Welcome, officially, to Patrick, our resident Cheesemonger, who has agreed to stay on and keep writing about cheese. Patrick is also a cheesemonger at Murray's Cheese (Grand Central Market location) in New York. He began at Murray's while attending the Institute of Culinary Education.
In an effort to report on local cheeses in other parts of the country, Patrick would like to know what your favorite area cheese shops are, both in and out of New York. And if you're in the Grand Central area, Patrick encourages you to stop by Murray's and say hello.
Name: Amarelo de Beira Baixa
Producer: Various (Portugal)
Milk: Raw Sheep and Goat
Age: 30-60 days
In a search to expand my cheese horizons, I've decided to check out some new cheese counters in the city and see what they have to offer. This week, I stayed within my borough and headed to Stinky Bklyn, a small storefront in Cobble Hill (look for a store review tomorrow).
Perusing the selection, my taste buds went to the heart of Portugal. Most Portuguese cheeses are famous for a distinctly sour, earthy taste due to their use of thistle rennet. The Amarelo is no different. It's soft, rich borderline cloying interior is filled with this signature flavor that a fellow cheesemonger once noted was the kind of cheese that makes you imagine nights of abundant drinking and hot summer parties.
Fitting for its region, the Amarelo would pair perfectly with a variety of meatier seafood dishes such as grilled shrimp or lobster bisque. If you're looking for something lighter, go for fruits that match its flavors, like grapes, cherries or plums.
For this week's wine pairing, I turned to The Kitchen's resident wine expert, Jenny. She recommends Italian Amarone, which she describes as having "a rich, distinctive raisin taste, along with some bitterness that is rounded by the sweetness of the concentrated sugar".
Amarelo de Beira Baixa is available for $4.25 per 1/4lb at Stinky Bklyn (where it is sold under the name "Por Amarello de Baixa"), $24.25/lb at Artisanal, $25.99/lb at Murray's Cheese and $9.99 per 8 oz. chunk at iGourmet.