Cheese Pairing: Keen's Cheddar with Honeycrisp Apples

keens_cheddar.jpg

Keen's is one of England's few remaining farmstead cheddars. Produced in the West Country from raw cow's milk, it is a wonderfully crumbly, grassy cheddar with a smooth bite and a lingering finish. Pairing it with apples is a great idea, the latter's fruitiness serving to highlight the acidic twang of the cheddar.

In fact last year I posted an entry about pairing cheese with apples, and the cheddar I chose then was Fiscalini Farms Cheddar, produced in California. The apple it went best with was Mutsu, a green apple that's firm, tart, and sweet. The balance between sweet and tart is perfect in the Mutsu, and I like to think it complements that very same balance evident in all great cheddars.

One thing I might do differently here is simply get a different cheddar. While Keen's is certainly one of the world's best, you can do even better with Montgomery's cheddar, a cheese that is, in Max McCalman'swords, the standard-bearer for all cheddars. In fact Keen's and Montgomery's are made down the block from one another from cows of the same breed grazing on grass in the same terroir, but they are located in separate watersheds. And that, according to McCalman, is what accounts for the difference in these two cheeses. Amazing.

You might want to add a beverage here, perhaps a crisp English hard cider (overkill?), or maybe a premium cold sake. Sake, you say? Well last night I went to a sake and and cheese pairing at Artisanal, and I was blown away with how well the Montgomery cheddar paired with each and every sake in the tasting. But don't take my word for it. Go ahead and try it! And, as always, let us know what you think.

P.S. More about the sake & cheese tasting coming soon...