Face it, Valentine’s Day is a pretty cheesy holiday.
Ever since you first glued a doily to a red paper heart and topped it off with glitter, you were hooked into a lifetime of sentimentality. Sentiments like “My Doll” on a conversation heart — that’s edible Fredericks of Hollywood right there.
So instead of the bizarrely scripted sugar bombs with flavors not found in nature, most grown-ups go the expensive chocolate route. But since we’re talking cheesy anyway, why not go for the real thing? Le vrai fromage! I spoke to three local cheese experts for their take on Valentine cheese.
Jona Huffer, cheesemaster at Murray’s Cheese Shop in the brand-new Newport Pavilion Kroger (859-292- 5640), lives a cheese-lover’s dream. She’s surrounded by fromage from the everyday to the exotic and all points in between. Her Valentine advice is to go with something “sexy and cool” like a Boucheron. Slice it on a pretty plate with a drizzle of Basswood honey, some caramelized walnut and dried fruit.
“When you slide the cheese through the honey on the plate, it’s delectable,” she said. Slap me for saying this, but that does sound kind of sexy to me.
“I’d definitely suggest the Fromage a Trois” was the wicked and slightly twisted advice from Kathleen Koller at Whole Foods in Mason (513-398-9358). The suggestive name refers to the goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto that make up the layers of this torta, a locally-produced treat from Capriole Farms in Greenville, Ind. If your Valentine likes a little kink in their romance, anything with an “a trois” might be a good opener.
Koller, like most other cheese lovers, is on a goat bender right now, but she knows that some find goat cheese, well, baaaaa-d. If goat’s not your true love’s taste, then go for the gusto of Robusto, a two-year aged gouda from Holland that’s simple, affordable and approachable. “it’s a firm cheese,” she explains. “and you can just pare it thin and serve it with crackers — easy.”
Though I’m not sure that “blue” is the message you want to send your Valentine, Hoffer suggested an easy, inexpensive Iowa Maytag for its taste and versatility as her second choice. Blue cheeses are more approachable than they used to be (ask any bacon and blue burger buff) and there’s really nothing more savory. But when i visited her shop, the Spanish Tetilla looked like a possibility. Hoffer described it as looking like a white chocolate Hershey’s kiss, but even my elementary knowledge of Spanish tells me the cheese-maker had something more anatomical in mind.
Chrissy Biggs from Krause’s at Findlay Market (513- 421-0024) had a best seller for Valentine’s Day last year: heart-shaped goat cheese, also from Capriole. “That flew out of here! I’m going to try to get some more in,” she said.
If she doesn’t, she still has two good recommendations. First, for the fruity, try White Stilton with Cherries ($15.99). “It’s not cheesy, really,” she said. “The cheese is just the carrier for the good stuff. And it’s sweet.”
Her second suggestion was right up my alley: Parrano, like a gouda but sweeter and nuttier.
“It goes great with wine,” she said, “and just melts in your mouth.”
Cupid, are you listening?
CONTACT ANNE MITCHELL: [email protected]