Europeans have long laughed at the pretentiousness of American cheeses (especially kosher ones), but, judging by the latest entries into the field, that situation will soon change. I’ve seen quite a few interesting cheeses at the Pomegranate isles, among them some intriguing flavored ones from the Sugar River Cheese Co. Having tasted these delicious cheeses we just had to contact them and interview Mark Rosen, the company’s President.
I found Mr. Rosen very personable, witty and a true foodie. Besides being a fountain of information on cheese making processes, he also told us some amusing stories about himself, stories that gave us a glimpse into the make up of his love of food and pursuit of quality. That carefully nurtured quest for the best led him to start this company in 2002 with the aim of bringing “natural, terrific tasting, unique, kosher Wisconsin Cheeses to the kosher consumer.” Judging by what we tasted, he certainly succeeded.
The Sugar River cheeses we’ve sampled were: Parmesan (aged 18 months, my personal favorite), White Cheddar (aged 18 months), White Cheddar with Roasted Garlic and Green Onion, White Cheddar with Chipotle, Prairie Jack with Parsley and Chive, Prairie Jack with Green Peppercorns, Monterrey Jack with Jalapeno and Cilantro, Monterrey Jack With Roasted Garlic And Basil (second place award in the Flavored Monterey Jack judging category at the 23rd Annual Competition and Judging by the American Cheese Society‘s (ACS) held July 22, 2006 in Portland, Oregon. The first time Sugar River cheeses ever entered a competition and the first time a kosher cheese ever won!) and Monterey Jack With Tomato And Olive.
SYR, thought this cheeses would go perfectly with some of her favorite pasta recipes. Here’s one she tried which turned out terrific:
SYR‘s Easy Penne Alla Romana
YIELD: 4 to 6 servings
- 1 package of penne
- water to fully cover the pasta
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 chopped garlic
- 6 chopped pearl onions
- 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup zucchini, cubed
- 10 shitake mushrooms
- 1/4 cup oyster mushrooms
- salt and pepper to taste
- 10-15 chopped leaves of fresh basil
- 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
- 1/2 package Sugar River White Cheddar with Roasted Garlic and Green Onion
- Sugar River Parmesan
- In a medium size pot pour in water to two thirds height (enough to cover the pasta).
- Add the penne and cook until it is al dente (still firm, not hard).
- Pour the oil into a medium shallow pan.
- Sauté the chopped garlic and onions.
- Add the tomatoes when the above show some golden brown.
- After 30 seconds add the zucchini and mushrooms.
- Let it all cook for 1 minute and add basil and parsley.
- take off fire after 2 more minutes.
- Add mixture to drained penne
- Cut the Sugar River White Cheddar with Roasted Garlic and Green Onion into small cubes.
- Add the cubes into the mixed penne and vegetable. Continue mixing until cheese is mostly melted.
- Sprinkle with shavings of Sugar River Parmesan.
- Serve while still hot.
Please remember, by using the 18 month aged Parmesan you have to wait six hours before you can eat meat.
Enjoy, gentle reader, Enjoy!