KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Cheese, Cheese Me
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Thursday, April 06, 2006
Cheese, Cheese Me

March may have come in like a lion, but April can go out like a lamb if you manage to get your grubby little hands around a few rounds of Cowgirl Creamery's springtime offering of nettle-wrapped St. Pat cheese. After this whole horrible 26 DAYS OF RAIN IN MARCH MY GOD PEOPLE 26 DAYS I MEAN IF I WANTED TO SPONTANEOUSLY SPROUT GILLS I'D LIVE IN SEATTLE AND NOT BE PAYING RIDICULOUS RENT HERE YOU KNOW BECAUSE WHILE I LIKE A BIT OF RAIN NOW AND THEN JUST TO BE COZY I'M TIRED OF MY CLOTHES BEING DAMP EVEN WHEN I DON'T GO OUTSIDE MY GOD MY GOD, it's really the only thing cheering me up right now.

First of all, because my conscience (read: my husband) has been bugging me, I should say that while I work part-time at Ye Olde Stanke Cheeseshoppe, I do not work on commission and I certainly (sadly) do not get any kickbacks for promoting any cheese we carry. Anything cheesy I write about here is totally of my own volition and passion.

Anyway, stinging nettles, the new superfood, are all the rage at this time of year. They're in season, they're amazingly good for you, and they're sublimely tasty. Frozen or blanched to remove the sting, nettles pack a nutritional wallop of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex, beta-carotene, and amino acids. They also happen to contain more protein than any other vegetable out there. In the Bay Area there are so many ways to boost your rain-soaked immune system with the little stinging beasts. You can have them with your brunchified eggs at Zuni Cafe; Incanto's Chris Cosentino might be doing a nettle tagliatelle; and Michael Tusk -- in his neverending quest to make me faint from sheer desire -- has a wild nettle sformato with a Fontina Val d'Aosta fonduta over at Quince. These days, I choose to have my stinging nettles on my cheese plate.

With the nettles wrapped around a thick disk of firm whole-milk cheese, a deep, woodsy taste of braised artichokes shines through the soft and full St. Pat paste. For me, eating St. Pat is like inhaling the shadowed and hidden glades of Golden Gate Park. It's also rare to find a whole milk cheese with such an intense popcorn butteriness as this one imparts -- that facet is more frequently attributed to double or triple-creams -- but I really can't categorize the unique flavor in any other way. St. Pat coats your tongue and stays in your mouth long after you've swallowed the lot. Because it gets creamy and spreadable after the usual hour at room temperature, bread and crackers do this cheese fine, but as usual, the only cheese accompaniment I go for is a knife. No reason to break up that velvet mass with anything other than a chilled glass of something bubbly and sweet, like a wisteria-soaked Moscato d'Asti.


Blogger cookiecrumb said...


4/07/2006 8:09 PM

Blogger Catherine said...

Wow! I've seen stinging nettles at the farmer's market and wondered how/why one might want to prepare and eat them. Thanks for the info. I can't wait to check out the cheese shop!

4/08/2006 9:33 PM

Anonymous Sheila said...

Not two days after reading this, I was at my local cheeseshop, and what should I see but a round of St. Pat. You're right, it's delicious.

4/13/2006 2:16 PM

Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

Excellent! Glad to hear that.

4/14/2006 1:48 PM


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