Halloween Quaranteen | October 2020 curdbox

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We’re deep into October now, which means one thing: Halloween is almost upon us! Maybe it’s all those masks we’ve been wearing, but we are really in the Halloween spirit this year and as such, we bring you our October box with cheeses and pairings in festive colors. While we know October brings no shortage of snacks (read: candy), this box can be a savory break amidst the onslaught of sweets. So light up your jack o’lantern and pour a goblet of wine, because we’re about to take you through the Halloween Quaranteen box. 

Our three cheeses for the Halloween Quaranteen box, from left: Sottocenere al Tartufo, Chimay Vieux, and Black Knight Tilsit

Black Knight Tilsit by Black Knight

Our first cheese, Black Knight Tilsit, is perfectly dressed for our Halloween box, cloaked in an inky black wax rind (shown below). This cheese came about when Dutch immigrants in the town of Tilsit in East Prussia (now called Sovetsk in Russia’s Kalingrad) tried to recreate their beloved Gouda from their home country. Because of the different climate, molds, and yeasts of their new lands, it just didn’t come out the same (terroir is a real thing!). But, it turned out to be a happy mistake because they created an entirely new cheese that was delicious in its own right, and they called it Tilsit. If you haven’t heard of Tilsit, you may know it by another name: Danish Havarti is perhaps the most well-known type of Tilsit cheese.

Black Knight Tilsit with Black Kassel Picante Salami Chips

Like the gouda that it’s modeled after, this is a friendly & flexible cow’s milk cheese that’s aged 2 months. It’s got a mild but savory flavor that’s kept juicy from a lactic tang. It semi-soft and likes to crumble, and melts like a champ, making it as happy on a cheese board as in a cooked meal.

Chimay Vieux by Scourmont Abbey

Our next cheese, Chimay Vieux, is in pumpkin colors: bright orange! If the word Chimay is ringing a bell, you’re probably thinking of the beer, and that’s OK, because this cheese is made by those very same Trappist monks over in Belgium’s Scourmont Abbey, and they have got this down pat. Like Black Knight Tilsit, this cheese was also a happy accident: the monks were trying to make just their straight-up Chimay cheese, but then accidentally left it too long, so it became…vieux (the French word for for aged). This cow’s milk cheese is also friendly & flexible, and because it’s a little older, it’s great for nugetting—stick it with a pointy thing until it breaks up into little bits. It’s got a creamy, nutty taste that’s redolent of hazelnuts, with a sharp little nip on the back end.

Chimay Vieux, with Dalmatia's Blue Plum Spread

Sottocenere al Tartufo by Moro Formaggi

We have Moro Formaggi from the Veneto region of Northern Italy to thank for this truffle of a cheese. This is another friendly & flexible cow's milk cheese, aged 4-5 months. Due to the slivers of truffle (tartufo) slipped throughout, this is our most fragrant of the bunch and as such should be tasted last (at least for the initial round of tasting) so it doesn't overpower the nuances in the first two cheeses. That being said, the truffle aroma is still subtle and well-balanced, and if you're one of the truffle-averse (we know you're out there)—this is a great gateway to the wonderful world of truffle cheeses.

Sottocenere al Tartufo with Dalmati's Plum Spread

You may notice that this cheese has also shown up in costume with its entirely grey rind. It gets it macabre colors from an ash coating—in fact, “sottocenere” means “under ash” (a cheese entombed in ash, how spooky is that?) The ash is mixed with the warming autumnal spices of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, along with coriander, licorice, and fennel. You can definitely eat the rind (and we encourage you to at least try it!) It will be drier than the rest of the cheese, but with a more powerful flavor than the paste, which is semi-soft and smooth, with creamy, savory, salty, and earthy flavor. Sottocenere al Tartufo would go wonderfully grated over pasta or in a fancy mac and cheese. 

Blue Plum Spread by Dalmatia

Croatia’s Dalmatia knows you don’t need to mess with a good thing, which is why they make this fruit spread with only perfectly plump plums from Central Europe’s Pannonian Basin. These plums are cooked slow and low, but because there’s no added sugar, it can’t technically be called a “jam”, but I mean let’s be real: this is basically a jam and you should treat it as such. Which means you should spread a generous dollop upon each and every cheese in this box (and beyond). It's got a rich and velvety feel and a deep, almost port-like flavor. A Halloween bonus: look at that color! Deliciously dark.

Picante Salami Chips by Piller's Black Kassel

Piller’s Black Kassel from Canada does it old school: they use time-honored European technique to make their array of cured meats and salamis. These salami chips are made with pork and flavored with onion, garlic, and a little habanero for a kick before being naturally wood-smoked and dry-aged. Salami is chock-full of umami, which basically turns up the volume of the taste, so when paired with our cheeses, you get the fullest flavor in each bite. For Halloween, we loved the black castle motif throughout this brand—a perfect location for a Halloween party.

Poppy & Pepper Crispy French Waffle Crackers by Trésors Gourmands

These waffle crackers are from northern France’s Trésors Gourmands. They're doing the work of adding texture and crunch to this month's cheese board. Charmingly pressed into a waffle pattern, these are similar to a wafer cracker, but are sturdier and so don't break as easily (haven't we all had the experience of having your wafer cracker frustratingly snap into bits only to be helplessly suspended in a cheese dip?) The flavor is light enough to not overpower any of our cheeses, but it's still bringing something to the table: the roasted poppy and pepper come rolling through the back. Our Halloween bonus: that bright orange packaging, and the black speckled color. In our podcast, curdbox founder Jenn Mason likens them to itty bitty spiders. Halloween creepy, for sure! 

Chimay Vieux with Trésors Gourmands Poppy & Pepper Crispy French Waffle Crackers

As always, this is the box we send you, but we encourage you to make it your own! With this month's abundance of candy floating around, why not see how a chocolate bar pairs with these, or possibly some candy corn? Or maybe go vegetable with roasted sweet potato or squash. We can't promise that pairings from outside this box will work together, but Halloween comes but once a year, so we encourage you to be daring!


Did you take some photos while enjoying this box that you were thinking of adding to Instagram? Please tag us @curdbox, along with our cheese and pairing partners @bieresdechimay@dalmatia_spreads, and @blackkassel. We love to see our cheese lovers enjoying their boxes!

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