Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Denver Cheese Party

I went to Denver, Colorado for a writers' conference this weekend, but I got sidetracked by cheese. First, there was soul-food mac'n cheese at Tom's Home Cookin' in Five Points, then there were late-nite nachos at Garbo's, followed by cream-cheese-stuffed French toast yesterday at a Jewish deli. Just as my friend D. was driving me to the airport this morning, he remembered an all-grilled-cheese joint in Denver, called Chedd's, and we almost had to turn the car around.

Luckily, I was still full from our cheese party the night before, a meal crowned by gorgonzola-slathered steak and preceded by one of my fave new discoveries: marinated chevre.
I went to Denver on a mission -- to eat some mountain goat cheese from Colorado's beloved Haystack Mountain Dairy, based in Longmont. Having eaten my share of Pennsylvania goat cheese lately, I was curious to nibble at new elevations, and Haystack's gorgeous jar of chevre floating in herbs and oil was a highlight -- better than the mac'n cheese and the stuffed French toast put together.

Sometimes the simplest pleasures are unadulterated, and that was the case as I reached into this jar and withdrew a moonish cutlet gilded with crushed herbs. My old roommate, David, was working on his Parm risotto, and his partner, Tim, stood at the fry daddy, staring into bracelets of breaded onions, while I sat purring in a corner chair, goat cheese in my mouth, olive oil running down my wrists.

Haystack's marinated chevre was delicate and pillowy, fluffier than other marinated goat cheeses I've tried. The mouthfeel was exquisite -- not the slightest bit chalky or grainy -- and the flavor, it tasted of mint and fresh snowfall, bringing to mind a spring herb garden, lightly dusted with sleet, the herbs still young and tender. What are the Haystackers feeding their goats?

The rest of our cheese party surpassed my expectations. David's risotto was gorgeously mushroomy, Tim's onion rings were feather-light, and the gorgonzola-garlic butter I made to top our steaks was furious good (see recipe below).

Next time I'm in Denver, I want to try Haysack Peak, an ash-coated pyramid that won first place at the 2009 American Cheese Society Awards. And I want to check out Chedd's for a Meatless Horse Sandwich. In the meantime, I'll keep dreaming of that pillow-light chevre, atop a crusty baguette with green olives. Glorious.

Gorgonzola Garlic Butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola (I used Rogue's Oregonzola)
2 Tbsp. fresh chives, minced
1 garlic bulb, roasted
Salt & pep

An hour before eating, roast the garlic bulb at 400 for 40 minutes -- you'll want to lop the top off, drizzle it with a little olive oil, and wrap it in foil. When it's fini, mash it in a bowl, until it's pulpy, then stir in butter, gorg, chives, and salt and pepper to taste.

Slather it on grilled steak, and save whatever is left to spread on toasted baguette.


  1. That gorgonzola butter sounds like, no joke, the best possible topping for a steak. Like the kind of last straw where you collapse from joy.

  2. Aw, too bad we missed you! American Cheese Society just moved to Denver!

  3. Aggggg, whoa is me! I missed my golden opportunity to mingle with cheese singles. Next time I'm in Denver, Lara, we will have to connect.

  4. Hey that's a good blog. I love cheese party.
    Cheese recipes are tasty.

  5. Haystack Peak is a definite winner! I really enjoyed it a couple of months ago, but I had to call Haystack Mountain directly and ask it to ship me a pyramid because I couldn't find it locally. The shipping cost more than the cheese itself!

  6. i love haystack stuff too! several of their cheeses are available at the 9th street dibruno brothers....

  7. so I definitely tried your awesome gorgonzola garlic butter recipe the other night over balsamic marinated grilled steak and it was SUBLIME. i can't wait to make it again! have even convinced my family to serve it alongside prime rib this weekend for my college graduation dinner.