Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wedding Cheese

The original idea was to give people some guidelines on how to go about buying cheese for their wedding, but then I thought to myself, I will not take someone else's rules. This is my event and only the two people getting married know what the entire event should be like. But before I turn into Groomzilla, here are my menus and a small explanation of why I choose the cheeses in the boards and dishes.

One of the first events we had on our way to getting married was a good-bye picnic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn where a lot of our friends from New York came. The day turned out to be a gorgeous sunny, warm and aromatic day. I love the smell of Prospect Park; the air from the marshes there along with the briefs swifts of ocean air, make the place a perfect spot to clean out your lungs from the city traffic.

For this event, we asked friends to bring food potluck style and everyone outdid themselves. From small sandwiches, to spring rolls and awesome endive salad with a fatty pecorino. Everything was delicious. I got the cheese for the picnic at Lucy's Whey at the Chelsea Market, at Murray's Cheese in Greenwich Village and at Formaggio's and Saxelby at the Essex Market.

My idea for the cheese was to have a fresh board, nothing heavy that will be difficult to eat with the heat of the day and also nothing with a rind that would start turning crusty and old after being out of the fridge and in the sun for a while. Because the picnic was also part of the wedding celebration, I wanted something romantic and have to admit that looked everywhere for Coeur de Neufchatel, but nobody in the city seems to carry it.

I also wanted local cheeses and crowd pleasers, so I made my mind and got some American and some French, the board included (pictured on top)

Cremont from Vermont Butter and Cheese Co.,
Langres from France,
Mountaineer form Meadow Creek Dairy (in Virginia),
Tomme de Savoie from France, but this is produced by a small cheesemaker and the production is really limited only available at Formaggio's, and
Gorgonzola Picante from Italy (this was the only outliner and a total wild guess, that worked great in the summer heat)

The other cheese that I bought but didn't make it to the board as my husband and I ate all the night before the picnic was Moses Sleeper from Jasper Hill Farms. This was available only at Saxelby and it was so perfect runny and creamy that needed to be eaten right away.

All the cheeses worked well together and people got to taste them with food, which is great. We had a couple of baguettes on hand and tons of other food to munch on. My personal favorite that day was Cremont and Will's was Mountaineer. Langres is a huge crowd pleaser and it is too bad that Murray's no longer washes them in-house before putting them in the shelves. Back when I was in the caves, we brushed them every other day and they turned even more funky after being with other washed rinds. If I ever start an affinage room in my house I will definitely try to wash my Langres too.

In a non-wedding note, the day of the picnic was also the day of the first cheesemongers invitational organized in NYC. I was at the event and got to see so many friends and people in the cheese world. It was truly a unique experience.

The second event involving cheese to celebrate our marriage was a cheese tasting for our friends and family in Mexico City. Since Will and I are not religious, we wanted to do various events where our loved ones will share in the experiences that make us individuals but also a couple. Will choose to have a private showing of the Polyforum Siqueiros light and sound show for everyone and I organized a tasting of Mexican cheeses.

Here that challenge was even greater, but with the help of cheesemakers, cheesemongers and my mom, all the cheese arrived on time and was ready to be tasted by everyone a day before the wedding. I choose four Mexican cheeses, from three different regions of the country. The reason was that I believe that these cheeses represented our culinary culture and a distinct terroir.

The board had:

Queso Doble Crema de Cuadro, Chiapas (pictured alone)
Queso de Bola de Ocosingo, Chiapas
Queso Menonita, Chihuahua
Queso de Oveja, Queretaro

The two first ones are made in Chiapas with cows’ milk, if you check back in some of my older posts you will find a description of them. The third one is made in the North of Mexico by a Mennonite minority. The ones that I got were not on top of their game, but you could taste the terroir of the Northern pastures with a more fat flavor and perfect coloring. The last one is made by a great couple who just started making cheese a couple of years ago. They established themselves in Queretaro, which is becoming a Mecca for cheese and wine. This particular cheese is excellent when is slightly mature, you can find information about them at Quesos de Oveja.

I paired these cheeses with grapes from Hidalgo, Pitahaya from the coast, caramelized figs from the middle part of the country, freshly squeezed orange juice and Bola De Oro coffee. I gave a little presentation about cheese tasting and invited future members of the board of the Mexican Cheese Society. It was such a fun thing to do.

I wished I had been able to bring Queso de Poro de Balancan and real Cotija and Quesillo de Oaxaca, but synchronized logistics in Mexico are still our Achilles heel and you cannot completely depend on people sending the cheese on time.

The last event was the wedding itself, and the banquet afterwards. We choose a restaurant call Saks in San Angel, mostly because they are one of the few restaurant in Mexico that serve organic and local produce and meat. There were two different cheeses in the menu at the banquet, not as main dishes but rather as part of another dish. The first was Requeson, which is not really a cheese; it is like Ricotta a second cooking of leftover whey. This was served on blue corn tortillas to make an amazing quesadilla. The other cheese was a manchego style cheese (read my entry on Mexican manchego style cheeses to understand what is this cheese) melted with mushrooms, squash blossoms and spinach, inside a phyllo pie dripped with poblano cream. This last one was our vegetarian option and for the meat eaters we had local ribs of lamb encrusted with herbs.

The menu was a total success with everyone feeling super full and happy. For me and Will this was the best present, to have everyone that loves us with us that day eating, experiencing and enjoying all the things we love. Cheese!


  1. Carlos, thanks for loving the Cremont, you should come and visit our creamery, it is "only" a 5 hours drive from NY city.
    Your friends at Vermont Creamery

  2. Adeline, Cremont was amazing, I'm a big fan. Is this the cheese that you helped develop? It is outstanding, between this and Moses Sleeper from Jasper Hill Farms, I see no point on buying the pasteurized versions of Camembert from France. I will definitely come and visit soon. Best to Allison and the gang at VBCC. Thanks for reading me.


  3. Hola Carlos,

    Stumbled upon your blog while searching for a recipe that could use the famous Ocosingo cheese.
    Ideas! I need ideas!

    Some french bread and cheese as botana? Thought of that, but you know this cheese is so intense... and 20 people in a small apartment eating it can get a tad messy. Not to mention that opening one of the bolas and not having it finished just breaks my heart. It was brought to me just a few days ago from Chiapas!

    So a dip, that can be portioned in small dishes I think is the best way to go. Ideas on how or with what, if any, to mix it? Ocosingo with some cream? Ocosingo with some Philly to "tame" it (heresy!)?

    Regards from Monterrey, NL,

  4. We normally put some olive oil and a little bit of chile in the left over soft cheese to make a dip or cheese balls that can be put on top of salad. The first inner skin is supposed to be cooked in a sauce, as if you were making a traditional Mexican dish, but replace the meat with cheese. The outer layer can be melted for quesadillas. Hopes this helps.