Fright Festo | October 2021 curdbox

Posted by on

Curdbox is our monthly cheese + pairing subscription service. Want to join our merry band of cheese lovers? Head on over to our subscription page to sign up for your monthly box! 

October’s here and can only mean one thing: it’s official Halloween season! We had a fun time curating this month’s Fright Festo box, pulling from our orange cheese files, and with intriguing and Halloween-appropriate pairings to match. Each part of this box has a slightly spooky, scary, unusual, or Halloweeny bent to it—we couldn’t resist! And neither will you once you dig in.

October's Fright Festo curdbox

Harvest Moon by 5 Spoke Creamery

Our first cheese is Harvest Moon by 5 Spoke Creamery—indeed as round and orange as the moon—and with a cratered surface, too! Harvest Moon was born in the wake of a 2013 ban on the French cheese mimolette, another deeply orange orb of a cheese. The FDA had ruled that the cheese mites, which give mimolette its cratered surface, could cause an allergic reaction (the ban was later reversed). 5 Spoke decided to step up and make an American version with their own raw milk, even sourcing recipes and the round cheese molds from France. The result is the gorgeous Harvest Moon, a glowing orange ball that even has the signature cratered surface. It's yielding to bite and melts easily in the mouth, and even though it’s a somewhat mild cheese, it’s a little nutty and a tad butterscotchy, like halloween candy. 

The Robin by Deer Creek

Next, we have a Colby, and we would bet that it’s the first proper Colby that most of you will have ever had. Unfortunately, the common perception is that Colby is basically a bright orange, mild, rubbery cheddar—just a nothing special block of cheese at the supermarket wedged between the industrial cheddar and the industrial Monterrey Jack—that is to say, most people have only ever had it as a commodity cheese. This is a real shame, not only because true Colby is so delicious, but also because it’s one of the original American cheeses (unlike, say, cheddar or Havarti, which come from England and Denmark, respectively).

Chris Gentine of Deer Creek wanted to recreate the Colby of his youth—before a change in regulations in the mid 1990s allowed producers to crank out mounds of inferior, bulk cheese that were still allowed to be called “Colby”. What he ended up with is not just the Colby he remembers from his childhood (perhaps the ghost of Colby past?), but also a cheese that won 2nd place at the World Championship Cheese Contest in 2020. It’s buttery and mild, with a salty finish and a nice firm paste that’s perfect for snacking or melting. If you look closely at the paste, you’ll see it has openings, instead of being just totally smooth inside—supermarket Colby doesn’t have these openings—in fact, these were the characteristic in question when the regulations changed. By not requiring the openings, cheese makers were able to shortcut and make more bulk Colby that just wasn’t as good. To honor this American classic from America’s cheesiest state, Gentine named it The Robin after Wisconsin’s state bird. We love this cheese with pretty much everything.

Shropshire Blue

For our third orange cheese, we have Shropshire Blue by Cropwell Bishop made in Nottinghamshire, England (this cheese is British to the max). Don’t be fooled by the color, this isn’t some cheddar-blue hybrid. Instead, this is a classic English blue cheese that has been died orange by annatto, a natural coloring derived from the seeds of the tropical achiote tree. So going with the theme, you could say this a blue whose Halloween costume is an orange. Shropshire Blue is made very similarly to Stilton, but because of the addition of anatto, it’s a little spicier. It’s also softer, but it’s got the same rich, full, and and powerful flavor of a blue, with a creamy and delicate texture. In case you have any lingering doubts about this cheese’s pedigree, it was awarded Supreme Champion out of 910 cheeses at the 2016 British Cheese Awards, so it’s got some cred. The strong but creamy cheese goes great with all of the pairings, but particularly loved it with the Taza chocolate.


Charcoal Crackers by the Fine Cheese Company

We were so pleased to find a most Halloweeny cracker for this month! But don’t be too spooked, these crackers get their macabre appearance from the addition of charcoal. And if that still seems kind of scary to you, well then you should know that activated charcoal has been used by everyone from Pliny the Elder to Ferran Adrìa. Some claim that adding charcoal helps with digestibility, but others say that’s a bunch of hooey. While we’re going to sit that debate out, what we can say for sure is that these crackers are delicious and the perfect accompaniment to this month’s cheeses! The Fine Cheese Company makes these all-butter crackers by hand in their bakery in Bath, England. They’re sturdy but crumbly, and rich from British butter, with the hearty taste of wheat allowed to shine through. Plus, they look extra cool with this month’s orange cheeses.

White Pumpkin and Almond Murabba by Le Bon Magot

We had to get a pumpkin into this month’s Halloween-themed box, and the fact that it’s a ghostly white one made it all the better! Le Bon Magot (“the hidden treasure”) was founded by Naomi Mobed, who grew up in Pakistan and Iran and lived all over the world before dedicating herself to bringing these incredible preserves, inspired by the flavors ofAfrica, the Middle East and South Asia, to the US market. Murabba is a generic name for a sweet fruit preserve, common in the Middle East and Central and South Asia. One of the company’s flagship products, this White Pumpkin and Almond Murabba is her grandmother’s recipe, made with her spice blend with cardamom and cinnamon, as well as vanilla. It’s sweet and highly fragrant with a comforting mix of warming autumn spices and an intoxicating aroma of more far flung places. It's just a lovely, delicate, perfumed pairing for the cheeses.

Salted Almond Chocolate Disc by Taza Chocolate

Finally, you know there’s got to be chocolate in a Halloween box. But, as you’ll soon find out, the chocolate you have before you is a major step up from a Hershey’s bar. Taza Chocolate (our neighbor hailing from Somerville, MA) was founded in 2005 and were at the forefront of the the Mexican-style craft chocolate movement that took off in the aughts. Stone-grinding is an ancient technique from the Mayans and Aztecs, and leads to chocolate that is earthier and spicier, and usually made with less sugar, than the creamy, European-style chocolates. (Just a tangential but important note: stone-ground chocolate traditionally was combined with water and spices and consumed as a beverage, it wasn’t formed into bars for eating.) Alex Whitmore, the founder of Taza, actually sourced his stone mills from Oaxaca, and he also maintains a direct relationship with all the cocoa growers, so not only is he getting top-notch cacao, but he’s paying a fair wage and only partnering with producers who respect the rights of workers and the environment.

If you’ve never had stone-ground chocolate, you’ll probably notice the texture—it’s grittier or sandier than your typical European-Style chocolate. We love the unusual mouthfeel, not to mention the rich chocolate flavor of Taza chocolate. Instead of having large almonds scattered throughout, the salted almonds are also ground up, so there’s a salty nuttiness throughout.

There’s our box, Fright Festo, it’s frightfully delicious! We hope you love it as much as we did. Until next time, stay cheesy!  

Did you take some photos for the 'gram while enjoying this box? Please tag us @curdbox, along with our cheese and pairing partners  @5_spoke_creamery @deercreekcheese @cropwellbishopcreamery, @thefinecheeseco, @lebonmagot, and @tazachocolateWe love to see our cheese lovers enjoying their boxes!

← Older Post Newer Post →