Umami Bomb | November 2021 curdbox

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November’s here and there’s that chill in the air, the kind that turns one’s mind to all things cozy. We’re thinking sweaters and blankets, and indulgent and savory comfort foods—that is to say, it’s prime time for an Umami Bomb. Umami, that elusive element of the gustatory experience that’s hard to describe, but you know it when you taste it. It’s often described as meaty, and while it is abundant in meat, it’s also found in mushroom, and tomatoes, and many other foods—in fact, we don’t have any meat in the umami box, proving that umami is here for everyone. This month we have a box in which every cheese and every pairing have their umami dial turned up. So tuck right in and let’s get to it!

November's Umami Bomb curdbox

Highlander by Jasper Hill Creamery

Highlander from Vermont’s Jasper Hill is inspired by French and Swiss Raclette, and if you aren’t familiar Raclette (aka one of the great Wonders of the Cheese World) what you need to know is that it’s both a cheese and a preparation of cheese and you need it in your life. Raclette the Cheese is a rich and melty Alpine cheese (as in: from the Swiss and French Alps), while Raclette the Preparation is a magical occurrence in which a cozy crew gathers fireside and the aforementioned cheese is broiled in a special device until it’s a molten river of bubbling deliciousness before being scraped onto a plate of boiled potatoes, cured meats, pickled onions, mustard, and cornichons. Basically, it’s fondue’s cousin and the height of winter cheese coziness. Highlander is like that, but New England-style. It’s meaty and buttery, and chock full of that umami savoriness, an a little tanginess from the goat's milk. Naming fun-fact: Highlander comes from the Highlands, a nickname for the northeast corner of Vermont, and also a road in Jasper Hill’s home of Greensboro.

Jasper Hill's Highlander with Mitica's Quicos 

Raclette with Porcini by Franz Renggli

But wait—more Raclette? Yup! This is an authentic Swiss (as in, made in Switzerland) Raclette from Franz Renggli, so everything about Raclette from the Highlander section above applies—the rich and savory creaminess, the meltiness, how much you need this in your life. But, then to step if up a notch, Franz adds porcini. Mushrooms are one of the best sources of umami, and when combined with rich and melty cheese, it’s umami heaven. The mushroom flavor is not overpowering, but instead complements the savoriness of the cheese.

Franz Renggli's Raclette with Porcini with the Sweet Potato Chips from the Billy Goat Chip Company

Caciotta al Tartufo by Giuseppe

Our last cheese brings in the hallowed black truffle, which is—you guessed it—another source of umami. Caciotta itself is a simple and rustic Italian cheese that can be made with cow, goat, sheep, or even buffalo milks. This one’s made with both sheep and cow’s milk—a perfect mixture for those who might be sheep-shy—and at 2-3 months, it’s sort of an adolescent age, retaining a semi-soft texture that melts in your mouth. Like with our porcini Raclette, here the truffle flavor isn’t overpowering—it lets the cheese still have a say, while harmonizing with the unmistakably irresistible flavor of truffle.

 

Caciotta al Tartufo with Bella Sun Luci's Teriyaki Tomato Jerky

Teriyaki and Black Pepper Tomato Jerky by Bella Sun Luci

We mentioned them before, but tomatoes also have umami, especially when they’re dried, as these ones are, to concentrate their flavors. Wanna guess what else has umami? Yup, teriyaki sauce, and here California’s Bella Sun Luci has combined both to create a snack (and amazing cheese pairing) that is positively bursting with flavor. You only need to take a small bite, and the chewiness encourages you to just hang on a second and focus on what you’re eating, because man, does it have a lot going on. The black pepper brings just a little singe of heat at the end.  

Quicos by Mitica

Imported by Mitica, these are popular snack in Spain that we also think are killer on a cheese board. These corn kernels have been soaked in water before being fried until they really are the “King of Crunch”, as the container states. The soaking step is important, because the water puffs the kernels up. When the frying evaporates the water, it means the kernel is light and crisp, so you can bite into them without breaking your teeth. These are salted on the heavier side, but it’s just the right amount to bring out the deep corn flavor. The beautifully bronzed exterior add another umami bump to this month’s box.  

Sweet Potato Chips by The Billy Goat Chip Company

Finally, we have the mother of all chips, and the chips that just might ruin you on any other chip. The Billy Goat Chip Company was born out of the The Billy Goat Restaurant in St. Louis. The restaurant has since closed, but the meticulous attention to food lives on in these just absolutely incredible chips. The reason they're so good? The good people at Billy Goat don't skip a single step—they start with top quality potatoes, they hand pick the potatoes, they hand-feed each potato into the slicer, they rinse the potatoes twice, they hand-fry them, and they fill each and every bag by hand. What that means is that these are as good as it gets. They're sweet, salty, spiced, and browned to umami perfection. 

So there’s the box, it unabashedly goes all in on one thing—truly an umami bomb. We found this box particularly addictive, and we hope you do, too!  

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Did you take some photos for the 'gram while enjoying this box? Please tag us @curdbox, along with our cheese and pairing partners  @ jasperhillfarm @bellasunluci @forevercheeseco, and @ the_g.o.a.t._brandWe love to see our cheese lovers enjoying their boxes!

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