Finding Fondness for Cheese and Chocolate

36fdb1a35cd2f54f95cf2119fb5bc7ed_MI live on the outskirts of Herriman, a fast-growing, baby-filled suburb of 30,000 on the southwestern edge of Salt Lake County. It’s a landscape devoid of independent business. Read of one restaurant that stands out.

Finding interesting stuff means leaving town.

Yesterday, it was to the Chocolate and Cheese Festival at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Beehive-Cheese-1-195x300I chatted with the Beehive Cheese folks, from Uintah. Beehive makes my favorite cheese of late: Barely Buzzed. It’s an Irish style, cheddar-y cheese rubbed with ground espresso beans and lavender. I know. Sounds weird. But it’s delicious.

Beehive started with two brothers-in-law taking cheese-making courses at Utah State University a decade ago. Now, Pat Ford and Tim Welsh employ about 17 people and boast a national distribution.

Nine years ago, they started rubbing “fun, crazy’ flavors into their base cheese, Promontory, recalled Ford. “People said, ‘you can’t do that!’ But do you like it? I asked them. ‘Yes!’”

The result was award-winning and attention-getting.

Barely Buzzed, with ground espresso beans and lavender.

Barely Buzzed, with ground espresso beans and lavender.

Barely Buzzed, TeaHive (with bergamot), SeaHive (with Redmond’s Real Salt and honey), and Big John’s Cajun have all garnered national awards and can be found across the country.

 

A younger company, Millcreek Cacao Roasters, caught my eye. Their small, upscale “Farm to Bar” chocolate features Ecuadorian heirloom cacoa beans. “No middle man,” said co-owner Dana Brewster, who started Millcreek Cacao four years ago with Mark DelVecchio.

Their mission and packaging are equally attractive. But, of course, none of that matters if the chocolate isn’t yummy.

377375_325282860818785_474092429_nIt is.

They start with 70 percent cacao and air-infuse it or otherwise flavor it with peppermint, tart cherry, ginger, orange and espresso. Their blog features a nifty How-To for “experiencing” chocolate. And here’s a video of how they make it.

And an even younger Utah company is Amour Spreads. Founders John and Casee Francis pair fruits with herbs for jams that make you pay attention to what’s on your tongue: apricot rose, pear lavender, blood orange rosemary marmalade. These

yummy Amour Spreads

yummy Amour Spreads

are as far as you get from those plastic units of grape jelly you see stacked by the salt and pepper in dinners.

For the savory-inclined, there’s heirloom tomato, which should permanently replace ketchup in your fridge. The three-year old company uses as much produce as possible from local farmers and gives back to named charities each year. Spreading love, as they say.