I’ve always loved cheese. It’s just one reason why although I’ve had flirtations with being a vegetarian in my younger days (my mother loves to remind me of this) – I don’t think being a vegan would ever be a possibility. Like many American kids, the cheese I was most familiar with was the kind that came in perfectly squared packages wrapped in plastic envelopes, in a perfectly yellow orange hue. Before I learned how to cook, it was pretty easy to grab two slices of bread and a slice of American cheese and make a pretty tasty snack.
As a child of Jamaican parents, I was also introduced to another variety of “cheese” - it came in a can — yes a can, and you’d carve it up with a knife and place slices on a spiced bun — pretty much a fruitcake. Frightening? Possibly if you’re unfamiliar, but trust me – it works.
Both of these scenarios are what might give a French child nightmares. If you haven’t checked out the No Reservations episode from Burgundy that just aired – it gives a nice glimpse into the culture of cheese in that country.
Here in Georgia, we’re no stranger to processed cheese that’s a staple of the American diet, and although we’re not well known for our cheese production -we have a number of farms that are changing the way we think about cheese. My friend Brad Kaplan recently produced a wonderful story about many of our wonderful artisan cheese producers in the state. That smiling guy you see above this paragraph, is Mat, who recently made a swing through Atlanta to meet with chefs who have their cheese on the menu, potential new clients and meet with a few bloggers. He represents Sweet Grass Dairy, a farm in Thomasville, GA that has been supplying area restaurants with quality cheese and whose product can be found in Whole Foods Market throughout the Southeast.
I’m familiar with a few of their cheeses as I’m a regular visitor to the cheese counter at Star Provisions, and Tim Gaddis is passionate about the cheeses that produced here in the south. At a Dining in the Dark presentation two years ago paired one of their blue cheeses with Benton’s country ham for a delicious version of the grilled cheese of my youth. You’ll also find their Thomasville Tomme cheese in the melt-in-your-mouth grit fritters at Miller Union (recently featured on the Cooking Channel).
I personally like to scramble eggs and put a few crumbles of Thomasville Tomme cheese along with a sprinkle or two of shallot salt & cracked black pepper. I’ve hated blue cheese in the past, but SGD’s Asher Blue as well as Point Reyes‘ blue have made me a convert.
The cheeses were paired with different varieties of Emily G’s Jams, which are available in stores and online. The Fig Pomegranate is a new favorite of mine along with their Bold Blue.
If you’re in Atlanta and are interested in finding out more about the various artisan cheeses on the market, be sure to check out Cheese Week at Star Provisions which started today. Sweet Grass Dairy and other cheese producers will be represented throughout the week with samples. I’ve attended in the past and have learned a lot and found new favorites. Star Provisions was recently named one of the top five cheese shops in the nation by Food & Wine & there isn’t a better guy in town to learn from in town than Tim.
.All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone 4S and edited with the app I’ve been obsessed with lately – VSCO CAM.