Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Day-of-the-Dead Cheese Board

On Saturday, I built an altar. Yes, a cheese altar. I wanted to honor the spirits of cheeses past, like this lovely Gran Queso from Emmi Roth Käse.

In October, I had the privilege of touring the plant where this cheese was made, and I can still picture the factory -- a little chalet on the Plains. Emmi Roth Käse looks like the kind of cheese factory the Von Trapp family might have built, had the singers become cheesemakers. It even has window boxes.

Inside, it’s all business. Swift and Swiss. Rind-washing robots move through soaring garages, and men with beard nets and booties slosh through floor sanitizer, clipboards in hand. One corridor smelled sweetly of paprika, from the spices that are rubbed into this cheese.

Emmi Roth Kase is known for its Alpine cheeses, specifically its Grand Cru Gruyere which is sold around the country (I buy it at Wegmans). Below, you can see the vastness of the cheese caves; each wheel is perfect, and the place is pristine.

Emmi Roth Käse also makes a line of Spanish-style cheeses. The company's Gran Queso picked up a first place award at the Amercian Cheese Society conference a few months ago.

Gran Queso is a lovely cheese, like toffee with mild chili pepper. We ate it on apple pie, after a round of soft tacos and talk about dead loved ones. It was a lovely wedge for a Day of the Dead dinner party, since it’s a little smoky and very dry.

This cheese also worked quite nicely alongside Day of the Dead bread (above) and the fresh corn tortillas I picked up from Tortilleria y San Roman in the Italian Market.

If you live in Philly and you haven't visited this hole in the wall on a Saturday to buy a $2 stack of hot tortillas, you need to embrace this near-death experience. Be sure to stand on the corner of 9th and Carpenter and eat one right away. You will die of pleasure.

To keep in the spirit of the day, last night Monsieur Fromage and I embodied our favorite dead artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. This is what cheese and tequila will do...


  1. Tenaya, segue into a story about the Von Trapps that do make cheese! Seriously! They are relatives of THE Von Trapp family that settled in Vermont and make some very lovely cheeses, some of which are aged in the cellars at jasper hill. Awesome costumes by the way!

  2. Whaaaaa? No way, Zeke! Another reason to visit Jasper Hill.

  3. Tis true. It's awesome.