Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Year Of Fresh Cheese, My Foodie Prediction of 2016

"You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese"
Anthony Bourdain

I'm calling it, that's right I am going out on a limb here and putting all my foodie cred on the line. I have a prediction, it's soft, it's white and it is just a little bit heavenly...yes it is fresh cheese. What is fresh cheese you may ask? Ask away. Fresh cheese is cheese that has not been given time to age and ferment like many of the cheeses we eat so often. When you chomp into that hunk of cheddar, compresses your knife into the firm rind of a Camembert or grate that crumbly Parmesan and sprinkle it onto your pasta you are dealing with a product that was not produced yesterday. It has been aged, sometimes in caves and sometimes for years, often the longer the better and I couldn't say it better than Pauly Shore did in that 90's classic Encino Man "The cheese is old and moldy" quite literally.

So if we all love that ripe funk of a well aged cheese why then am I predicting fresh cheese to be the top of the foodie radar for 2016? Well it may not be as funky as Mark Ronson's Uptown Funk but it will still get your hips gyrating to the beat of the curd.

Fresh cheeses hit my radar in 2015 at my humble local markets here in Bungendore. Artisan Cheese maker Maureen House of "The Cheese Project" was selling a selection of unripened cheeses from a small fridge teetering on a trestle table. The display didn't immediately scream "eat me now" but in overhearing a conversation between Maureen and a customer it was evident that there was a great passion for fresh cheese and as is so often the case, with great passion comes great tastes. We purchased a small lump of halloumi, returned home, cooked it up for lunch and immediately regretted not buying a large lump of halloumi. We cooked it the only way I think really does justice to a great piece of halloumi that is in a fry pan, no oil, cooked till golden brown on both sides and sprinkled with some fresh lemon juice. My first bite of this halloumi I knew it was different to others. The core of the cheese had softened into a divine semi-molten yet still textural mass wrapped in the crisper fried exterior and the taste was so pure. It lacked that rubbery texture that is so common in store bought halloumi and whilst I like the bite of many halloumi's I don't like the overt chewiness some have.

It seemed I was being sent a message from a higher cheese power when I came across Maureen again at a blogging event I attended and she was serving her herbed curds. Prior to this the only thing I knew about curds was that little miss muffet who sat on her tuffet was quite partial too them. I had certainly never eaten them. I curiously scooped up some curds onto a cracker and the slightly tart and gloriously herbed flavour that hit my mouth was a revelation. I was hooked, I just knew that me and fresh cheese were going to be the best of friends.

It all sounds like a lovely story doesn't it, Foodie eats something and enjoys it, just unheard of. I know you are all on the edge of your seats enthralled by my discovery. Well let me finish here. So how can I go out and make such a bold foodie prediction that 2016 will be the year of fresh cheese? That is another story all together and it involves that Italian classic Lasagna.

So I was loving myself silly, eating fresh cheese, bringing it along at Christmas like I was the Christopher Columbus of snack foods and thinking Maureen a slightly crazed genius to leave her secure well paying job as a public servant to head off into the uncharted fields of fresh cheese and then it all went to the next level.

I decided one day I was going to make the mother of all Lasagnas. The pinnacle of layers of pasta, meat and white sauce. I was going to smash it out of the ballpark with a combination of Jamie Oliver's white sauce recipe from Jamie's Italy and a Ragu Di Bologna handed down through generations of Andre Ursini's family and presented by Poh Ling Yeow in the book Same Same But Different. Requiring an excursion to the supermarket we set off around the aisles collecting the required pork, veal, tomatoes, all the usual lasagna suspects. When I came to the cheese fridges I couldn't spot the usual ball of yellowish mozzarella I normally buy. I actually couldn't see any mozzarella except the ready grated variety and if I was going to make the mother of all lasagna's that would just not do. That is when I saw it, something I have never seen and would not expect to see in a stock standard big name supermarket. Fresh, marinated real deal Buffalo Mozzarella. Glancing in through the plastic I could see a pure white ball swimming in a mixture of oil, garlic and spices. I was floored. This was a chain supermarket selling to the masses and certainly not known for artisan products and here I was holding an Australian made fresh buffalo mozzarella and that is when I knew 2016 would be the year of fresh cheese.

In case you want to know how that lasagna turned out I will be publishing a recipe on the blog soon. The buffalo mozzarella in it's soft slightly elastic form went on top of the lasagna in little blobs to become it's crowning glory and I don't think I will ever be able to eat the yellow rubbery supermarket variety ever again.

Originally posted on Sunday, 7 February 2016 by

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