Category Archives: Cheese

Two for Tuesday: Irish Cheddar

Even though St. Patty’s Day was yesterday, I’m still celebrating all things Irish.  How about Irish cheddar?  So I’m doing a side-by-side of Kerrygold Dubliner vs. Murray’s Irish cheddar.  (No, I’m not being cute.  I couldn’t get this photo to straighten in WordPress.  Something must not be working.)

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Both cheeses are from Ireland.  Dubliner (l) is more complex and nutty.  Murray’s (r) was softer, not quite as strong a flavor.

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Two for Tuesday: Brooklyn Pizza

I finally made it out to Brooklyn to try Totonno’s in Coney Island and L&B Spumoni Gardens’ pizza in Bensonhurst.  Pizza is a controversial topic, I realize.  My grandmother talked about wood-fired pizza from Naples.  My mother grew up on coal-fired pizza.  As my family worked in the pizza business and owned a pizzeria, I’m pretty critical of pizza.  Among aficionados, Totonno’s has a history and is known as some of the best pizza.

Totonno's
On our visit, we didn’t have to wait on line.  There was one table available.  There are no frills here.  You sit; they bring you paper plates and plastic cups.  You have your choice of canned or bottled soda and water.  Service is rushed and not friendly.  Because of the demand and lack of space, you may have to share a table with other patrons, as we did.  We ordered the large plain cheese pie, which is a steep price at $19.50.

Totonno's pizza
The three elements of pizza are crust, sauce and cheese.  With a coal-fired oven, one would expect the blackened bottom and a certain flavor.  Sally’s Apizza in New Haven has the perfect coal-fired crust.  Totonno’s crust didn’t have that blackened bottom, and the dough was lackluster.  The tomato sauce was bland–just a tomato taste.  The cheese was also pretty flavorless.  I had really wanted to love this place because of its history, but I felt it was lacking in taste.  I really don’t think it’s worth a trip out to Coney Island just for this pizza.

L&B
L&B Spumoni Gardens is a subway stop and short walk away from Totonno’s.  Here, the specialty of the house are Sicilian-style pies.  For those who don’t know, Sicilian style pies are square pies that are more doughy.  My mom says that when she was young, Sicilian pies came with tomato and onion, but that is not how they are served today.  The pie at L&B is good, but where’s the cheese?  I understand the sauce is on top of the cheese, but I don’t think there’s enough cheese.  It’s unfortunate because the sauce is very good, slightly sweet and with oregano.  With more cheese, this would be one hell of a Sicilian pie.

L&B Spumoni Gardens pizza

Two for Tuesday: Cheesecake Variations

Cheesecake is a classic New York dessert, and it’s also ubiquitous.  Every restaurant has its version, and some are better than others.  While I’m not a big fan of cheesecake, I have enjoyed a piece of Junior’s.  Then, I found something on Junior’s menu that caught my eye:  strawberry shortcake cheesecake.  Yes, the best of both worlds.  Strawberry cheesecake sandwiched between strawberry shortcake.  It is as good as it sounds.  And the best part:  delivered to your door.

Junior's strawberry shortcake cheesecake

Another interesting cheesecake I found was at Spot Dessert Bar on 32nd Street in Koreatown.  On the third floor of the Food Gallery, there’s a Spot Dessert Bar location with ice cream, cupcakes, macaroons and fancy dessert plates.  I ordered the smoked coconut cheesecake, coconut cheesecake smoked with Thai aromatic candle and coconut ice cream with basil seeds.  It comes with peaches, blueberries and jellies.  I’m not sure what is meant by Thai aromatic candle, but this was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time.  The foam on top had a citrus flavor.  The clear jellies had a hard texture, but I wasn’t able to discern the flavor.  All the accompaniments went well with the cheesecake, but the cheesecake can stand alone.

coconut cheesecake

Weekend Whets 4/5

Community Cookbook Extravaganza, Saturday, April 6, 2013, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn:  Bring a recipe or food story to include in the community cookbook.

Smorgasburg, Saturdays starting April 6, 2013, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at East River State Park—Kent Ave. and N. 7 St.—on the Williamsburg waterfront; and Sundays on the DUMBO waterfront at the historic Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn:  Event with local food vendors.

Cheese and Wine Pairing Class, Sunday, April 7, 2013, 6 p.m., Cheese and Wine Hoboken, Hoboken, NJ:  Class on how to pair wine and cheese.  $60.

A Taste of Fifth Avenue, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Grand Prospect Hall, Brooklyn:  Food tasting of Fifth Avenue’s best restaurants.  Music, dancing and complimentary wine and beer.  Tickets are $45 and $25 of that goes to a local charity of your choice.

Peruvian Sushi Night, Saturday, April 13, 2013, 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., Somethin’ Jazz Club, 212 East 52nd Street, Manhattan:  Gabriel Alegria and the Afro Peruvian Sextet playing.  Peruvian sushi must be ordered in advance.

Eat Like a Chef!  Danny Meyer and Michael Romano with Adam Gopnik, Monday, April 15, 2013, 8:15 p.m., 92nd St Y, Manhattan:  Restaurateur and chef discuss culinary secrets to making staff meals at Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and more.  Tickets are $29.

Tasting Brooklyn, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., The Green Building, Brooklyn:  Event that celebrates the borough with tastings from area vendors and restaurants like Robicelli’s.  VIP tickets, $75; general admission, $50.

2nd Annual Taiwanese Night Market, Friday, April 19, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., The Villian, Brooklyn:  A night market of Asian and Taiwanese food vendors.  Tickets $40.

NYC Hot Sauce Expo, Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, 2013, 10 a.m., Food Karma Projects Presents Events on Kent, 110 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn:  Live music, fire breathers, spicy food vendors, awards show, eating challenges and contests, adult beverages and the best hot sauce companies from North America.

Earth Day Dinner at Del Posto, Monday, April 22, 2013, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Del Posto, 85 10th Avenue, Manhattan:  A five-course vegetarian dinner in honor of Mother Earth with Annie Novak, Urban Garden Goddess, and Amy Thompson of Lucy’s Whey.

Baking for Spring!  Make Homemade Pies & Delicious Cocktails, Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., GE Monogram Design Center, 150 East 58th Street, Manhattan:  Hands-on pie making event making mini blueberry, raspberry and blackberry pies to take home. $40.

The Joy of Cheese and Gastronomie 491 Present The Gastronomie 9, Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 7 p.m., Gastronomie 491, 491 Columbus Avenue (between 83rd and 84th), Upper West Side, Manhattan:  A discussion and tasting of nine cheeses.

LuckyRice New York, Monday, April 29, 2013 through Sunday, May 5, 2013, Manhattan:  A celebration of Asian cuisine.  Each night showcases a different type of Asian food.  Opening night is a dumpling party.

Third Coast ShortDocs Challenge in partnership with the James Beard Foundation, deadline April 30, 2013:  Create a story inspired by the idea of “appetite” that’s two to three minutes in length, presented in three “courses” and includes one of the five tastes in the title: bitter, salty, sour, sweet or umami.

Lenten Lunch: Beecher’s Eggs and Cheese Sandwich

I got a really delicious eggs and cheese sandwich at Beecher’s in Flatiron.  This is also a great breakfast/lunch for Lent!  It’s on really good toasty bread.  It’s more cheesy than eggy, which I would expect from a cheese shop! 

Beecher's eggs and cheese

Two for Tuesday: Appetizers

The Palm Restaurant‘s flagship and Xai Xai South African Winebar in New York City are two spots for killer apps.  Eggplant rolled and stuffed with creamy good goat cheese at Xai Xai:

I don’t know what kind of goat cheese this is, but it’s out of this world. I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, but the cheese made this dish. It’s smooth and creamy and blends so well with the accompanying sauce.

Jumbo lump crab cake with chipotle tartar sauce from the Palm:

This is a perfect crab cake, full of crab meat, not breading. The delish chipotle tartar sauce adds a hint of smoke.

Murray’s Cheese Caves

I toured Murray’s Cheese caves.  Who knew there was an underground cave on Bleecker Street where mold grows on aging cheeses in a painstaking, meticulous process.  If you go through the swinging doors to the back room of the cheese shop, you see an area you would expect to see where cheeses are cut and wrapped.  However, once you put on your blue booties, hair net and jacket to keep sterile and walk through another set of swinging doors, you arrive into a cold, temperature-controlled room.  There are four doors reminiscent of Medieval times.

door

Behind each door is a small room with a different set of conditions to ripen each type of cheese inside.  Some cheeses take only weeks to ripen; others, months or years.  Some cheeses require a drier atmosphere and some require a more humid atmosphere.  Some ceilings need to be vaulted for air circulation and some not.  Some cheeses need to be washed or brushed.  Bacteria is added to some cheese, sometimes being sprayed on.  Each cheese is individually cared for to create its unique taste.

cheese cave

Here, you can see the younger, fresher cheese on the bottom shelf. This is something you would find at Whole Foods, for example, because they don’t have the special caves to age the cheeses. The cheeses that appear whiter are the aged cheeses, and the white is the mold that has grown.

cheese aging

On some of the cheeses, the mold looks like short, light hairs.  Or like ripples.


Some of the rooms smell like ammonia to varying degrees. In one particularly ammonia-smelling room, there was a French cheese with a particular mold that only comes from that area. On a shelf opposite that cheese is a cheese from Italy that the French mold spores attached to. This mold sharing affects the taste of the other cheeses to create something with a different flavor.


My favorite cheeses are the mountain cheeses, like Gruyere, which require low moisture and can take months or years to age.

Gruyere

The rinds are smooth when the cheese is young, and it is brushed, which dries it out, forming this rind.

The oldest cheese at Murray’s is a 5-year-old Gouda.