Before Savory Sweet Life began I knew very few people, including myself, who were passionate about good artisan food. I still don’t have a clue about what makes certain wines better than others –I’ve always been pretty content with the $2 buck chuck. A good wine to me is one which goes down smooth without me having to wince much. My knowledge of fine wines is still very much unrefined but this doesn’t mean I am closed minded to expanding my knowledge in the area. The same thing goes for gourmet cheeses.
Once in awhile I’ll attend a party where a cheese plate is being served and I never know exactly what I’m eating. But when I’m enjoying a good tasting cheese -I can’t explain how I know, but I just know it makes me happy.
Several months ago Sam’s Club sent me a box of artisan cheeses from around the world to sample. When I received the box, I had no clue what to do with the wide variety of cheeses they sent me. So I do what I always do when I don’t know about gourmet food… I called my sister and invited her to come over.
Once she arrived, she looked at my treasury of cheeses and said, “You realize, this is like winning the lottery, except in fine cheeses, right?” I just gave her a blank stare trying not to look stupid. One by one she picked up each piece and explained the type of cheese it was and what I should do with them. She couldn’t believe the quality of what she was looking at. All she would say repeatedly was, “You are so lucky…. You are so lucky.”
I offered her to take as much as she wanted home which she gladly did. Before she left, I asked if she had ever hosted a cheese party because I thought it would be a great way to learn more about cheese beyond what I normally get from the deli case. She thought a cheese tasting party would be a fun idea to do around the holidays.
If you have never hosted or attended a cheese tasting party, I thought it would be fun to give away this cute Cheese Tasting Party KitI found on Amazon.com. It comes complete with 50 profiling cards helping you determine which wines pair best with them. It also comes with some very cute labels. With the holidays around the corner, I think a cheese and wine tasting party would be quite lovely and festive, don’t you?
For one SSL reader, I’m going to send you The Cheese Tasting Party Kit (cheese is not included). All you need to do is leave a comment telling me your favorite type of cheese. Contest will end Monday night, Nov. 8, 2010 at 9pm PST and open to those with US mailing addresses.
Disclosure: The Cheese Tasting Party Kit I’m giving away is purchased by me. However, the following imported cheeses I received were sent to me to sample and can be purchased at your nearest Sam’s Club. Note: Members are encouraged to call their local Club Manager in advance to see if these new cheese products are available at your local Sam’s Club.
1. Mario Batali Organic Parmigiano Reggiano – Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard Italian cheese made from cow’s milk; its origins date back to the 13th century. This cheese is aged for 22-24 months to three years, and has a compact grainy texture.
2. Mario Batali Mountain Gorgonzola – Blue cheese that comes from Italy’s Lombardy region that is aged longer to make it more robust and firmer with an earthy flavor.
3. Provolone Stravecchio – This cheese has a traditional flavor of Auricchio Stravecchio, which is produced according to an ancient recipe which requires a slow aging period of over a year.
4. Boni Grana Padano – This is a semi-fat hard cow’s cheese which is cooked and ripened slowly for at least 9 months. Grana Padano is a fragrant cheese with a delicate flavor.
5. Asiago Fresco – Asiago Fresco is made from full-fat milk, specifically chosen from the high mountain and valley pastures of the Trentino region.
6. Fromage D’Affinois –This French double-cream cheese is similar to brie in production, appearance and flavor; the difference being that before turning the milk into cheese, the milk undergoes a process called ultra filtration, which removes moisture from the pasteurized milk.
7. Roquefort – Roquefort is one of the most famous blue-veined cheeses. Roquefort is made of sheep’s milk from a defined area and must be aged in particular caves in the south of France.
8. Blue Stilton – Blue Stilton has an extraordinary flavor that is full, rich and creamy, and carefully aged to create its distinctive blue veins.
9. Mario Batali Iberico – This cheese comes from cow, goat, and sheep’s milk; it is firm, tangy, hearty, and has an inedible black rind with an embossed basket-weave pattern.
10. Parrano – Parrano is aged for five months, developing its nutty Parmesan flavor while maintaining the firm, smooth texture of Gouda.
11. Maytag Blue – Maytag Blue cheese is produced by having each wheel made by hand, aging it in caves twice as long as most other blue cheeses.
12. DaVinci Gouda –This full cream cheese is made from pure Dutch cow’s milk and filled with a subtle balance of tomatoes, olives and seasonings. A dash of garlic completes the masterpiece.
13. Greek Isle Barrel Aged Greek Feta –The original Feta was a sheep’s milk cheese made in the Balkans. It is often made from a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk, or goat’s and cow’s milk.
14. Kerrygold Butter – Kerrygold Butter comes from grass-fed cows that in turn produce the sweetest, richest milk in the world.