As you can probably imagine, The House of Cheese is constantly receiving samples and sales pitches for new products. A good percentage of these are cheese-centric, especially in the vein of cheese condiments. As the perpetual wave of new product submissions arrive at our doors, it gets increasingly challenging to find one that stands out from the crowd. You might say it takes a…Rare Bird.
Rare Bird Preserves wowed everybody in our new products meeting, not just because of their standout flavor, but because of their philosophy (although, their philosophy and flavor go hand in hand). Based in Oak Park, Illinois, Rare Bird uses only seasonal fruit picked at the peak of ripeness. According to Elizabeth Madden, the founder, fruit sometimes comes into her kitchen still warm from the sun. This dedication to freshness has resulted in a superb line of preserves that rotates with the seasons.
When we tasted these preserves with our mongers, we immediately set to matching them with the perfect cheese. Below are our creations:
Weybridge and Passion Fruit Curd: The Passion Fruit curd was vibrant, a little tangy with the perfect level of sweetness. It almost tasted like icing, but healthy and more balanced. With that in mind, we paired it with Weybridge, a mild but proud Camembert style from Vermont that, in peak condition, almost has the texture of dense cheese cake. One of our tasters, Catherine, responded: “This is something that needs to happen every day of my life.”
Willoughby with Cherry Lime Preserves: Mushroomy and gooey, Willoughby screams for a bright, citric condiment to liven it up. The Cherry Lime Preserve was happy to oblige. Together, they touch on every point of the flavor spectrum, creating a pairing that is both instantly enjoyable and thought-provoking.
Harbison with Blueberry Chocolate Preserves: This one comes with an asterisk, because the Blueberry Chocolate Preserves could go on just about anything (cheese, meat, pastries) and be perfectly satisfying. We went with Harbison to complete the triumvirate of soft Jasper Hill cheeses (along with Willoughby and Weybridge). The unctuous, lactic Harbison blends with the Blueberry Chocolate Preserves to create the sensation of scooping melted ice cream out of the bottom of the bowl. Whoa!