The other day it occurred to Meesh and I that although this was never meant to become a blog dedicated to cheese, we definitely don’t talk about it nearly as much as we would like (or as much as we do in real life). With that in mind we decided to start a new category dedicated to featuring some of our favorite cheese selections around town, whether they are found in a gourmet grocery store, local food market or available at some of our favorite eateries. And because not all cheese boards are created equal, we thought it only fitting that we highlight the artisanal cheese selection at Eastern Standard (528 Commonwealth Ave.) for our first post.
Offering patrons a choice of 3 or 5 seasonal cheeses, paired with toast and accompaniments, the ever-changing cheese board at Eastern Standard is just another reason to love this place. Along with reasons like the fact that they serve food til 2am, are never pretentious, have amazing cocktails, quality food and knowledgeable service AND when Landsdown St. claims they can’t let anyone else into the bars during the third quarter of a Celtics playoff game because things are getting too rowdy inside, you can always find a seat at the bar at Eastern Standard and enjoy a beer while you watch the game on one of their flat screens sans sweaty drunk guys screaming in your ear. Because of all that, I love Eastern Standard, but lets get back to the cheeeeeeese.
The selection as a whole is thoughtful and well curated. Although it changes frequently, it almost always offers a wide variety of texture and flavors, and is stocked with crowd pleasing cheeses. Which makes sense, seeing as they actually have a cheese program dedicated to researching and selecting the cheese’s they ultimately end up serving. Just recently Meesh and I went to check out what they currently have on selection and were pleasantly surprised to find that not only was it a review-worthy sampling but the staff were also amazingly informative on what was available that day.
Starting with the softer cheeses, the cheese to the far left is Bucherondin. Also known as “Bouche de Poitou,” it is a classic, French goat cheese that hails from the Poitou-Charentes region. Creamy on the outside with a dense, flaky, paste-like interior, this cheese is made from pasteurized goat’s milk in the shape of a log. Which is one place it gets its name from, “buche,” the French word for log. Once the cheese begins to curd the exterior is sprayed with a mold strain, causing it to ripen from the outside in. This is what ultimately gives Bucheron its smooth exterior and chalk-like center; it also results in a wrinkly, bloomy rind that resembles the shape of a tree trunk. It’s semi-soft texture and mild flavor make it perfect with salads and a great addition to any artisinal cheese selection
The cheese to the right is the Moses Sleeper, a Camembert style cheese from Jasper Hills Farm in Greensboro, Vermont. Named after an old Military Veteran (which is where most of Japser Hills cheeses get their name from) it is made from pasteurized cow’s milk. Another semi-soft cheese with a bloomy rind, it’s creamy texture is accompanied by flavors of cauliflower, asparagus and hay.
While noming at Eastern Standard we got a chance to check out the Caciocavallo, which was a new edition to the evenings usual cheese offerings. Made in Basilicata, Italy, this cheese is a typical Italian table cheese. Sweet, sharp and similar to aged provolone, it is a semi-firm cheese made with pulled curd. The name literally translates to “cheese on horseback” in Italian, which gets it’s name from the way it is aged; often hanging over rods in a cellar the way saddlebags hang over a horses back.
Although we didn’t get a chance to try the Caciocavallo because they hadn’t yet been sliced into, we ended up sampling the Appalachian instead (pictured above), a popular cheese from Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia. Sweet, nutty, and a bit buttery, this cheese is still considered to be semi-soft, but was a little firmer than the first two. With hints of mushroom and a spicy finish, it paired perfectly with the Port Poached Michigan Cherries.
Also photographed above (to the right) is Maggie’s Round, a raw cow’s milk cheese from Williams Town, Massachusetts. Made by Cricket Creek Farm, and aged for four months to a year, it is a firm cheese with a a nutty, herbaceous flavor similar to an Italian Toma. The final cheese, which unfortunately is not photogged here, hails from New Hampshire. Landaff, New Hampshire to be exact. Made in the style of a classic Welsh cheese known as Caerphilly, it is a semi-firm raw cow’s milk cheese that gets its buttery texture from its cave-aged rind. The cheese itself is quite savory, with herbal flavors and an aroma of fresh grass. It’s a bit tangy, with a clean finish and on a side note, it is phenomenal when it comes to melting.
For Accompaniments, the board comes paired with Port Poached Michigan Cherries, Pinenuts in Honey, Spiced Nuts and dry sourdough which is made in house. So delightful and delicious and perfect with a glass of wine, we probably devoured this thing in half the time it took me to write about it. Even the olive wood boards, which are hand-crafted, add a more rustic feel to the entire experience.
Ugh, I could go on and on forever but because I have a plane to catch for San Francisco, I must go. I can only hope this inspires you to head over to Kenmore Square soon and experience the cheese board at Eastern Standard if you haven’t already. You wont be disappointed.
*Special thanks to Molly at Eastern Standard for providing such a great wealth of knowledge regarding all the cheeses and for tuning me on to the Cheese Chronicles.