Friday, December 31, 2010

Mango Fire White Cheddar Cheese

Jim's Cheese Pantry Mango Fire White Cheddar Cheese

Well friends, it's New Year's Eve and before we crack open the champagne and sparkling juice, I thought we should try a new snack for the new year. I picked up a small block of Jim's Cheese Pantry, Inc.'s Mango Fire White Cheddar Cheese at Shelton's Market, and work combined with holiday furor conspired to leave it untouched for three days, possibly a record around a family of cheese hounds. The fire component of the cheese are habenero pepper bits, which give this cheese a kick that proved to be too much for two out of three guinea pigs, but perfect for me & my fellow fan of the flame, Yeti. I was pleasantly surprised by the vibrant mango flavor and how well it works with the other notes.

Mango Fire White Cheddar Cheese with Triscuits

Now, we sampled this in the most basic cheese fashion, plain with cracker. The complex flavors of this unique cheese don't lend themselves to a lot of applications, but cheese lover that I am, a cheese for cheese's sake will never go lonely in my dairy drawer.

I am, as this year draws to a close, thankful that my long-suffering relatives have, over the years, become accustomed to me arriving at their homes armed with a market bag of unusual snacks and the customary libation of the day. Thanks for being my experimental tasters, family.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gelatinous Mutant Coconut

Today's foray into the world of un-sampled foods took me to a small international foods store, Mabuhay Ethnic Foods. The shopkeeper was personable and friendly, but the market was still being stocked and there was clearly some construction/remodeling going on which limited the selection and display space. My find of the day was a jar of Macapuno Strings, aka 'gelatinous mutant coconut'.
Clearly, any food labeled 'mutant' deserves shelf space in the Peculiar Pantry. For some unknowable reason, my mind decided to associate 'mutant coconut' with 'Zombie Apocalypse' and I spent the drive home mulling over macapuno-brain combinations. At $3.59, the entertainment alone was worth the purchase.

As it turns out, macapuno, aka 'sport coconut',  is a product of the Philippines, a naturally occurring genetic variation of the coconut that yields softer more abundant flesh and no milk. The flesh, rightly described as 'gelatinous', in its cane sugar & water packing liquid, has a much milder flavor than coconut, and would function well as a dessert topping.

Raspberry Jello with Macapuno

I found the texture a little off-putting when eaten alone, but quite liked it mixed into vanilla or coconut ice cream and added to jello (I used raspberry). Later in the week I plan to try it in a few savory applications, most likely an Asian dish.