cheeses with two Creminelli Salumis: Varzi, pre-sliced paper-thin and seasoned with sea salt and nutmeg, and a Fig Salumi. (Read my interviews with Creminelli Founder, Cristiano Creminelli and Marketing Director, Vanessa Chang ACS CCP™)
Each guest had four jellies to taste from Kelly’s Jelly of Oregon, a small-batch jelly maker. Kelly won a 2016 Good Food Award for her Habanero Jelly, which was one of the ones I served with Pineapple Habanero, Strawberry Preserves and Blueberry Lemon Preserves.
Everything sat on top of a 34 Degrees Natural Crisps – the crisp that stands up to the pairings but doesn’t get in the way… exactly what you want in a crisp-style cracker.
This board was quite successful: the only downside seemed to be that our guests couldn’t pick a favorite pairing. I asked each guest to use a 1 to 5 scale for rating and almost every pairing received a 5, there were a few 4s but nothing less.
Let’s start with the cheeses: the first cheese on the board was Crescenza-Stracchino, a mild, fresh creamy cheese with a tangy finish. I love this cheese; in the past I have used it on pizza and simply combined it with a few fresh herbs toasted, open-faced, on yeast rolls. On a cheese board and paired with any of the jellies, this whole-milk cheese delivers a “perfect bite”; add the Nutmeg-laced Creminelli Varzi and you’re off to the cheese races.
The second cheese on the board created by BelGioioso Master Cheesemaker, Gianni Toffolon, was from their La Bottega di BelGioioso Artigiano™ Cheese line: Artigiano™ Classico. Gianni crafted home-grown cultures to create a sweet and nutty cheese. I detected some Parmesan notes and the name hints at that… the aging delivers those little crystals we love to discover in aged Parms, Cheddars and Goudas. Both of the meats complemented this cheese and the jellies were simply the icing on the cake.
Third up was another from the Artigiano™ line: the Classico that has been enrobed in Modena Balsamic Vinegar and sweet Cipollini Onions. Amazing flavor that paired well with the Creminelli Fig Salumi.
The last “cheese” on the plate was the American Grana/Asiago Crisp that I made “in-house”. As you know, I love crisps and have reviewed several of the ones on the market. With a bit of modesty, I think homemade in tiny batches (I only made a total of nine crisps using recipe below) is a fun way to go… when you have time… My guests seemed to vary here the most in pairing choices; half liked the spicy jellies and half went with the Strawberry Preserves.
Before sharing the dessert platter, I want to compliment Cristiano and his crew at Creminelli: the Varzi Salumi popped with nutmeg – simply amazing. The Fig Salumi was a bit more subtle in taste, but again, delicious.
This cheese and salami board proves that all you need are simple, quality foods to create a luscious “picnic”. I added a few nuts and dried apples to the board.
The dessert platter featured BelGioioso’s Mascarpone and Salem Bakery’s Meyer Lemon Morovian Cookies and my homemade banana nut bread…topping the cookie with the mascarpone and Kelly’s Blueberry Lemon Preserves is all you need before dying and going to heaven. The Man swooned… and topping the banana nut bread with the creamy, sweet richness of the mascarpone and Kelly’s Habanero Jelly… well… perfect ending to a perfect evening with friends and family.
This was definitely a 4 Paws Cheese Board.
**Recipe for Cheese Crisps
2 ounces La Bottega di BelGioioso™ American Grana – grated
2 ounces BelGioioso Asiago – shredded
Heat oven to 350 degrees F
Mix two cheeses together.
Create mounds on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Press down on mounds.
Bake 8-12 minutes until a light golden brown.
Cool on paper towels.
Serve at room temperature.
Makes 9-12 crisps depending on size.
Interviews with Cheese Professionals continue through 2016… sometimes, as “stand-alone” interviews and sometimes as round-table discussions with several Pros answering the same question. Those participating include Cheesemakers,ACS CCPs™,Cheesemongers and Cheese Experts who contribute to this Wonderful World we call “Cheese”.
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FTC Full Disclosure: All of the producers sent samples of their products to assist me in a pairing project I am currently creating. (Except the Salem Bakery Meyer lemon Cookies which I bought at Costco.)