The time for fresh spring cheeses
Date: 20-03-2018 published by Nick Baines
It’s an exciting time of year. We’re all done with the cold, bitter winter, and Beast From The East snowstorms. Yes, now is the time we get a promise of longer, warmer evenings and are rewarded with the flavours of bright, fresh spring cheeses. As produce goes, we have just emerged from the quietest, bleakest period of the year and will slowly start to see a broader range of fresh local ingredients come to the fore. So as menus begin to change, offering lighter, less gut-busting dishes, the bright, fresh flavours of cheeses like ricotta come into play once more, and man are we ready for it. And ricotta is a great place to start, a diverse and dynamic ingredient that helps deliver sprightly pasta dishes that bridge that gap in this season where we’re all happy to be out in our t-shirts, but still waiting for it to warm up enough for shorts. Well-made British ricottas are on the rise, meaning you can say goodbye to the watery, empty flavoured stuff you might be used to finding in the supermarket, and give your customers something that actually carries some depth, and richness.
Fresh goats’ cheese has always been a big player in the spring menu realm, soft, creamy and full of vibrant grassiness. Smooth spring goats’ cheese like Rosary, which has no rind, tend to be less ‘goaty’ and has a broader appeal among diners, particularly those who appreciate more delicate flavours.
Italian cheeses like mozzarella are completely synonymous with spring. Where would we be without the classic starter of sliced mozzarella and juicy ripe tomatoes. That dish has been helping time strapped kitchens keep out the weeds for decades.
With a slight tweak on the recipe, burrata is currently becoming a bit of a celebrity in the fresh cheese world. Made from mozzarella and cream, this
stringy, gooey, deliciously fresh tasting cheese is adorning a great number of antipasti plates and sharing platters. For slightly more robust flavours, you could turn to taleggio, another Italian powerhouse that works well with more warming dishes, or even a young fontina. With the current boon in alpine cheeses, those that hit the spot between savoury, nutty and sweet are given prime place in todays menu line-ups. So what makes spring such a prime time for cheese? The awakening of spring and brighter, longer days seems to cause a seismic shift in the appetites of the dining public. An alarm call for beach body aspirations
and lighter diets? Maybe, but living in the flux of British seasons, it’s the combination of long dark winters on heavy meals of meat and root veg
that breeds a certain yearning for freshness, lightness and brightness all while still making us feel satiated. Cheese has the miraculous power to do
all of the above even with lower calorie varieties like ricotta. So as spring cheeses come bang into season, let the good times roll.
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