There will be many opportunities in the coming bright, full days to celebrate the summer season with food. Grilling out, picnicking, and camping are some of the great pleasures we enjoy at this time of year. And what is a good summer meal without a bit of delicious, indulgent cheese to top it off? We often think of cheeses as being heavier foodstuffs, good for adding protein and fat to our dwindling winter diets—and, of course, they are terrific for that. But who can imagine a grill-out with no cheese to melt on our burgers, sausages, or grilled veggies? Or a picnic without some delightful little salads spiked with sharp, grated cheese or tossed with fresh milky mozzarella or briny feta? And an absolute prerequisite to a good camping trip is a nice, tasty chunk of good crumbly aged cheese to snack on when your spirit lags a bit on the trail.
Well, we in the Willy Street Co-op cheese department have been thinking about you and your summer cheese desires, and we have many wonderful products for you to select from. Our Bi-weekly Rewards cheeses were specially selected with grilling in mind. Both Sole Queso Quesadilla and Cedar Grove Monterey Jack are excellent melting cheeses, with wonderfully rich, tangy flavor. Suitable for not just delicious tacos and quesadillas, but for burgers and brats, and grilled eggplant as well. Both cheeses are crafted locally: Queso Quesadilla comes from our friends at Roth Kase USA in Monroe, Wisconsin; and Monterey Jack is crafted by Cedar Grove, just west of us in the rolling hills around Plain, Wisconsin. Don’t light your briquettes without having some of these marvelous cheeses handy!
We recently re-acquired the wonderful line of graziered cheeses from Grass Point Farms, and took the opportunity to expand that line as well. Besides the Grass Point Cheddar and Pepper Jack, we now carry their Monterey Jack and Mozzarella. All of these cheeses have wonderful, unforgettable flavors because the milk they use to make them is from only grass-fed cows. Grass-feeding gives the milk a fuller, brighter flavor and presents many added health benefits. It is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as being a good source of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, a known aid in the fight against obesity, heart disease and cancer. And besides that, they are all terrific on the grill! The Cheddar is aged for four years and would make a welcome companion on a long country hike.
Willy West led the way in bringing in the new local Bharatama Paneer, and now Willy East has it too! We are very proud to say our paneer is now locally crafted, and as a side benefit it is also a great deal less expensive. For all of you not familiar with the great South Asian cheese, paneer, it is a light, unsalted fresh-pressed cheese that is particularly suited to holding its shape on a grill or in a pan. It will develop a lovely golden brown crust and remain delectably chewy inside. The peoples of the Indian Sub-continent have been using it for centuries. Paneer is adept at enriching summer salads, as well as being a perfect fried or grilled treat on its own. If you haven’t tried our Bharatama Paneer, it’s about time you did.
Another terrific grilling cheese has returned to our case as well. This is one of our my very favorite cheeses: the magnificent Mediterranean specialty know as Halloumi, a delicious cow and goat milk cheese used prodigiously throughout that sunny region. Imported from Mt. Vikos, this great treat just tastes of summer to us! Here’s a simple recipe for the next time you grab a piece: Slice the cheese into half-inch slices, dust with flour, and either grill or pan-fry in a little butter or olive oil. Halloumi holds it shape well under heat and, just like paneer, develops a marvelous golden brown crust. After your Halloumi has gotten crusty, take it off the heat and spritz it with a wedge of fresh lemon or lime; then tuck it into a lovely piece of warmed or perhaps grilled pita bread. Yum!
Also new to the case are two cheeses from Nordic Creamery in Westby, Wisconsin. We now carry their Capriko, chosen by Wisconsin Cheese Originals as one of the Top 25 Cheeses of Wisconsin. It is a full, nutty cheese made with both goat and cow’s milk; terrific cubed and thrown into a salad, or sliced and put on a burger. We also have Nordic Creamery’s Grumpy Goat Shreds, a godsend for all you folks with a preference for goat milk cheeses, conveniently pre-grated for tossing with pasta or into salads; it has a lovely bright, tart flavor.
We now can proudly say our Crème Fraiche is locally crafted. We’ve brought in Crème Fraiche and cream cheese from Castle Rock out of Osseo, Wisconsin. Is there anything better to serve with fresh summer berries, peaches and nectarines than a bowl of rich, creamy, tart and unctuous Crème Fraiche? Crème Fraiche is a perfect partner for all your fresh summer fruit desserts. If you haven’t tried this combo, there is no better time of year than now!
If none of these wonders of the cheese world fits your summer bill-of-fare, don’t forget we always have great fresh mozzarella from Crave Brothers in two convenient sizes, as well as an enormous variety of stellar local fetas, all of which are perfectly delicious. So, the next time you’re planning a family gathering, be it a cook-out or a picnic; or the next time you’re planning on a beautiful summer hike, don’t forget to take a nice bit of cheese along with you!