According to some of my culinary English friends yesterday was National Cheese Day. Indeed a cause to celebrate. Whether it actually was or not I don't know, but it inspired me to look up some cheese related recipes and try and find a good place to buy cheese in Malmö.
Found a few recipes, see inside, and as I walked across Möllevångstorget to start buying stuff I stumbled upon Möllans Ost. Möllans Ost is a truly remarkable cheese shop. Fantastic selection presented by nice and knowledgable staff. A must visit if you ever go to Malmö.
There I found some remarkable cheeses to go with the condiment recipes I found, and also some walnuts and quince paste, making the platter perfect.
In Sweden a typical cheese platter as my parents served it when I was a kid contains a number of cheeses; usually some bland brie, a camembert and some hard cheese; served with saltine crackers, wafers, grapes and wine. Tad sparse, no? I was never much interested in cheese until a friend of mine taught me that the condiments are what make a cheese platter really tantalizing.
Goat cheese with walnuts and a nice honey or manchego with quince paste heighten the taste of the cheese and also evens out the taste a bit mixing the often heavy cheese taste up with some sweetness or acidity which I think provides for a more interesting experience and well rounded palate.
First for the cheeses though. Guided by the friendly staff at Möllans Ost I invested in six different cheeses:
- Le Rustique Camembert (France)
- S:t Agur Blue (France)
- Gruyère Reserva, a hard cheese (Switzerland)
- Les Petit Fiance, goat cheese (France)
- Manchego, another hard cheese (Spain)
- Parmesan (Italy)
Other really good suggestions for a platter are aged Gouda, five or seven years; or Swedish Västerbottenost. If you want to be really brave get an Epoisses, this runny cheese is absolutely divine when served at the right level of maturity (beware, awful when not...).
To go with this I also got a red and a green bell pepper and a sweet apple. For crackers I got some whole wheat ones, some light wheat crackers and also Swedish christmas ginger snaps. Ginger snaps with blue cheese is an amazing marriage of flavors, sounds weird but works really well! If you are not in Sweden you can find these at any IKEA store year round.
With a bit of preparation based on a few simple recipes the cheese platter can be made into so much more. I already mentioned walnuts with honey and also quince paste, and a quick googling found me these excellent condiments which were really quick and easy to make. Just make sure to cook them up a few hours prior to serving giving them time to cool down.
Pears boiled in Sauternes wine with lemon balm
2 firm pears, diced
0,5 dl of fructose (fruit sugar)
1,5 dl of Sauternes wine
Peel, remove the seeds and dice the pears. Put them with wine and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil. Let them boil until really soft, and the wine sauce has thickened and become a bit syrupy. The pears actually go a bit translucent as they get soft, making the mixture look really lovely. When done, put in a serving bowl and put it in a bath of water to cool down. Before serving, add some chopped lemon balm.
Raisins boiled in port wine
0,75 dl of demerara sugar
1 dl of port wine (the Swedish Grådask is really nice)
2 dl dried raisins
Rinse the rasisins under running water. Melt the demerara sugar in a pot (careful, thi is hot) and add the port. When I did this, the port cooled the sugar down so it went all solidified again, but raising the heat slightly and stirring a lot solved this. Add the raisins and let it boil until the liquid gets cloudy and thick. Put in a nice serving bowl and let cool. This goes really well with the S:t Agur.
Serve the cheese and crackers with the walnuts, honey, quince paste, pears, raisins, bell peppers and apple along with a nice white wine. Or why not the port that you have left with some almond biscuits or biscotti.
My favorites are; goat cheese with walnuts and honey; camembert with pears; blue cheese on ginger snaps with the raisins; and manchego or gruyere with quince paste.