Southern Cotton Honey Cheese Plate – Marcella The Cheesemonger International Guilde des Fromagers
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Southern Cotton Honey Cheese Plate

Save the Date: 6pm, Friday, August 18, 2017: Mead, Wine, Honey and Cheese Tasting. Blue Haven Bee Company and Southern Origins Meadery, Canon, Georgia… stay tuned for details; tickets on sale soon.

We’ll be tasting the Southern Cotton Honey at the August 18th event but I got an early tasting this week while pairing cheeses with the Southern Origins Mead and other Northern Georgia wines.

Friday, The Man, Miss Anne and I decided to taste the honey with three cheeses and a few Marcona Almonds:

Alone, Southern Cotton is sweet and buttery with a tangy finish. Light but not too light. A perfect honey for cheese pairing. One that will enhance the cheese without getting in the way or over-powering its own flavor profiles. We like to say, any pairing that you like is a good pairing and while true, finding pairings that compliment each other is not always easy. Southern Cotton makes pairing with cheese easy and fun. These are the days I love working with cheese… I get to play with cheese and honey and throw in a couple wines… ta da…

In chatting with one of Blue Haven’s Certified Beekeepers, Caleb Kidd, I learned that cotton can grow in Georgia clay soil (where we live in North Georgia) and also in the loamy soil of South Georgia. However, bees can only make honey from the flower blooms of the cotton growing in the loamy soil. Southern Cotton comes from hives near Bainbridge, Georgia, just north of the Florida Georgia line.

First on the plate was Costco exclusive from Sartori; the new Anejo Tequila-bathed BellaVitano. Every time I think the “Mad Scientists” Cheesemakers at Sartori can’t create another tasty riff on their Bella, they go and do it. This time they bathed this nutty, sweet Award-Winning American Original in Tequila to add another layer of sweetness near the rindless edge. in 2013, the day before I successfully sat for the ACS CCP Exam®, I visited Antigo, Wisconsin  at Sartori with Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers,  Mike Matucheski and Larry Steckbauer “making” BellaVitano. I helped every step from adding the starter and rennet to the locally-sourced fresh milk to packing curds into the hoops to tossing wheels into the brine to rubbing Chai into wheels and walking through the aging room with Mike. They gave me a look into their “lab” where they were creating and playing with new ways to take Bella to new levels.

Pairing the Tequila Bella with the Southern Cotton Honey was a nice blend of the three sweet flavors. You might think that it would be too much sweet… not that that could ever happen in my world… but it wasn’t. The tangy finish of the honey might be the secret here but whatever it is… it’s a pairing that works.

If you are a Costco member, get your wedge while you can and if not… you’ll have to wait…

Next on the plate was Monique, a sheep and cow milk blend sent to me by the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Coop. Monique is like a new boyfriend… someone you know will be fun to date again. Monique is creamy and mild with just a hint of that wonderful lanolin finish I love in sheep milk cheeses.

I am often asked to share my favorite cheese and that’s an impossible question but when it comes to favorite style of cheese, sheep milk cheeses are in my three top favorites. There’s just something sublimely special about sheep milk cheeses. A little walk on the wild side without getting into the weeds. Sadly, with the closing of Many Fold Farm earlier this year, once again the cheese community was slapped with the reality of the difficulty here in the USA to be a sheepherder and sheep milk cheese maker. Janet Fletcher’s interview with Many Fold Farm co-owner, Rebecca Williams, sheds light on how our USDA (vs. the EU) has addressed these issues.

Paired with the Southern Cotton was another winner; the honey added a complexity to Monique that left me wanting more.

The last cheese on the plate was also from the Wisconsin Dairy Coop, a sheep milk cheddar. Just looking at it and you know it’s from Wisconsin. But the annatto orange color is where the similarity to most Wisconsin cow cheddars ends. Creamy and light with a smooth finish. Again, with the Southern Cotton, the pairing was perfect.

I chose the new 34° Lemon Crisps. Slightly sweet, these crackers pulled the entire plate together with savory cheese and Southern Cotton honey.

My thanks to the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Coop for sending me their cheddar and Monique cheeses. My thanks to Costco for working hard to have more than just a box store cheese selection. I also thank the great folks at 34° for sending me their new Lemon Crisps**.

Congratulations to our 2017 ACS CCP Exam and Conference Winners: Kelley Jewell, Tyler Frankenberg, ACS CCP® Hazel-Rue Woodies and ACS CCP® Matt Bellingham. Thanks to the generous donations from cheese lovers everywhere, we are thrilled to send these four worthy recipients to Denver this July!!! You can read all the details here. 

Save the Date!!  If you’re in NE Georgia and Upstate South Carolina: August 18th: Mead, Wine and Cheese Tasting at Southern Origin and Blue Haven Bee Company in Canon, Georgia. I will be pairing cheeses with their new line of meads and local North Georgia Wines. Tickets will be on sale soon…stay tuned for details. 

** 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.



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