Arlington Darling’s Five Favorite Cheeses

This post needs no explanation, rationalization, or introduction. Here’s me, dropping my knowledge:

Cheese Assortment

Cheese – Fairway Market

  • Pecorino Tartufo Riserva. I have this every year at my aunt’s house for Christmas Eve, and it always blows my mind. Even my cousin’s 5 year old daughter loved this cheese, and she’s a picky eater. It is salty, nutty, firm, salty, truffley, and slightly crumbly. They are generous with the truffle in this cheese, and the flavor is astounding. Definitely a special occasion cheese to be savored and worth unbuttoning your top button for. I like it plain – no crackers, no other flavors to compete with. This one shines on its own. My aunt waits religiously in line at Murray’s in New York for it (P.S. new favorite website).
  • Humboldt Fog (Cypress Grove). A somewhat recent discovery of mine but it’s going to stand the test of time. This is a funkier cheese but still very accessible (gee, I really sound like I know what I’m talking about, don’t I? Hah! P.S., I don’t.). This cheese is so, so creamy and the vegetable ash in the middle gives it such a unique flavor. I also really love the rind on this cheese. You’ll find this on cheese plates at restaurants for a reason. This is also probably the only cheese on the list that I can only have a few bites of before I get so overwhelmed with the deliciousness that I need to switch to something else for a while or the awesomeness gets dulled. Maybe that doesn’t make sense. But basically it’s a unique winner.
  • Unexpected Cheddar (Trader Joe’s). A beautiful, beautiful blend of cheddar and parmesan – the best of both worlds. Fantastically crumbly, nutty, and super salty. Party favorite. Good alone, melted into quesadillas, and crumbled into a salad. Also plays nice with fruit such as apples and grapes. Unexpected is a great name for it because while it looks humble and average, it definitely isn’t.
  • Red Hawk (Cowgirl Creamery). This cheese makes my list because not only is it delicious, but it reminds me of San Francisco. JJ and I picked up this cheese somewhat randomly for our sourdough picnic and we couldn’t believe our find. It’s a cheese with enough interest to keep a cheese lover entertained while not being so funky that it turns people off. It’s a soft cheese, so crackers are the way to go for me. Some dried fruit is also nice with it (at our picnic, we enjoyed it with some dried apricots).
  • Hand Dipped Ricotta (Lioni Latticini). I buy this cheese at Whole Foods in what I think of as the deli section – where they keep the prepackaged cheese, olives, fresh pasta sauces, etc. I’ve never seen it sold anywhere else, but it is hands-down the best ricotta I’ve ever had. I’m not sure I could do a description of it justice. Let’s just say when I buy it, I keep it simple with some salt and a big hunk of pretzel bread. It’s too delicious of a cheese to mix into pasta or bake with.

There you have it! The big five. Did I miss any? 🙂

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Cheese, of course

One of my GENK ladies, N, got some happy news last night, and so I wanted to celebrate with her and mark the day with something special. So, as I was running out the door to meet her at our kickball game, I though of the perfect gift: cheese!

Not just any cheese. This cheese is unexpected! Literally, that’s the name: “Unexpected Cheddar.”

Or We Could Do Happy Hour - Unexpected Cheddar 1It’s a Trader Joe’s brand of cheese that I discovered accidentally while picking up snacks for the season’s first Jazz in the Garden.  It’s an aged cheddar that has the sharp, nutty bite of a parmesan. It’s crumbly and salty and utterly delicious, especially with crackers. It would probably go well in salads, too.

Sadly, N couldn’t make it to Jazz that day, so she didn’t get to try this fantastically wonderful cheese with the rest of us. So I brought her some after the kickball game! She loved it. I love her. So it worked out really well 🙂

Or We Could Do Happy Hour - Unexpected Cheddar 2

Look at that crumbly, buttery, nutty goodness! Yum.

And it didn’t hurt that last night was perfect, weather-wise. Warm, with a light breeze. I thoroughly enjoyed standing around at the kickball game. Well, I was refereeing so it made sense that I was standing around. And then to top off the night with N’s good news and some cheese. Delightful.

Or We Could Do Happy Hour - Capitol

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas

Part of post-graduation life and my simultaneous conversion to pescetarianism was figuring out how to cook for myself. This involved balancing multiple considerations, some of which could be in conflict with each other:

  • Saving money
  • Convenience (how easy is it to prepare/purchase the ingredients, how portable is the finished meal?)
  • Health

Lately I’ve been into Pinterest (who hasn’t been?) for checking out new recipes, and it’s inspired me to try new ingredients and push my cooking skill set a bit. However, I’m proud to say that this recipe for Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas was one I came up with all on my own! And it meets the three criteria above: it’s cheap, especially if you grate your own cheese and buy the apples at the farmer’s market or in-season at the grocery store; it’s easy and quick to make and I almost always have the ingredients on hand; and it’s healthy.

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas 1

Aside: The term “healthy” in my perspective usually means some combination of low-fat/healthy fats, incorporates some form of protein, and is made up mainly of a fruit or vegetable. I like to think of healthy as anything that will keep me full, has a variety of ingredients for balanced nutrition, and tastes yummy!

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas
2 small-medium size apples, sliced thinly (I prefer Granny Smith. You don’t have to peel them but you can)
1.5-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
4 whole-wheat flour tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste

To make:
1. Thinly slice your apples (peel first if desired).
2. Arrange a small handful of the cheese (approximately 1/8) onto one half of your first tortilla.
3. Arrange 1/4 of the apple slices and some salt and pepper to taste on top of the cheese.
4. Then, complete this first quesadilla by adding another 1/8 of the cheese on top of the apples.
5. Fold the tortilla in half and place in a non-stick skillet on low-medium heat.
6. Cook the tortilla for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side, until fragrant and the cheese begins to bubble.
7. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Makes 4 servings.

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas 2

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas 3

Apple-Cheddar Quesadillas 4

Perfect for an on-the-go breakfast (they keep well in the fridge for a few days wrapped in foil), a snack, or a lunch. I think they’d be great alongside some simply dressed arugula.