Conjuring Cheese Pairings
Last night I taught a cheese and witchcraft class in my hometown Chicago. That might seem a little weird at first: how exactly does cheese relate to witchcraft? Obviously, cheese makes anything taste like magick, but the relationship between the two doesn’t stop there. Cheese also has a magickal history.
Throughout history, dairymaids were accused of witchcraft when their cows produced particularly abundant milk or their cheeses were wicked tasty. Others were accused of cursing their neighbor’s cheese production when their yields were poor or their cows went dry.
People have also used cheese in rituals and offerings as a symbol of prosperity. Some have read rind formations, as one would tea leaves. In Icelandic folklore, male cheesemakers would mark their wheels and send them off to maidens, who, upon eating it, would fall in love with them. And finally, cheese has long been paired with magickal herbs, fruits, and drinks and eaten with an intention to cast a spell.
The relation makes sense: there is something fundamentally magickal about cheese. The shapeshifting transformation from milk to curd appears miraculous. Cheese possesses the power to seduce us and leave us craving more. It puts us under a spell.
Here are 5 of the witchiest cheeses to spook up your Halloween cheese platter.
Like Bonne Bouche from Vermont Creamery
Cheeses with shadowy rinds are cloaked in black vegetable ash before aging in cellars. This helps the outer rind form and gives the cheese a spooky, lacy look. Goat cheeses are especially eerie, with bone-white paste inside ghastly gray rind. Bonne Bouche is a favorite of mine, especially adorned with fig jam. This sinful pairing promotes prosperity and fertility.
from Tulip Tree
You can pretty much expect any soft cheese with a pinkish rind to fill a room with a distinct scent of gym socks and decay. These are washed-rind cheeses, and most have more bark than bite. It stains the nostrils, but the buttery inside is milder with a beefy flavor. Foxglove here is bathed in porter beer before aging, creating a sweet and custardy interior. It’s named after a poisonous plant long associated with witchcraft, which also goes by the names Witches’ Gloves and Bloody Fingers.
From Jasper Hill Farm
This cheese is bound with spruce bark, as if crafted by the Blair Witch herself. The interior is so sinfully gooey that without the wooden ring, it would spill out of its rind. Peel back the rind and spoon out the indulgent, pudding-like center. The inside is custard-rich and tangy, with subtle notes of the forest.
Like Cabot Clothbound
From Jasper Hill Farm
This is not your mama’s Wisconsin cheddar. Clothbound cheddars are made in the traditional English-style. Each wheel is coated in lard and wrapped with muslin cloth before going to the cellar to age, like a mummy to a tomb. I love Cabot Clothbound’s sweet, nutty flavor and crumbly texture.
Try it with caramel apple jam from Rare Bird Preserves. Apples have long symbolized immortality, traditionally placed on offerings to the dead on Samhain.
Like Smokey Blue From Rogue Creamery
Smoked cheeses evoke images of fire and brimstone. While smokey flavors often overpower the cheese, Smokey Blue here is a rich, buttery blue with just a kiss of campfire smoke. The wheels are gently smoked over smoldering hazelnut shells. It’s smooth and dense, with notes of bacon, funk, and sweet cream
Try it with Indulgence chocolatiers porter bar, dark chocolate infused with espresso and barley malt.
Thank you to all of my Cheese and Witchcraft event sponsors above! It’s a privilege to play with your products.