Truffle-laced anything, if you ask me, should come under a great deal of scrutiny. There was a great article in the New York Times from a few years ago that blew the lid off of the “magic” of truffle-infused-olive oil and frankly, had me wary of anything that claimed to have anything to do with the prohibitively expensive fungus. I reluctantly got back on the truffle bandwagon when I finally tried a can of porcini and truffle sauce that reminded me of Piemonte in an instant (minus the plane fare and the two-hour drive from Malpensa). I was slightly more convinced when a small Italian import brand sampled white and black truffle mayonnaise, honeys, and butters a few times at Fairway, though the price was still a little too high for what it was. Then Steve Jenkins–the man who wrote the book on cheese and is Fairway’s cheesemonger–made an appearance at Fairway Stamford last weekend and was sampling this cheese…and now I’m firmly back on the Truffles Are Awesome But Only In Specific Situations.
blame credit this change in heart on Fairway specifically, as they are the ones importing all of these crazy products in the first place, but they’ve also been extra-generous when it comes to sampling lately. When your store is routinely giving out samples of everything from Spanish Vare cheese to prime sirloin (medium rare, thank you), it’s easy to plan your midday meal around the various foods you might encounter. Add in a chance to meet and chat with their resident experts who are there to promote their various departments–namely cheese and coffee–and you have two suckers in the form of Michael and myself in which we are happy to throw money at whatever they are selling. We are pathetic, I know this, but this is how good the specialty departments are, and we end up being like Fry from Futurama when faced with the new EyePhone:
I like to think that we’re not complete lost causes because even I can draw the line at tiny $20 jars of mushroom-flavored honey, but who can say no to a $5 or $6 indulgence? And really, what’s not to like about Moliterno?
- It’s a sheep’s milk pecorino, so it’s a nice aged hard cheese–a solid choice for those like Michael who are lactose intolerant, at least according to Alton Brown,
- You don’t feel cheated in truffle flavor–not only is the paste actual bits of black truffle (and there’s a good amount to it), the whole cheese tastes of it. It makes for a heady and intense flavor so that a little goes a long way,
- Do you need another reason?
This is a wonderful cheese to serve on a cheese plate when entertaining–it’s different but isn’t intimidating or as funky-smelling as other lesser-known cheeses can be–but I have a hunch that it would go gloriously with some fresh pasta and just a little pepper to make a very fancy version of cacio e pepe. And with the
dreaded anticipated Valentine’s Day coming up, it would serve as a pretty fantastic culinary love letter to any cheese-lover.
In short: Moliterno laced with black truffle is definitely a Specific Situation in which Truffles are Awesome.