Longer than I would like to admit, I met with Mr. Daniels of Agora Foods to speak about the possibility of opening locavoreCLE in the Gordon Square area. As Agora Foods is based in the neighborhood, and expanding with Astoria, I believed he would be a great resource. His opinion is based in fact/reality and therefore, is perfect for an up and coming entrepreneur such as myself. Not only did Daniels talk to me about Gordon Square, he also told me all about Agora Foods, giving me a tour of their facilities. Being the cheese expert that Daniels is, he didn’t let me leave empty handed. I took home Narragansett Creamery‘s Salty Sea Feta and Divine Providence as well as Belletoile’s Garlic & Herbs Cheese Spread. On a subsequent meeting, Daniels surpised me with a chunk of Queso Galega. Looks like I’ve found a new friend.

Cheese 101: Divine Providence

Divine Providence

Background

This semi-aged Gouda-style cheese has a natural-rind and a nutty, smooth finish. It is cave aged for 3-5 months and only available on a limited basis. (Courtesy Narragansett Creamery)

The artisan cheese is a first for Rhode Island. [Louella] Hill spent years learning the craft from experts in Tuscany, New York and Maine, but her dream was to be a Rhode Island cheesemaker using milk from Rhode Island farms…

That led her to the state health department, where a helpful official told her about Providence Specialty Products.

“I had no idea there was anyone making cheese in Rhode Island,” she says. The low-profile company lives in a nondescript building between a knife factory and a welding shop on the outskirts of Olneyville…

And nobody knew about them. They won this amazing award, and who heard about it?” She went to work for the company two days a week as a cheesemaker, and the Narragansett Creamery artisan division was born [in 2007].

For now, the artisan division mainly comprises Louella’s vat and a stack of shelves in the corner of a storeroom where the cheese ages in the open air…

Her first cheeses were made from local milk, from less than fifty miles away, but she plans to switch to milk exclusively from Rhode Island farms. (Courtesy Rhode Island Monthly)

[Mark] Federico, a cheesemaker for over three decades, had only been producing cheese for wholesale buyers. Now he’s selling retail. “Cheese is a science, but it’s an art. And that’s the fun part of it,’’ says Federico. “And [in] the artisan division, every batch might come out a little different.’’ (Courtesy boston.com)

Aroma/Flavor

Divine Providence, a Gouda style cheese, has a buttery, creamy, and smooth aroma as well as texture. Cheese.com describes the texture of a typical Gouda as “springy.” I believe that also applies here. The flavor of Divine Providence is mild and would be great as a companion cheese with other unique ingredients, whether on a cheese board or in a delicious grilled cheese.

Cheese 101: Divine Providence

Final Thoughts

Divine Providence may be plain and simple but its unique flavors or texture is worth a second look.Yes, this cheese is mild and unassuming, but Divine Providence is made with care and mastery by Narragansett Creamery creating a deliciously delicate Gouda style cheese.

Cheese 101: Salty Sea Feta

Salty Sea Feta

Background

Crafted from whole milk and sea salt, our feta won a Gold Medal at the Wisconsin World Cheese Championships! Our ‘Ocean State’ fans were as proud as we were. (Courtesy Narragansett Creamery)

Although this feta has a brine, it is minimal in comparison to typical feta. Most fetas are soaked in brine but in the salty sea feta there is only enough brine to preserve the cheese.This allows for a less salty taste and for the uniqueness of this cheese to flourish. (Paraphrased Information Courtesy Mr. Daniels)

Aroma/Flavor

Upon unwrapping the Salty Sea Feta, the pungent, feta smell was overwhelming. I was worried I wasn’t going to enjoy the cheese but I continued on. The brine slowly oozed out of the packaging as I tried to cut a piece. My first bite echoed the aroma I experienced when I opened the cheese. Again, I was concerned Salty Sea Feta wasn’t for me, but I soldiered on. With each bite, I became more and more intrigued. The pungent aroma/flavor was gone and a salty, feta cheese with a long finish had appeared. With each bite, my love for the feta increased. The crumbly, moisture filled cheese was delicious and did the feta name proud.

Cheese 101: Salty Sea Feta

Final Thoughts

When I opened the package, I truly thought I would be turned off by Salty Sea Feta. However, this cheese really grew on me. I don’t typically search out delicious Feta cheeses, but I definitely found one with Narragansett Creamery‘s Salty Sea Feta.

Cheese 101: Queso Galega

Queso Galega

Background

A soft, creamy cow’s milk cheese from Galicia similar to DOP Arzua Ulloa, Queso Gallego quickly oozes when you cut into the wheel. It is perfect grilled or served with honey. 6/2# (Courtesy Forever Cheese)

Aroma/Flavor

Mr. Daniels provided me with a chunk of Queso Galaga allowing me to expand my horizons. I had never heard of this cheese and, honestly, had to ask Daniels the name as the label confused me. With that being said, the Queso Galaga really intrigued and impressed me. The buttery, nutty aroma and smooth, creamy texture combines to create a delicious and unique cheese. I couldn’t put my finger on the exact flavor of the Queso Galaga but Daniels informed me it is like Brie when at room temperature. I find that interesting as I don’t typically like Brie, and didn’t make that connection, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Queso Galaga.

Cheese 101: Queso Galega

Final Thoughts

I honestly can’t give you a specific reason as to why I enjoyed the Queso Galaga as much as I did, but it is definitely a stand out of all the cheeses I have tried so far. By trying the Queso Galaga I was not only able to expand my cheese horizons, but also sample something that has a great, one of a kind flavor.

Cheese 101: Belletoile Garlic & Herbs Cheese Spread

Garlic & Herbs Cheese Spread

Background

For the “background” section I typically google the name of the cheese and am presented with many links. That was not the case with Belletoille’s Garlic & Herb’s Cheese Spread. I actually found next to nothing. However, Mr. Daniels informed me that Belletoille is a premium sub brand of fromagerie Henry Hutin.

Born to farmer parents in 1900 in the south of the Meuse department, Henri Hutin founded a craft soft ripened cheese plant in Lacroix-sur-Meuse in 1922. His recipes, know-how, and rigour quickly earned him a reputation for excellence in the region, and far beyond, and the title of “Master Cheese Maker.”…

Today the fromagerie Henri Hutin has more than 350 employees and generates sales of nearly €120 million. (Courtesy Henri Hutin)

Aroma/Flavor

With this being a garlic and herbs cheese spread, the aroma and taste is exactly as you would expect. The garlic and herb flavors are very evident without being too overwhelming adding a great compliment to the creamy smooth texture. Comparing this spread to more traditional cheeses is unfair as they are completely different and serve very different purposes. Any of the traditional cheeses above would be perfect on their own while this spread would be ideal on a cracker.

Cheese 101: Belletoile Garlic & Herbs Cheese Spread

Final Thoughts

I feel as though this spread is very similar to the more popular Boursin cheese spread. Because this is a cheese spread, one might discount it and move on to more traditional cheeses. However, that shouldn’t be the case. Belletoile’s Garlic & Herbs Cheese Spread definitely delivers on its promise. It may not blow you away, but it is a good alternative when you are looking for something different to eat and serve.