Salem Food Tour Bites
If you have ever noticed a large group enter our shop led by a vivacious, smiling woman, you have probably seen a Salem Food Tour. Karen Scalia, owner and operator of these tours around Salem, brings groups into food stores, cafes, and restaurants around town for tastings of chocolates, spices, snacks, and other goodies. At the cheese shop, we usually prepare two bites with cheeses and grocery items we are especially excited about. This past Sunday, we created a couple tastes that I really wanted to share because I think they were some of our best!
In the first bite used Le Moulis Crémier Affiné, a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese from the Pyrénées in France with a soil rubbed rind. Yes, the rind is a dark, chocolate brown because the cheesemakers rub it in soil! How cool! Don’t worry, though, by the time we get it the only thing left is the color, so no dirt in our cases. The tangy, earthy, creamy cheese pairs excellently with the balsamic vinegar sweet and sharp spicy of the Fox Hollow Farm Mustard. Add a pickled red onion from the inimitable Maitland Mountain Farm for some zip and brightness, and you’ve got yourself one tasty (and pretty) bite.
The second combination is even simpler. We pair Invierno Reserve with Sugar Bob’s Smoked Maple Syrup. Invierno Reserve is a firm sheep and cow’s milk cheese from Vermont Shepherd that has the sweetness of fresh green peas as well as a salty, brininess. We put just a dab of the smoked maple syrup on the cheese because this stuff is STRONG (it might make an awesome Old Fashioned, just sayin’), which almost made us feel like we were eating cheese by a crackling fire. It was all very Vermont-y, which is a huge plus in my book.
Both of these bites are ready to be futzed with – use different mustard or pickled thing, try a chestnut honey instead of the smoked maple syrup – but just make sure you really like each component because they are so simple. If you whip these out at a party or just a Netflix and chill kind of night, you’ll be dubbed culinary genius and hero. Or nothing, because everyone will descend with enthusiasm and joy and forget who even provided the tasty snacks, and that’s pretty good too.
For the love of cheese and cheesy pairings,