Monday, March 10, 2008

I Found a Local Feta

The farm store is right next door to this viewing room.

I stopped by Appel Farms on Northwest Road last week to buy some cheeses for a birthday potluck. (Happy 55th to Lee Becker!). Appel is best known for their nationally marketed quark, and I’ve mentioned their paneer and gouda, but they also have several varieties that rarely show up in stores.

My favorite new cheesy acquaintance there was the feta with olives. Inspired by my dwindling bank account plus a bit of carbon-footprint consciousness, I’ve been looking for a reasonably priced local feta, and Appel has it. (A bonus for me is that the farm is one of my routes home from work; no extra driving) Somehow I’ve never warmed to most of the flavored feta mixtures. What I really like best is the Mt. Viko sheep/goat combo feta from Greece that they sell at the Co-op. But one of Appel’s offerings comes with big olive slices--mostly green ones--in the cows-milk feta blocks. Both texture and taste work wonderfully together, and it looks good too. At $5.50/lb., it’s well worth a try.

When you make your own cheese in small batches, as Appel does, you can try out any whimsical flavor that may cross your mind. That’s the best explanation I can think of for another variety I didn’t buy for the party: chocolate-chip cheddar. I tried it. It wasn’t awful, but I don’t get the point. I asked the young saleswoman where the idea had come from, and she rolled her eyes. “It’s a novelty,” was all she said. A bit of Googling turned up the news that a British cheesemaker markets chocolate-chip cheddar as an aphrodisiac, but do we really want to take culinary, or erotic, advice from the culture that brought us the Deep-Fried Mars Bar and French Fries combo? Appel’s black pepper cheddar is a better bet.

If your taste in feta runs to geopolitics, check out the debate over feta's culture of origin that is straining relations in the European Economic Community:

Much closer to home, I highly recommend this website for regional cheese enthusiasts:

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