Fig & Olive Cheese Plate

Posted by Maddie on September 23, 2014 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (488)

I thoroughy enjoyed the selection of crostini appetizers and the foccacia with a tasting of three olive oils, the cheese plate wasn't as satisfying. Why? The small portion. While the cheese plate selection consisted of five cheeses that created a well-rounded combination (Fromage De Chevre (Goat), Robiola (Cow), Manchego (Sheep), Gorgonzola Dolce (Cow), and Rochetta (Cow, Sheep, Goat), the size was surprisingly small--I felt like I was almost eating the scraps Zabar's cheese counter hands out at the end of the workday...


In the center of the plate was rosemary, a giant fig, fig jam, and marcona almonds. I especially enjoyed the fig and the fig jam the most, considering that the portion of the cheese was extremely unsatisfying. I have to say I have tasted many cheese plates all over Manhattan, but this was the smallest cheese plate to date. And it's not like the cheeses were that special.. You can get your fill of Manchego, Fromage de Chevre, and Gorgonzola Dolce at Fairway, Zabars, or Citarella (for those New Yorkers out there).


If you ever make it out to Fig & Olive, fingers crossed you get larger portions than me!!



Sorry, I'm a Cheese Stickler... (An Entry in the form of Prose)

Posted by Maddie on August 18, 2014 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (56)

Being at college has greatly reduced my exposure to cheese. Back home in Manhattan, I lived across the street from a gourmet cheese shop. After high school each day -- it literally was every day --I visited the cheese shop in search for a cheese I haven't tried (which was rare) or chose one of my old favorites that I was craving in class earlier that day. Whatever the cheese, I've always bought in small quantity, asking for roughly .225 to .25 pounds. I have a weird habit which drives my parents crazy. I like to finish cheese I buy the day of. This is why I ask for the minumum weight the cheese monger will cut for me. The cheese just tastes fresher! My refrigerator is not calibrated to optimize cheese freshness because it's busy keeping leftover meat fresh for tomorrow's dinner, which unfortunately makescheese firmer than it's supposed to be. If I really can't finish the entire wedge, then I have no choice to put it in the refrigerator. But, tomorrow then becomes a waiting game: I need the cheese to sit out at room temperature for roughly 30 minutes (longer for harder cheeses) so I can get the exact consistency I want. But, its always worth the wait. 

Parc Brasserie (Rittenhouse Square)

Posted by Maddie on April 1, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (45)

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of eating at Parc Brasserie in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square. It was a great atmosphere and I ate my carbs for the month in this one sitting. No surprise, when I saw the French artisan cheese on the menu, I knew a cheese plate would be my entree. After we ordered, we were graced with a full basket of bread just for our table. Because eating bread with cheese mutes the cheeses' flavor, I had multiple slices before sampling cheese. 

Tonight's cheese plate, served with apples, marcona almonds, apple butter, and hazelnut honey, consisted of Idiazebel (raw Sheep milk from Spain), Beemster (pasteurized cow milk from Netherlands), Pont L'eveque (pasteurized cow milk from Normandie), Moses Sleeper (pasteurized cow milk from Vermont), and Marzolino (pasteurized sheep milk from Tuscany). Overall, while I enjoyed them all, no one cheese stuck out to me. If I could sum up the entire cheese plate in two words it would be mild and creamy. My notes below literally contain mild for almost every cheese.

Here are more of my thoughts on Parc's cheese plate. They were all so mild, I didn't feel that there were that many adjectives I could use to describe them. While I enjoyed them all, I wish there was more variety. The cheeses were either the texture of brie or semi-soft cheeses. I would suggest adding a blue cheese or sharper cheeses for a more balanced plate.

The hazelnut honey was tasty however it did not complement any one cheese. I used the honey on the mildest of the cheeses, the Moses Sleeper, just to give it a flavor kick. The apple butter unfortunately did not complement any of the cheeses.

Idiazebel (+1): mild yet herby

Marzolino (+2): farmy and mild, rind not edible

Beemster (+1): Caramel, sweet, toothsome, tastes like smoked gouda

Moses Sleeper (+2): mild, creamy, tastes like a mild Brie, edible and tasty rind

Pont L'Eveque (+2): creamy, nutty, semi-edible rind

Thanks to Parc Brasserie for a great dinner! While this post sounds harsher than it should be, I would like to emphasize that the cheeses were all very good, I would order all of them again, however maybe separately; I honestly felt like I only ate 2 cheeses rather than 5 because of how mild and similar the cheeses were.


Osteria Morini - Soho, NYC

Posted by Maddie on August 15, 2013 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (52)

After having a mini cheese fast (In Hawaii, I choose sashimi over cheese :-0 !!), I have resumed my cheese habit. With my family, we ventured to Manhattan's Soho to restaurant Osteria Morini (Chef Michael White : ). As any cheeselover would do, I ordered a cheese plate as my entree dish.

From left to right:

Nuvola di Pecora: Sheep's Milk, Semi-Soft (tastes like firm cream cheese, really! rind complements buttery taste, toothsome, tangy, not pungent, very mild. rating: +1 (from -2 to 2)

Toma Walser: Cow's Milk, Semi-Soft (acidic, bitter, rind is bitter --as you can tell by the adjectives, I didn't particulary like this cheese despite its smooth texture. rating (-2)

Robiola Bosina: Cow/Sheep milk, Soft (one of my all-time favorites! If you like cheese at all, you will love this. Buttery and creamy as robiola should be, for anyone who likes Brie, this is better. toothsome, nutty rind. rating (+2)

If you're in the area, I definitely recommend you to check out the restaurant!


Terzo Piano Was Too Hard of an Act to Follow for Cafe Spiaggia (Chicago)

Posted by Maddie on January 20, 2013 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (49)

On New Years Eve, my family had dinner at Cafe Spiaggia. I heard that Cafe Spiaggia had a phenomenal cheese selection, which is ultimately why we decided to come here for dinner, but I was not impressed at all. Maybe because it was NYE, and there was a set cheese plate? However, the selected cheeses were all mild, boring, and the three cheeses tasted the same: bland. You would think that on an important holiday, Cafe Spiaggia would bring out their selection's finest. I found myself enjoying the honey accompaniments more than the cheese itself--maybe it was because the honey completely masked the litte flavor the cheeses had to offer. The berry jam also tasted sour. I never complain about prices either, but considering how  small the wedges I received was, I needed to comment.

Maybe I have become jaded after visiting Terzo Piano, but I couldn't even finish Cafe Spiaggia's cheese plate, and that NEVER happens (even considering how small the wedges were.)

My notes on the three cheeses I sampled and their ratings are below:

As a reminder, -2 = absolutely revolting, +2 = amazing, will definitely have again, NEED to have it again:

The La Tur (Goat): fluffy. think whipped cream cheese without the flavor--was literally eating whipped milk -1

The Pecorino (Cow): While earthy, it was mild and tastes like your deli Provolone -1

The Morbier Blue: -1 tastes better with honey, While I generally enjoy Morbier, the -1 is for the poor pairing with the soured berry jam.

What a shame, Cafe Spiaggia is also said to be Michelle Obama's favorite Chicago restaurant.

Let me know if you have been to Cafe Spiaggia/Spiaggia before and have tried the cheese and loved it! Maybe I was just unlucky, but please let me know!


Cheese & Art: Terzo Piano at the Art Institute of Chicago

Posted by Maddie on January 4, 2013 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (469)

Over winter break, my family and I went to Chicago. It was our first time being in the Midwest (asides from stopping at the Chicago O'Hare airport on our usual trips West) and we had a great time. We had great food--great cheese and deep dish pizza-- and we decided that we want to go back soon--just during a warmer season. I now understand why Chicago is nicknamed the Windy City.

(Image above: Left to Right, Up to Down: 1) Terzo Piano Seasonal Cheese Menu: Evalon (raw goat's milk), Cottonwood River Cheddar (raw cow's milk), Rush Creek Reserve (raw cow's milk), Yulekase (raw cow and sheep's milk), Nancy's Camambert (pasteurized sheep and cow's milk), Bid Ed's (raw cow's milk), Tilston Point (raw cow's milk), Vermillion River Blue (raw cow's milk)  2) Terzo Piano's cheese cave 3) My Terzo Piano cheese plate)

When we were inside restaurants, protected from the violent wind outside, we could enjoy what Chicago had to offer. On our second day, we went to The Art Institute of Chicago to see some of Monet's finest. No longer hungry for art, but now for food, we looked at the different dining availabilities at the museum and came across Terzo Piano. I was so excited to see that not only did they just have cheese, they had my absolute favorite cheese of all time: Rush Creek Reserve (raw cow's milk)! Usually I like to sample as many cheeses as I can on a cheese plate, but because RCR seems relatively harder to find, I asked for a double order of Rush Creek and Yulekase (raw cow and sheep's milk) as my three cheeses. I hope you take away from this blog post either 1) to visit Terzo Piano or 2) try Rush Creek Reserve!

Comment below if you have any other cheese places to visit in Chi-town. Can't wait to visit again!


(Left to Right, Up to Down 1) Terzo Piano Menu, 2) My sister and I admiring art, 3) The Art Institute of Chicago Back Entrance)

T-Giving Break: Lancmarc Restaurant (Time Warner Center, NYC)

Posted by Maddie on December 3, 2012 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (68)

Whenever I come back to Manhattan for break, I'm upset to leave the comfort of my new home--my college campus, but happy to come back to family and good food. My third night back, the first night being the night of the Debutante Ball, I convinced my parents to go to Landmarc, which is in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. After a ton of Black Friday shopping, we had an early and much needed dinner at Landmarc, where I ordered my go-to entree: a cheese plate. Here are the 5 cheeses on the plate. Once again I used the Artisanal Cheese Company's Rating system I learned from Maitre Fromager Max McCalman: -2 (Dislike), -1, 0 (ambivalent) 1, +2 (Love)

From Left to Right: 

La Tur (Cow, Goat, and Sheep's Milk, Italy): +2: Really creamy, herby, tangy

Castelrosso (Cow's milk, Italy) Sheep; 0; mild like manchego

Humboldt Fog (Goat's Milk, United States): 1; powdery, airy, mild, toothsome

Shropshire (Cow's milk, Great Britain): -2; farmy really hard to eat; strong aftertaste, mild flavor

Forme d'Ambert (Cow's Milk, France): +2; smoky, creamy, toothsome

T-Giving Break: Waldorf Astoria Hotel for Deb Ball

Posted by Maddie on November 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (91)

Over Thanksgiving Break, I was invited to a Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria. So happy they had goat cheese as an appetizer! And it was a huge chunk too. 

Quick Snack: Melted Fontina and French Raclette

Posted by Maddie on July 6, 2012 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (72)

I like eating cheese the day I buy it. When I leave cheese in the refrigerator over night, the flavor is muted. However, there is a quick trick to collecting that flavor again--by melting it! I use the leftover cheeses, cube them and place them evenly on crackers; my favorite type of crackers are the stoned wheat type which adds nutty flavor. After I microwave the cheeses on the crackers for 40 seconds, I drizzle lavender honey in a zig zag pattern on the crackers. Enjoy!!

Benoit (Midtown NYC): Three Courses of Cheese

Posted by Maddie on June 22, 2012 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (70)

For my graduation dinner, my family and I made a reservation for Benoit, which is located on West 55th St in Midtown NYC. In addition to the complimentary bread basket, waiters left us plates of bite-sized cheese puffs, which I downed like M&M's (picture 2). For my appetizer, I ordered the twice baked upside-down Comté cheese soufflé (picture 3). For my entree, I chose Benoit's three cheese plate (picture 4). From right to left, cheese 1 was a French Camembert, the middle wasAbbaye de Bel'loc, and the leftmost cheese was Bleu d'Auvergne. Bleud'Auvergne was probably one of the more strong blue cheeses I've tried.It's texture was semi-crumbly. I ws disappointed by the FrenchCamembert because I prefer the domestic Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembertbetter. The Abbaye de Bel'loc cheese was memorable, tasting verysimilar to a very mild Petit Billy. Overall, here is my rating: FrenchCambert (-1), Garrotxa (+1) and Bleu d'Auvergne (+1).



My Dates at Prom

Posted by Maddie on June 15, 2012 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (1)

Prom usually consists of three parts: pre-prom, prom, and post-prom. Pre-prom involves parents taking photos of their children with their children's dates, exchanges of corsages and bouttenaires, and hors d'oeuvres on silver trays making its rounds for takers. After the corsage-bouttenaire exchange with my date (it is impossible to pin on the bouttenaire without the flower falling lop-sided or the pin sticking dangerously out enough to stab someone) and an entire Facebook album full of traditional prom photos, I scouted the room for my favorite bite-sized snacks. In one corner of a large reception room, hidden behind crowds of teenagers taking photos of every combination, I found my go-to absolute favorite snack: cheese. I kept company with the cheeses, which were lonesomely forgotten in the corner. I was impressed by the selection of 6 cheeses from Murray's Cheese; in fact, I wasn't familiar with two of them! I would've expected the usual Brie, aged Cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

From the left bottom corner and clockwise, the cheeses are Brunet (Pasteurized Goat), Westfield Capri (Pasteurized Goat), Casatica (Pasteurized Buffalo), Blu del Moncenisio (Pasteurized Cow), Fiore Sardo (Raw Sheep), and Castelrosso (Pasteurized Cow). In this cheese plate, I particularly enjoyed Brunet, Fiore Sardo, and the Blu del Moncenisio.

All in all, I was fueled up on cheese and ready for the next two parts of prom!

Who Did It Better?

Posted by Maddie on April 12, 2012 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (1)

When dining out, whether you're the type who gravitates to one favorite dish or the kind who listens acutely to the daily specials, there is always that one ingredient that grabs your attention while skimming your menu. By now you know that if there's cheese in it, I probably ordered it. Confession: I'm an entree repeater. Take a look at my entree duplicates, and be the judge:

Who Did It Better?

Top: Dos Caminos: Queso Fundido (Mexican 3-Cheese fondue served with Mexican Chorizo)

Middle: Rosa Mexicana: Queso Fundido (Melted Chihuahua cheese served in a cast iron skillet with Chorizo and peppers)



Bottom: Via Quodrono: Crostini di Polenta (Gorgonzola cheese melted over cornmeal medallions)...An Italian twist, and with polenta.

Now, for salads, with goat cheese!

Top: Epcot's Les Chefs de France: Salade de Chevre chaud (Baked goat cheese,walnuts, fresh grapes, tomatoes, endive, salad)

Middle: Maui's The Pineapple Grill (Located in Kapalua Resort): Kula Baby Spinach Salad( Macadamian nut crusted goat cheess, Kapalua Farms cherry tomatoes, chilledasparagus spears, shaved red onions, toasted macadamia nuts,sherry-shallot vinaigrette)

Bottom: Serafina: Goat Cheese E Spinach (Baby spinach, warm goat cheese, pine nut, pine nut oil & honey vinaigrett)