I’m often asked “what’s your favorite cheese?” The answer is almost invariably the one that is giving me the most challenge. We’ve spent the last several months working to get the kinks out of the Little Napoleon and now that those efforts are starting to be rewarded, I can say without question that it is my favorite cheese. While we were struggling with this cheese, I was struck by the idea that near the town of Napoleon is the town of Waterloo, and for a fleeting moment I was ready to ship the Napoleon there. But with the sage advice of Randolph Hodgson from Neal’s Yard Dairy, we were able to avoid Waterloo and Elba.
The challenge is that this cheese is surrounded by geotrychum mold, which unlike the fluffy white penicillium candidum mold is very finnicky and a challenge to get to grow properly. It is also not a particularly aggressive mold and often gives way to wild molds which rapidly surround the cheeses with a variety of colors and sometimes unwanted flavors.
Why bother trying to grow geotrychum instead of penicillium? Put simply, I love the flavor. Also, geotrychum is a lipolytic mold strain as opposed to penicillium candidum which is proteolytic. Penicillium candidum breaks down proteins which causes the cheese to go soft and creamy. Geotrychum breaks down fats generating more flavor.
I like to eat the Napoleon by heating it in a warm oven with walnuts, figs and a glass of Sancerre.
We’re gearing up for the holidays and for November, the shop will be featuring fresh mozzarella rolled around Prosciutto di Parma, Sharon Hollows (both garlic and telicherry black pepper along with garlic and fresh chopped chives) and one of our most popular holiday items, tortes made with layers of goat cheese, pesto and roasted red pepper.
For those of you looking for something new for Thanksgiving try Mozzarella and Myrtle. This is a braid of Fresh mozzarella surrounded by branches of myrtle leaves. When baked the flavor of the myrtle (which is related to bay leaves) is infused in the mozzarella. You then cut the strings, pull off the myrtle leaves, pour on some olive oil and scoop up the runny cheese with chunks of Paesano bread. P.S. don’t use the good tablecloth.
Finally, we bid farewell to summer (okay we were hanging on a little too long) and bring back some of my favorite gelato flavors. Cinnamon, Pumpkin, Hazelnut, Gianduja, and Dulce de Leche. Dulce de Leche is actually a year round flavor, but I mention it because like the cinnamon and pumpkin it is great with Thanksgiving pie.