Did you know that June was National Dairy Month? A whole month dedicated to delicious dairy products, not that we need a reason to eat cheese. The declaration came at the end of the Great Depression as the dairy industry was on the brink of collapse. National Milk Month was declared to promote the sale of milk in the summer months and to avoid overproduction and a scant two years later, it was changed to Dairy Month. In celebration, we have three delicious cheeses sure to make any festivity worthy! Beecher’s Marco Polo, Boxcarr Campo, and Fromager D’Affinois Truffles.
Beecher’s Marco Polo
There are over 30 different ways to say delicious and they all pale when attempting to describe this cheese. Marco Polo is a cloth-bound and open-air aged cheddar, but what really makes the taste buds sing is the addition of milled green and black peppercorns. This cheese is rich, creamy, and herbaceous. I recommend topping your favorite pasta with shavings of this cheese to add a unique and delicious layer to the dish.
Boxcarr prides themselves on crafting the perfect handmade cheeses and campo is no exception. Billed as “Smoke kissed and washed,” this tasty cheese has notes of white peppers and brown butter. One of the most remarkable aspects of this cheese is the hint of cured meat. One bite of this cheese and you are transported to the side of a campfire. This is one cheese where you don’t want to skip the rind! It adds an extra layer of yummy!
Fromager D’Affinois Truffles
If you are looking for an earthy cheese that practically melts in your mouth, Fromager D’Affinois Truffles is for you! This luscious brie-like cheese has been infused with Black Truffles from the Périgord in France. The truffles give this cheese a bold and vibrant flavor making this cheese feel like a guilty pleasure. My Nana used to say, “Anything worth eating was worth eating with a friend,” but I won’t tell if you keep this delicious treasure all to yourself!
To bind in cloth, or not to bind in cloth, that is the question.
The primary reason for bandaging cheese in cloth is to prevent both a loss of moisture and reduce the growth of mold on cheeses fromagers intend to age. Typically, cheeses that are cloth-bound are larger yields, up to 90 pounds, and cheeses that are desired to be firmer. According to the Oxford Companion to Cheese, the process of cloth-binding sounds as delicious as the cheeses they produce. First, the cheese is wrapped in cheesecloth and covered with lard, butter, vegetable oil, or a mixture of flour and water to seal the rind. This process is called greasing and British cloth-bound cheeses are greased one time while other cheesemakers may repeat the process. The resulting effect is a firm cheese with complex flavors and, often, a beautifully imprinted rind.
Recipe Corner: Campo e Pepe
Cacio e pepe literally cheese and pepper, is a classic Roman pasta dish and current American trend. This iteration swaps the standard Cacio Pecorino Romano for some smoky Campo which will leave you delightfully satisfied and it pairs incredibly with the fuirty yet earthy Sculpterra Merlot, or a refreshing, peppery and slight saline Chilean Sauvignon Blanc like Amayna or Errazuriz Max.
8 ounces spaghetti
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 ounces Campo, cubed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
Set a big pot of water over high heat. When it reaches a boil, add a couple of spoonfuls of salt, until the water tastes like the sea. Cook the pasta until almost al dente, about 5 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy water before draining the pasta and setting aside.
Melt the butter in a big skillet. Add the black pepper and let it toast, for just a moment, until fragrant. Add the pasta, half of the pasta water, and cheese. Toss like no one's watching. Add the reserved water as needed, splash by splash, until a creamy sauce begins to coat the pasta. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with more black pepper, and serve immediately.