My oldest daughter has fallen in love with cheese, so she insisted that we have a cheese course as part of our Xmas Eve dinner this year. I don’t think I’ve ever done one before, but boy am I glad I did. The cheeses were wonderful, and for a couple of my guests (including my husband) the best part of the dinner. Those guests won’t be invited back 🙂
I did my cheese shopping at Trader Joe’s, as it made it easy, so I was able to research TJ cheese recommendations before. The day I went shopping, TJ was offering samples of one of their cheeses and it may very well be my favorite cheese of all times – my daughter also loved it. This is what I ended up serving, in addition to sliced french bread and sliced apples (I also had jams but they proved less popular). Remember that the key to a good cheese course is that the cheeses be close to room temperature, cold cheeses are less flavorful cheeses.
– Le Délice de Bourgogne, a triple cream softened ripened cheese from France. It’s similar to a brie, though even creamier than the triple cream brie they have at TJ, but with a stronger, richer flavor. It’s really delicious.
– Castello Blue, a triple cream soft blue veined cheese from Denmark. This is a real winner, and a real competitor to TJ’s stilton. I think we all liked it, and was one of my 10-yo’s favorites.
– Double Cream Gouda, from Holland. Another all around winner, but not as spectacular as the other two.
– Cotswold Double Gloucester with Onion & Chives, from England. This is the cheese that they were offering tastings of and that blew us away. It has an intense flavor, it’s super cheesy and slightly bitter, and just delicious.
– Arla Dill Havarti, from the US. I got this at Grocery Outlet and my daughter liked it, but it was mild and boring in comparison with the other cheeses.
I have started buying Taylor Farms organic salad mix at Grocery Outlet and I’m quite satisfied with the product. The lettuces are always crisp and clear (they are triple washed) and taste fresh. They last for several days while stored in the plastic container they come in. At $2 for a 5-oz pack, they are a pretty good value. And they originate in Salinas, which means they are pretty local. In all, I’m quite happy with them.
My only complaint is that the packaging is made out of #7 plastic – not a particularly environmentally friendly product.
They have several salad mix choices at Grocery Outlet, I haven’t noticed a remarkable difference in taste.
*2013 Update* According to an article on the New York Times, Taylor Farms has had an “unusual” number of voluntary recalls for tainted products. Of the 10 recalls since 2010, only the last one actually caused people to get sick. Over 200 people contracted cyclosporiasis after eating at chain restaurants. That’s a protozoan infection that is spread through feces. I hope that Taylor Farms did not claim that the salads they sold to restaurants were “triple washed”.
It’s hard to know what to make of these recalls. It may be that Taylor Farms is overly cautious. In a couple of cases the recalls were motivated by undisclosed ingredients rather than pathogens.
The last recall included companies other than Taylor. Investigators are still trying to find how the pathogens made their way into products processed in different facilities.
The one thing that I’m sure of is that now that the New York Times featured this problem, Taylor is going to be even more careful.
I’ll still eat their salads.