By Greg B. A year ago I first received samples from Karoun Dairy, a very tasty dairy based in California which specializes in Mediterranean dairy products. I am proud to say that, while I may have been among the first in this area to sample their products, it is not easy to find in local grocery stores (be sure to look out for their Labne, it’s fantastic on toast!). But with this unseasonably warm weather – 82F outside in Baltimore as I write this – it’s most definitely time to fire up the grill, get outside and enjoy the weather… and some cheese!
I wanted to focus on the grilling cheese here for a moment, because it really is one of those fantastic foods that is great for yourself or to impress any guests. It will take a little bit of preparation and practice, but I assure you when you’ve got it right, you’ve got it. The cheese comes in a small square shaped block, and to grill and share effectively, is best when sliced into small rectangles. Getting the right thickness is a matter of experience – too thin, and it will all melt, but too larger, and not enough of the cheese will melt. I find that somewhere around 1cm in thickness is perfect, over a medium heat. Now, your grill preparation will also matter. If your grill grate isn’t in perfect condition (ie, you don’t do a great job of keeping it oiled or cleaned), maybe this is the time to consider using that cast iron pan you have. Don’t have one of those? Aluminum foil will work just fine. Be sure to get your cooking surface hot, by leaving it over the coals for a few minutes. Then crush your rectangles of Karoun grilling cheese with olive oil, brush the cooking surface with olive oil, and start grilling! You’ll know you have the perfectly done slice when the edge on the heat is starting to bubble, and has taken on a golden brown color. Simply grab with tongs or a spatula, flip, and cook a few minutes on the other side before removing from the heat and serving.
Man, this cheese is so good, it’s making my mouth water as I write this! It honestly tastes a bit bland before it’s cooked, but once you cook it, and caramelize some of those lactose molecules in the cheese to bring out the flavor, plus the saltiness is somehow enhanced.. man. give me a never ending supply of this and some cold beers, and I’m set for a long while!
Of course, Karoun produces other tasty products as well. Their braided string cheese is fantastic (disclaimer: I’m a string cheese addict) and once you open the package, you’ll likely just eat the whole damned thing. Their feta cheeses are wonderful accompaniments to any salad (or omelets!) you have, and they come in regular, low fat and herbed varieties.
So as I mentioned above, while they have great products like the Labne, yogurts and fresh tasting cheese products, definitely don’t miss out on the grilling cheese opportunities, either during this warm spell or into the summer. You won’t ever regret this purchase (not that buying cheese is ever really a regrettable action, but, you know what I mean).