Category Archives: cheese

Glöggmingel with Madame Fromage


It’s getting cold out there so it’s time to cook comforting stews, soups with dark rye bread or have tea with cookies crawled up on the sofa. Another combo that works is to host a Fika & Cheese party with glögg. And this is exactly what Tenaya Darlington aka Madame Fromage I did in Philly the other day.

I arrived by bus with loaves of rye bread,  thin crisps with caraway seeds and ginger cookies while Tenaya unwrapped incredibly luscious cheeses that I had been dreaming of for weeks (and still do). Together we fired up some spicy glögg (image above) just before our guests filled the kitchen/ living room with joyful cheese & baking conversations while we were munching away.  One of our guests, cheesemaker Sue Miller from Birchrun Hill Farm came with some of their ‘mind blowing’ blue cheeses. Another guest, Marisa McClellan from Food in Jars brought pickled kohlrabi and honey-sweetened jam that matched our cheese & fika board beautifully.

In Sweden we would call this kind of party glöggmingel (mingle with mulled wine), a party that often is held in December prior to Christmas.

Want to host a party like this? Then you should continue reading about the party over at Madame Fromage’s blog. Tenaya brings you behind the scenes and reveals how to successfully host a party like this.

I especially want to thank Tenaya and Todd for having me in your kitchen. It was wonderful to finally meet you in person. And thanks to everyone who came and made this event into an inspiring and fun party.



related links

Fika – The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall
Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings by Tenaya Darlington (I love this book!!!)
Glögg - Swedish Mulled Wine
Lussekatter recipe by Anna Brones with illustrated shapes by me
Pepparkakor (ginger cookies) by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall at Ecosalon
Knäckebröd (thin crisps) with wild fennel – baked in Sicily
Fika & Cheese Party (original invitation)

Fika & Cheese Party with Madame Fromage (Philadelphia)

A Fika Party with Madame Fromage (Philadelphia)

Saturday November 7, Tenaya Darlington aka Madame Fromage will be hosting an afternoon Fika with me at her house in Philadelphia. And we both would love you to join us.
For the occasion, we’re designing a cozy mulled wine gathering with fika treats and cheese. There will be a variety of bread and cookie samples  from the fika book and Tenaya will specially design a luscious cheese board to match the treats. There will also be a baking demonstration and I will show you one of the best ways to make glögg (Swedish mulled wine). Tenaya will give you her personal stories behind the selected cheeses.

We are both super excited to see you there. And I’m also thrilled to finally meet Tenaya, who has been one of my favorite blogger and food writers for years. Last year we collaborated on an illustrated cheese calender, which resulted in four seasonal cheese posts (see links below).  I’m super honored that she wants to host this little cheese salon with me, for you.

The Fika book and Tenaya’s wonderful cheese book will be on sale at the party. You can pre order them to a special price when you purchase your ticket. I will also have a few fika and cheese prints for sale at the party.

If you want to know more about fika and how to pair it with cheese you are most welcome. We have 15 spots for this special fika hour.

price: $20 person
Total spots: 15

Psst did you miss this? Well you can easily host one yourself! Here, Tenaya brings you behind the scenes and reveals how successfully host a Fika & Cheese party at home.

A little background about your hosts

Tenaya Darlington aka Madame Fromage is a cheese blogger and writer in Philadelphia. Her latest book, Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings. At the moment she is finishing up her next cookbook which is a cocktail collaboration with her brother André Darlington.

Johanna Kindvall is a blogger and illustrator from Sweden who lives in Brooklyn. Her latest book is Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Breads, Pastries, and Other Treats (Ten Speed, 2015), by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall.

The Cheese Calendar 
Winter Blues: A Pairing Party for 8 to 12 (part 4)
Smoke and Funk: A Fall Cheese Board (part 3)
Late Summer Cheese Picnic (part 2)
Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer (part 1)

Winter Blues: A Pairing Party for 8 to 12 (part 4)

© Johanna Kindvall


I hope you all are having a wonderful start of 2015. Winter is here and it’s time for Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage and my final post in our seasonal cheese calendar, Winter (below you can find links to the other posts). As it is the end of the series, we thought it was suitable to celebrate with a blue cheese pairing party.

I hope you have enjoyed our Seasonal Cheese Calendar as much as we have. Eventually we will create cards and prints. They will be for sale in both our shops.

Winter Blues: A Pairing Party for 8 to 12
by Madame Fromage

Late winter is an ideal time to host an Around the World with Blue Cheese party. In the cold months, who doesn’t dream of traveling abroad? Since so many countries make iconic blues, it’s delightful to take one’s taste buds on a cruise from Stilton to Roquefort, then home again for a taste of artisan American funk.

Blues vary widely in taste and texture. Some swing savory with notes of creamed spinach, fresh herbs, or even pine — while others deliver a sweet song to the tongue. Gorgonzola Dolce tastes like ice cream (try it with cherry jam and graham crackers), and Valdéon can deliver notes of grape and white chocolate. Other blues make me think of oysters – all minerals and brine. Exquisite.

Here’s what to do if you want to host a blue cheese pairing party:

1) pick a wide range of blues, like the ones listed below – aim for five or six hunks, you’ll need ¼ or ½ pound each.

2) Invite 8 to 12 friends, and tell each person to bring an after-dinner drink: stout, barleywine, Scotch/whiskey, or a fortified wine (like Port, Madeira, or Sherry).

Then, set out all of your cheeses – let them come to room temperature before serving, and use notecards to label them – and garnish them with some grapes, dates or apricots, walnuts, berry jam, honey, and dark chocolate.

At your tasting party, let the blues talk. Try them one at a time with a variety of beverages. You’ll go through every glass in your cupboard. Between bites, you can eat grapes or baguette slices to cleanse your palate. At the end of the night, snap photos of your favorite pairings. If you forget, don’t worry – everyone will remember the night they came to your house for a blue cheese initiation.

Note: if you don’t want to mix too many kinds of alcohol, just pick dessert wines or stout/barleywines.

Five Iconic Blue Cheeses

© Johanna Kindvall

Britain’s iconic blue is savory with hints of tobacco and leather. It’s sold in wheels with a cigar-colored rind, making its whole disposition rather grandfatherly. Think of it as a craggy, cozy old character – ideally suited for slushy days and a back-drop of scratchy folk records. “Potted Stilton” is sold in crocks – a sort of holiday treat. It’s soft and pungent, delicious with chutney and a plate of oaty biscuits. For a much-loved pairing, sip a glass of Port (or even Scotch). Stilton also loves stout.

© Johanna Kindvall

Spain’s most famous blue is a “granny” cheese, sweet and a little salty with a shawl made of Sycamore leaves. Lean in and you’ll smell a damp cottage with a front walkway made of slate and violets sticking up between the cracks. Lovely for dessert, try serving it with a spot of dark chocolate – it has a hint of white chocolate on the finish, which is lovely to play off. Walnuts and honey are a fine pairing, too. Sherry and barleywine make especially good matches.

© Johanna Kindvall

Italy produces a pair of twin blue cheeses, dolce (sweet) and piccante (sharp). Piccante loves pasta and is terrific shmeared on steak or stirred into white bean soup. Dolce loves a light clear honey and a crack of black pepper, alongside some pears – it’s so gooey, you can spoon it up like mousse. Try pairing it with a fruity lambic (Kriek) or barleywine.© Johanna Kindvall

Really good French Roquefort tastes like a cheese from the sea – salty and mineral bright. Its indigo veins shimmer, and its paste is the consistency of melting butter, thanks to sheep’s milk. Roquefort gains its extraordinary combination of flavors from aging in seaside caves that are famous for their “fleurines” – fissures that allow the damp air to circulate. Quality Roquefort (I like Carles), served with a chilled glass of Sauternes, will leave you speechless.© Johanna Kindvall

Rogue River Smokey
One of the great American artisan blues, RRS tastes like bacon in the form of cheese. It loves camping, pancakes, and long walks on the beach. Rogue Creamery, in Oregon, makes a dozen different blues, each one subtly different. This selection is gently smoked over hazelnut shells, making for a nutty, buttery rogue. Pair it with an achingly dark stout or a Manhattan.

Wondering how blue cheeses get their dark veins? They’re pierced with long needles. The piercings allow air to flow through the wheels, and that promotes “blue-ing.” Many people think that blue mold is injected into the cheese, but that’s not so. The “blue” develops naturally, thanks to a special culture (Penicillium Roqueforti) that cheesemakers stir into the curds. That said, “blue” likes to wander, so you’ll want to store your blue cheeses away from other cheeses in your fridge.


Please also read the other parts in this Seasonal Cheese Calendar:

Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer (part 1)
Late Summer Cheese Picnic (part 2)
Smoke and Funk: A Fall Cheese Board (part 3)


Smoke and Funk: A Fall Cheese Board (part 3)

Fall is just around the corner (or at least here in Brooklyn) and it’s time for part 3 of the seasonal collaboration with Tenaya Darlington, alias Madame Fromage. This time of the year I just want to put my wellingtons on and pick loads and loads of mushrooms. And a proper mushroom hunt needs a picnic and together with Tenaya there will of course be cheese.

Smoke and Funk: A Fall Cheese Board (part3)
by Madame Fromage

In fall, I love when the air smells of damp leaves and wood fire. It’s a good time for a hike with wool hats and a hamper of cheese. Find a smooth tree stump or an overturned log without too many mushrooms, and you can create a woodland snack scape fit for a band of hobbits.

Such an adventure calls for cheeses that bring earth and forest to mind.

Clothbound cheeses. Leaf-wrapped cheeses. Bark-bound cheeses. Cheeses smoked over wood. And my favorite: booze-washed cheeses that are supple and mushroomy with a kick of rank funk.

Here are a few fall favorites with unusual coverlets and trappings…

Clothbound Cheese

Long before block American Cheddar appeared, traditional British Cheddars were wrapped in muslin and smeared with lard to keep them moist inside cellars. Aging a cheese in a cellar or a cave kept cheeses cool and allowed them to develop unique tastes – let’s call that taste “earthy.” Today, several traditional Cheddar makers still produce clothbound Cheddar – ask for samples of Montgomery’s, Keen’s, or Quicke’s next time you visit a good cheese shop. A handful of American makers have been inspired to wrap their Cheddars in cloth, too, including Cabot Clothbound and Beecher’s Reserve.

If you haven’t tried a clothbound Cheddar before, now is the time! As the days grow shorter, don’t you long for the taste of mushrooms and butter? Clothbound cheddars are ‘shroomy and supple, perfect to serve on Halloween – invite your friends in to taste mummified cheese from a cave. They’ll find it more compelling than candy.

Bark-bound Cheese

In fall, seasonal cheeses that are wrapped in bark begin to appear in markets. In France, the best-known varieties are Vacherin Mont d’Or and Epoisses. These small moons turn so soft and gooey that cheesemakers use “belts” made of bark (Birch or Spruce) to hold the wheel in tact. Think of them as cheeses that need girdles. This European tradition has, once again, inspired several American artisans to follow suit with special cheeses, like Harbison and Winnimere, from Jasper Hill in Vermont.

You can warm these cheeses very gently on a lipped plate or a crock – try 200 degrees in your toaster oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Then, plunge steaming new potatoes into them. This is how the Swiss make it through fall and winter. Be sure to serve a round of Doppelbocks.

Smoked Cheese

One of the best smoked cheeses, Idiazábal, comes from the Basque region of Spain — a nutty, buttery sheep’s milk cheese that is lightly smoked over a fire to impart a fragrant taste. This smoky accent is part of a mountain tradition; the same cheese from the valley around Navarre is not smoked. Idiazábal is often compared to Manchego, from the same region. Both cheeses are traditionally paired with quince paste or quince jam. The bright, acidic taste of the fruit offsets the dense, woodsy flavor of this cheese.

Sit by the fire with some mulled cider or a Spanish red. On a cheese board, this darling is wildly versatile. Try pairing it with toasted almonds, meaty green olives, cured meats, dried apricots, and pine honey. If you want to add another rare smoked beauty, make it Rogue River Smoky — a stunner from Oregon with midnight veins.

Booze-washed Cheese

Long ago, monks hatched the idea to wash wheels of cheese with beer and spirits — dampening the rinds adds moisture to the paste but also turns the exterior a wee bit sticky and funky. Stinking Bishop, from England, is washed in a spirit made from pears, called perry. Epoisses, mentioned above, is washed in Marc de Bourgogne – a dazzling brandy. Chimay is washed in Belgian Chimay. If you’re a fan of beefy cheeses, this is the season to break out these fudgy wedges and let the breeze carry the scent away from the rest of your family.

I love to serve these stinky monsters with a side of beef stew – they adore braised meat and onions. And, of course, you’ll want to wash it all down with a pint of Belgian ale or a snifter of Brandy. Maybe both, depending which way the wind blows.


Please also read the other parts in this seasonal cheese calendar:

Winter Blues: A Pairing Party for 8 to 12 (part 4)
Late Summer Cheese Picnic
(part 2)
Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer (part 1)

* If you want to dig into more cheeses, I recommend you to check out Tenaya’s cheese book. It’s wonderful!
* And I can also let you know that she is working on her 1st cocktail book together with her brother, André Darlington. Cheers.


Late Summer Cheese Picnic (part 2)

Both Tenaya Darlington and I have separately experienced Italy earlier this summer. As you know I visit Case Vecchie in Sicily while Tenaya was leading a story telling workshop in Puglia. Now she is back in Philadelphia and has set up a decadent cheese picnic for us to crave for this summer.

Late Summer Cheese Picnic (part 2)
by Madame Fromage

Summer is the season to eat cheese in the wild. What’s lovelier than eating Pecorino in a pasture strewn with wildflowers? As you eat, you can taste the grassiness of the milk, and the experience becomes doubly sensual. If you can’t picnic near actual ewes, stare up at the clouds and picture a pastoral life. In the summer, shepherds throughout Europe still lead animals into the hills to feast on wild grasses and herbs (mint, fennel, dill). Animals that gobble gorgeous feed produce beautiful milk. And thus, the best cheeses come to be.

For a summer picnic, I love to buy cheeses made from grass-fed milk. Farmers’ markets are a great source for these beauties, and so is a cheese counter that specializes in artisan cheese. You can also learn to discern grass-fed cow’s milk cheese just by sight; cows cannot digest beta carotene, so they produce golden summer milk. If you see a butter-yellow cow’s milk cheese, chances are it was made from a grass-fed gal.

Picnic cheeses should be easy to pack and easy to pair. Here are a few suggestions for mid-summer cheese combinations that you can toss into a hamper and assemble quickly. If you have your wits about you, grab some toothpicks and a Swiss Army knife. Otherwise, just grab a baguette and a blanket for the grass.

1. Mozzarella balls in brine are a lovely first bite. You can skewer them with cherry tomatoes and fresh basil – or try strawberries and basil – then drizzle them with balsamic vinegar. This is lovely with Prosecco.

2. Fresh ricotta comes alive with fresh herbs and sea salt. Pack some thyme from your windowsill, or forage in the wild. Bring a bottle of extra virgin olive oil for drizzling. Also, you can stuff fresh ricotta into peach halves or apricot halves, or use the fruit as scoops. Try topping these with toasted almonds and honey.

3. Soft cheeses that come in balsa wood boxes (Camembert) or little crocks (Saint-Marcellin) or leaves (Banon, Robiola) are excellent picnic mates. They are gooey enough to spread with a stick, if need be, and they all pair wonderfully with dried fruit, nuts, and honey. Try this: Camembert, green apples, honey, walnuts, amber honey, and a jug of dry hard cider.

4. Swiss Army Knife cheeses include Provolone, Caciocavallo, Pecorino and other sturdy birdies. Choose one or two hunks and load up on olives, cured meat, celery sticks, pickled mushrooms, and olive oil crackers. A bottle of red? Enough said.

5. Gooey blue (like rich Gorgonzola Dolce) makes for a lovely dessert, especially with graham crackers and honey or cherry jam. A goat’s milk blue, like Cremificato Verde Capra, is also a good choice because it’s light. Try packing some dark chocolate and candied nuts, or bring a box of dates and stuff them with blue cheese and almonds.

Storing cheeses for picnics: If you have a hot day or a long bike ride ahead of you, pack your cheeses on frozen water bottles or a chilled bottle of wine. Sheep’s milk cheeses tend to sweat in the sun, so keep them covered with a cloth nappy.

Please also read the other parts in this seasonal cheese calendar:

Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer (part 1)
Smoke and Funk: A Fall Cheese Board (part 3)
Winter Blues: A Pairing Party for 8 to 12 (part 4)

More by Madame Fromage on kokblog
Guest Post: How to Turn Your Desk Into a Cheese Board
and check out her wonderful cheese book