7 Cheeses to Enjoy For an Adult Halloween
Who has time to bob for apples anymore?
by Layla Khoury-HanoldOctober 29th, 2014
Until recently, every Halloween I have had the same dilemma: Should I dress up this year? And do I have anywhere to go once I'm all dressed up? I’ve wised up and resigned myself to the fact that I will never top my Marie Antoinette costume circa 2006. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the costumes, the pageantry, or the sweet treats; it’s just that my tastes have evolved. I don’t have any fancy parties to attend, I don’t have kids to take trick or treating, and I live on the fourth floor of an apartment building, so even if I wanted to entertain the little buggers, I really can’t! Even candy doesn’t hold the same fixation for me; my palate is skewing decidedly more savory these days, as evidenced by my gravitation towards cheese plates for dessert. Instead of lamenting that I have no costume and nowhere to go, I think a more grown up party is in order. These are the cast of characters that I’ll gladly spend the evening with this Hallows’ Eve – and sorry, no trick or treaters allowed.
1. The Drunken Scotsman: Mt. Townsend Creamery – Off Kilter
We can all agree cheese and beer are a pretty obvious pairing. But what happens when you take that concept literally? In Mt. Townsend Creamery’s case, you get Off Kilter, a semi soft-ripened cheese that is washed with Pike Brewing Company’s “Kilt Lifter” Scotch Ale. It flirts with the stinky cheese end of the spectrum, but it’s not so scary that it’s unapproachable. A grainy rind on the outside gives way to a pungent and earthy supple cheese with a sweet, malty finish, resulting in a perfect flavor balance. Serve at room temperature, thinly sliced atop crostini. Or go bold and pair with charcuterie to match the cheese’s nutty, meaty properties.
2. The Superhero: Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – Flagship
There’s a reason this is the flagship cheese of cult Seattle cheese maker Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Not only was the first wheel handcrafted just as Beecher’s opened its doors in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market in 2003, but it continues to rack up awards and win over adoring fans wherever it goes. This semi-hard cow’s milk cheese is aged for 15 months to develop its signature robust, nutty flavor and ever-so-slightly crumbly texture. For an even more complex variation, try the raw milk version. Because it uses unpasteurized cow’s milk, it has a little more dimension and can be a bit more unpredictable. It’s an excellent example of terroir – you can taste what the cows were eating that season and as a result there is a distinctly earthy undertone. If you have leftovers the next morning, it’s awesome folded into softly scrambled eggs or crumbled into a frittata.
3. The Mummy: Bellwether Farms – San Andreas
The cheeses at this artisan creamery in Sonoma County, California prove that excellent wines are not the area’s only export. San Andreas, a raw sheep’s milk Pecorino-style cheese from Bellwether Farms, is a shining example. The milk comes from the farm’s flock of free-roaming East Friesian sheep, whose milk imparts a sweet and tangy flavor, coupled with earthy, herbaceous undertones. It’s not too sharp or salty, but it's precisely the subtlety that makes San Andreas an ideal match for green and black olives.
4. The Disney Princess: Cascadia Creamery – Sleeping Beauty
Never mind the name Sleeping Beauty, even Cascadia Creamery’s environs sound like a fairytale. Located in the foothills of Mt. Adams in the town of Trout Lake, Washington, the area boasts an abundance of rich volcanic soils and temperate weather that provide lush grazing meadows for the creamery’s cows. With such idyllic surroundings and conditions, it’s no wonder that Sleeping Beauty (named after a signature landmark of the Cascade range), a semi-hard natural-rind cheese, has many smooth, buttery layers. But don’t wake her too early – she’s got a supple but pronounced bite. Temper the sharpness with dried figs or apricots.
5. The Smooth Talker: Vermont Creamery – Cremont
This mixed-milk cheese is a melt-in-your-mouth marvel that’s so supremely creamy you’d swear it was a triple cream. It’s a true celebration of Vermont Creamery’s terroir, combining local fresh cow's milk, goat's milk, and a hint of Vermont cream. A special blend of yeast and mold are added to help the milk coagulate overnight and to impart a unique flavor. So what makes this double cream so luscious? The fresh curd is hand-shaped and then aged for two weeks, resulting in a cream-colored rind and a luxurious, smooth interior. Pair with a plank of crusty bread and a smear of fig jam.
6. The Frankenstein: Long Clawson Dairy – Blue Shropshire
Okay, so I’m still a sucker for all things orange at Halloween, but in my book, it’s not a cheese party without a blue. Plus, the party is infinitely more interesting anytime you have an international guest. This full-bodied, golden russet-colored beauty, with its signature veins, hails from the United Kingdom’s award-winning Long Clawson Dairy. It’s a full fat (48%), full-bodied, semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, with a smooth texture and tangy flavor, which makes it a perfect match for a crisp Riesling. If you want to keep with tradition, wash it down with good brown English ale.
7. The Aging Pop Star: Challerhocker
The first time I tried Challerhocker it was love at first bite. It's got everything I love in a cheese: a firm yet creamy texture, supreme melting capabilities, and plenty of nuttiness. Translating to ''sitting in the cellar,” Challerhocker is washed in wine and spices and then aged for 10 to 12 months, resulting in a nuanced and complex Swiss cheese. But this aged starlet is anything but washed up. With its distinct butterscotch notes it’s the perfect cheese to end the night on. The other reason I just can’t get enough? It's got something called tyrosine – often mistakenly called salt crystals – which lend an irresistible crystalline crunch that comes from the formation of amino acids, typical of long-aging cheeses. Try not to devour it all and save some for a bewitching midnight grilled cheese sandwich.