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    Published on October 4th, 2011 | by Greg

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    Bread and Cheese: Lodge and Brooklyn Slate

    There’s noth­ing more flex­i­ble than bread and cheese. A pair­ing in­fi­nite va­ri­ety in style, taste, and pre­sen­ta­tion. Mak­ing cheese is tough, time-con­sum­ing, and prob­a­bly be­yond this site- but we’ve tried our hand at mak­ing a few types of bread and find­ing out new ways of build­ing a sand­wich. There are clas­sics, like the BLT (but around here we add av­o­ca­do), but we pre­fer a Cuban with swiss and mus­tard and ham. Or, you could skip the di­rect com­bi­na­tion, and of­fer sliced bread and cheese on a tray at a par­ty.

    To­day’s kitchen trio in­clude two from Lodge, our fa­vorite mak­er of cast iron cook­ware. We’ll start with the Lodge Cast Iron 7 Quart Dutch Oven- an eigh­teen pound beast of a thing, love­ly and well-built. We had heard about this method of bread bak­ing cour­tesy of Bay Area pro­fes­sion­als like Tar­tine, who man­age to get the love­ly crusty out­side and soft, moist in­te­ri­or through what we al­ways as­sumed was mag­ic. Bread ma­chines sim­ply don’t com­pare, and most reg­u­lar ovens can’t achieve the steam in­jec­tion need­ed to ac­com­plish the feat. So bread mak­ing for most staff be­came al­most des­per­ate- of­ten mediocre re­sults com­pared to the amaz­ing lo­cal bak­ers, and re­quir­ing a fair bit of time and not much less mon­ey. But it turns out that we had sim­ply been miss­ing a key in­gre­di­ent- a dutch oven- and so set about try­ing it out in our old clas­sic O’Keefe & Mer­ritt gas oven. We won’t re­pro­duce any recipes here, since they are wide­ly avail­able and re­quire a lit­tle tri­al and er­ror, but we did fo­cus on­ly on bread though you can cer­tain­ly use a dutch oven for many pur­pos­es. One thing to keep in mind- pre­heat­ing it is a great idea!

    They’re avail­able in many sizes and styles- glass tops and spi­ral han­dles and even a dou­ble dutch oven- and this one was a bit large for our pur­pos­es. And the han­dles are a tad bit small. But it worked mag­ic on our breads, and is an amaz­ing gift for any prospec­tive bak­er. And at $55 or so, it’s not cheap, but as usu­al with Lodge feels like you’re get­ting ev­ery pen­ny worth.

    We al­so have been check­ing out the Lodge Blue Enam­el Pani­ni Press and match­ing Square Grill Pan. We’ve tried out the enam­el­ware be­fore, in the form of an odd­ly adorable Ap­ple Pot. But this was the first pani­ni press that we’ve ev­er re­viewed, from them or any­one else.

    The first thing of note was the weight- this is a wrist-hurt­ing 13 pounds, which is great for en­sur­ing even cook­ing and heat­ing as well as a nice firm press on the sand­wich. The ridges are the per­fect size, make for a love­ly pat­tern, and we didn’t have any is­sues with stick­ing. And the enam­el was sol­id, avail­able in three col­ors (red, green and blue). Ten inch­es is an ide­al size for mak­ing two sand­wich­es at once, and there is a hang­ing hook- but make sure your hooks can han­dle the heft! Cleanup was a bit hard­er than we like, re­quir­ing some soak­ing and scrub­bing to clear out those ridges. Fi­nal­ly, re­mem­ber that when you are buy­ing the lid, you need to buy the pan sep­a­rate­ly. The MSRP seems a bit high, but we found both on Ama­zon for the ridicu­lous­ly low price of $29 for the pan and $23 for the lid. Sand­wich lover? Get a sol­id, love­ly way to make any sand­wich a bit bet­ter.

    Fi­nal­ly, we were get­ting jeal­ous at some re­cent restau­rants, with their fan­cy cheese trays. But it turns out that you can have one too! And, though they aren’t ex­act­ly mul­ti-pur­pose, they do make a great con­ver­sa­tion piece and add a bit of class to any par­ty. We grabbed a va­ri­ety of cheeses from Bi-Rite, and some deli meats as well, and at our most re­cent gath­er­ing ar­rayed them all on the Brook­lyn Slate Spe­cial Edi­tion Slate Cheese Board. Avail­able in black and red, it’s a fair­ly slim piece of nice­ly tex­tured slate, cute­ly pack­aged in a burlap bag. And our fa­vorite part was the in­clud­ed soap­stone chalk, which you can use to note the ori­gin of the Brie or sala­mi. It’s the per­fect cheese tray.

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    About the Author

    Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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