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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tastemakers 101: Sartori Cheeses

If you're anything like me, your trip to the cheese display at your gourmet supermarket of choice can be sort of like staring into an inky sky trying to pinpoint a single star.  There are many cheese brands, not to mention cheese types, out there today and trying to single out one flavor or single out another food  that meshes with that flavor can be a bit foreboding.  But then you think about the complexities of the foods we pair them with, let alone the wines, and a thought occurs.  Why should the flavors of  cheese be exempt from the complexities that makes good food great?  After all, a great soup filled with lots of comforting goodies or a wine with numerous notes is celebrated for great taste and captivating flavor in the same manner as a perfectly ripe piece of fruit or a perfectly cooked filet of fish is lauded for its simplicity.  It's just that sometimes it helps to get a Cliff Note of sorts as to what the flavors might mean to the palette and what the culinary experience might be.

Well for that reason, there's this post.  Further, for the pleasure of enjoying the harmony of flavor infusions and savory tastes, there's thankfully the well-developed offerings of Sartori Cheeses.  I had the pleasure of sampling some of their cheeses recently at an Entertainment showcase hosted by Formulatin PR and thought that combined with their history and unique approach to cheeses, they'd be a great company to explore delving into understanding the limitless range that can be applied to cheese making.  Let's start class, shall we?

Sartori Cheeses come from Antigo, Wisconsin dairy farmers who have been sharing their premium milk with the Sartori family since 1939.  They have a cheese called BellaVitano, made only by them, that they've managed to infuse with various notes to create a veritable dimension of flavors within a single wedge.  I fell in love with their Cannella BellaVitano's slight sweet but not overpowering creamy taste. Infused with cinnamon, it has a fruit-like tang to prelude a creamy texture with a subtle spicy sweet pop of cinnamon to finish.  Next I tried Cognac BellaVitano cheese, that had a woody flavor, almost smoky,  and the perfect finish of Remy Martin Cognac with its confectionary notes like vanilla.  This seems like it would be perfect with the sweet flavors of chocolate, even some citrus and nice dry earthy red wines like Merlot.   



Then I moved onto Sartori's BellaVitano Gold, which was slightly sweet with a tangy punch.  The texture was creamy as it developed but had a unique sharp texture at first bite.  Since this is creamy and sweet, I would balance this off with a dried citrus and a nice Rosé.  My final sampling from the BellaVitano family was an Espresso BellaVitano that started out as Gold 'Bella' that was hand coated with fresh ground Italian roast espresso beans.  The result?  A creamy textured semi-sweet and tangy cheese with a delightful underbite of rich espresso.  I'm thinking you'd want to pair this with dark red wines and even delicate pastries like croissants with nuts.


The next three I tried were diversions from the make-up of their BellaVitanos, but certainly not diversions from flavorful cheeses.  Upon entering my mouth, their Pastorale Blend, a unique blend of cow and sheep milk, is sharp, earthy and smoky but finishes with a slightly sweet creaminess that would go well with a semi-sweet Shiraz and possibly a red grape platter.  Their Extra-Aged Goat is absolutely delicious!  It had an early bite then finished with a semi-sweet and semi-salty savory flavor and creamy finish.  Atop a rustic salad or with an Italian salami with a light semi-sweet red wine is how I'd pair this cheese.  Finally, I once had a pear, arugula and parmesan salad that needed Sartori's SarVecchio Parmesan to turn it around.  Their parmesan is slightly fruity with a sweet savory finish all without the saltiness that makes parmesan too overpowering sometimes.  It was also a refreshing quite creamy parmesan.  


Sartori's Cannella, Cognac, Pastorale Blend and Goat are all limited edition cheeses so be on the lookout at your gourmet market's for these will be in-store just in time for the Holidays in late November/December.  Look out for Sartori Cheeses in the NYC area at stores like Murray's.  Something quite plausible and delicious options for entertaining during the holidays or the often needed relaxing at home with a good book.  Class dismissed.

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