What is Mardi Gras?
A Carnival celebration usually celebrated in the days before Ash Wednesday. Sometimes known as ‘Fat Tuesday’, it is a time to feast before Lent. In some traditions, it is associated with the time all the way from Epiphany up until Lent. One of the most famous Mardi Gras celebrations takes place in New Orleans, but there are famous parties everywhere from Rio de Janeiro to Venice.
Masks and costumes often form part of the celebrations and parades can be seen through cities around the world. Parades and balls are organized by krewes, which will raise funds throughout the year to put on the elaborate floats seen during the festivities.
The History of Mardi Gras
The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced all the way back to Roman celebrations in Europe, when celebrations would be held to welcome spring. Over time, the festivities became wrapped up in the Christian traditions and started to spread.
Mardi Gras first arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with the Le Moyne brothers in the late 17th century. The pair were sent by King Louis XIV to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane. They arrived and set up camp around 60 miles downriver of modern-day New Orleans on March 3, 1699, the day of Mardi Gras. In honor of the holiday, they named the place Point du Mardi Gras. By 1703, French settlers in Mobile, Alabama had established their first organized Mardi Gras celebrations. The first krewe was formed in 1711.
Mardi Gras Food Traditions
There are a variety of different foods eaten around the world during the Mardi Gras festivities.
In the United States, we celebrate with rich foods, as a way to eat them before the deprivation of Lent. Traditional dishes include gumbo, crawfish boil, and beignets (classic French doughnuts served with powdered sugar). The King Cake is usually filled with nuts and spiced fruit and is topped with sprinkles in the Mardi Gras colors: purple, green, and gold.
Over in the United Kingdom they celebrate Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. Pancakes, usually in the French crepe style, are served with a variety of toppings. The traditional way to eat them is with a sprinkling of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, although many other toppings are also enjoyed.
In Sweden, they delight in the fastlagsbulle, more commonly known as Semla, a sweet cardamom-spiced roll, cut in half and filled with both almond paste and cream. In Finland, they sometimes have a jam filling instead. It is common to eat them with a cup of tea or served in a bowl of hot milk.
Do you celebrate? Let us know how in the comments!
Sometimes you want to throw a party that is a little out of the ordinary. Perhaps you have a special birthday or anniversary coming up? One way that we like to create a special atmosphere is to serve a signature drink. Today we are going to help you explore the unusual world of wine cocktails. First, we’ll explain two of the ingredients as they aren’t your usual red or white wine!
Ingredients for Wine Cocktails: Vermouth
Vermouth is flavoured with an infusion of herbs, spices and peels and is one of the most widely used aromatized wines. An aromatized wine is a fortified wine that has had flavours such as herbs, spices, and fruits added to it. It is made by using a base wine which has alcohol and dry ingredients added that will infuse flavor. It may then by sweetened with cane sugar or caramelized sugar. Red vermouths are usually sweeter, whilst pale vermouths will be dry.
Ingredients for Wine Cocktails: Sherry
Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that have been air-dried. It has a sweet, spiced taste almost like a Christmas cake. There is a wide variety of different sherries from dry Manzanilla to sweet Pedro Ximenez. It works well with spirits such as whiskey and combines with citrus flavours.
This is said to date back to the 1820s and 1830s. It’s a simple way of drinking sherry that allows the flavours to shine through. The ingredients are muddled and then shaken over ice. Garnish it with a lemon wheel, berries and mint.
- Amontillado Sherry
- Simple syrup
- Orange slices
A slightly sweet cocktail that is best served very cold. Make sure that you use a chilled glass and mix everything together well to keep it fresh. The gin, lemon juice and syrup are mixed and then topped up with champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist for extra flair.
- Lemon juice
- Simple syrup
This is a classic Spanish cocktail that combines wine with fruity flavours. It is usually garnished with plenty of fruit including slices of orange, lemon and apples.
- Wine – a dry red is usually best as you are adding sweetness
- Triple sec
- Fruit juice – usually orange
- Simple syrup
- Lemonade is sometimes used, especially in white wine sangrias
The classic cocktail, a martini can be made with vodka or gin. Served in a martini glass, it’s probably one of the most glamorous things that you can order at a bar. It is sometimes garnished with a lemon twist or an olive.
- 6 parts gin/vodka
- 1 part dry vermouth
Do you ever make wine cocktails? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
What is Beer Cheese?
Beer Cheese is one of our Wisconsin Cheeses along with Muenster, Brick, Limburger, and our American Cheeses. It is full flavored, salty and tangy; you won’t be missing out on flavor if you try this cheese.
Beer Cheese is a semi-soft combination of Limburger Cheese and Brick Cheese. Not to be mistaken for the Beer Cheese dips that are popular in Kentucky, it has a very strong smell and taste.
How is it made?
Beer Cheese starts production in a very similar way to Brick Cheese, which is cultured at a slightly higher temperature than Cheddar, giving it a marginally higher fat content and slightly altering the protein structure. To make it into Beer Cheese, it is aged in very humid conditions for around seven months.
How should I eat it?
Traditionally, Germans like to put it on rye or pumpernickel bread along with some sliced onion and have it with beer. It is also a good pairing with salami and mustard. Try it with a honey mustard for extra sweetness. It can be stirred into soups and dips, but we would recommend tasting as you cook so that you don’t overpower the flavors of any dish you are making. It is also good grated over spätzle, a German type of pasta.
What should I drink with it?
Beer, of course! We recommend trying it with a German beer as you’ll get the full experience, but you can try it with your favorite drink as well. Some people even dip the cheese directly into their beer!
One final word of warning: make sure that you store this cheese, alone, in an airtight container. Its smell is so strong that otherwise, you run the risk of it permeating the other foods in your fridge.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our exploration of this strong cheese. If you are a beer lover, why not try our Beer Collection? It contains four different kinds of cheese chosen to pair with the strong flavors of beer and will serve around 20 guests, making it perfect for a tasting party!
Have you tried our Beer Cheese? Let us know how you like to enjoy it in the comments below!
We know that more and more people are trying to cut sugar out of their diet. You might have some health concerns and be trying to combat them with a low sugar diet. You might simply want to explore alternatives. Today we’re going to share with you some of our products which can help you to reduce sugar cravings whilst still enjoying balanced, healthy meals.
The first thing we would recommend is going to our Skinny Alternatives section. Here, you’ll find healthy cheeses, sugar-free chocolates, calorie-free dressings and a wide range of snacks.
Sugar Free Chocolate
We stock a wide range of sugar free chocolates including the Cashew Praline, Mint Meltaway, and Peanut Clusters. All of these deliver great taste and texture without the sugar so that you can enjoy a treat without worrying about your health.
Walden Farms: Sugar Free Syrups and Dips
We’re proud to stock Walden Farms products here at Shisler’s Cheese House. We stock their syrup in Blueberry, Chocolate, and Strawberry, as well as their pancake syrup. You can enjoy delicious syrup with no calories, fat, carbs, gluten or sugars of any kind. They are made with concentrated fruit extract and natural flavor. Enjoy them in a glass of milk, over ice cream, with fresh fruit or in a smoothie. Make yourself some easy sugar free pancakes and drizzle them with pancake syrup for an amazing healthy breakfast or dessert.
Our favorite sugar free batter recipe is to mix:
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Once you have a nice smooth batter, simply drop spoonfuls into a hot pan and then flip when you start to see air bubbles appearing. They’re quick and delicious!
Walden Farms also make calorie free dips in both chocolate and caramel flavor. The chocolate dip is made with premium natural cocoa beans, real chocolate, and other natural flavors, while the natural caramel flavor is great with slices of apple or pear.
As if that wasn’t enough, there is also a calorie free marshmallow dip! It is made with all natural vanilla flavor and is delicious with your favorite fruits, in a parfait, a smoothie, with yogurt, or as a topping on pudding or Jell-O. You’ll be spoilt for choice!
Walden Farms Calorie Free Salad Dressings
We’re also lucky enough to have a whole range of calorie free salad dressings, so you can avoid the hidden sugar that pops up even in savory dishes. Choose from a wide range of flavors including Ranch, Italian Sun Dried Tomato, and Honey Dijon. Just like the syrups, they have no calories, fat, carbs, gluten or sugars of any kind.
Try them drizzled over salads, as flavor in your sandwiches or as a marinade for grilled meats, fish or vegetables.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our exploration of our sugar free range. Hopefully, you found something to try this week. What are your favorite ways to reduce the sugar in your diet? Let us know in the comments below!
We wanted to wish all of our customers a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
Whether you’re celebrating love this week or taking some time to celebrate yourself, we wanted to share some ideas for making the day extra special.
We’ve created two fabulous gift boxes that are sure to hit the right note on February 14th.
Our Valentine’s Day All Chocolate Gift Box is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Inside you’ll find a Heggy’s Solid Milk Chocolate Heart, Chocolate Cheese, Heggy’s Milk Chocolate Turtles, and two kinds of chocolate covered fruit!
With this much chocolate packed in, your loved ones will be thinking of you for a long time.
Our Valentine’s Day Gift Box combines some of our favorite treats. Inside you’ll find Havarti Cheese, a Heggy’s Milk Chocolate Heart, Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl Fudge, Strawberry Caramel Creams and Yogurt Covered Cranberries.
This is the ideal gift if you’re preparing a special dinner and want to have cheese and sweet treats to complete the evening.
If these selections aren’t quite right for your loved ones, check out our huge range of gift boxes. You’re sure to find something that will help you demonstrate your love.
Now all that’s left to do is plan the perfect date night. Here are some ideas that we love!
1. Movie night
Whether you head out to the cinema or stay in with lots of blankets curled up on the sofa, watching a movie together is always fun. Choose a classic that you’ve seen before so that you two can reminisce about your first dates and make sure that you’ve got plenty of popcorn!
Grab some trail mix and head out for a hike. This is a great way to get to know your partner better, as you support each other to get to your destination. Take along a picnic for an even more romantic day.
3. Take a brewery or winery tour
This is a super fun way to spend an evening. Find a local brewery or winery that holds tours and head along. You’ll learn something new about how your favorite tipple is made and you might even get to try some samples along the way!
4. Take a cooking class
Instead of putting the pressure on one person to cook a stunning meal this Valentine’s Day, or booking a busy restaurant, why not head to a cooking class? You’ll be sure to have fun goofing around and you should get a great meal out of it at the end. If it’s a disaster, you can always grab a takeaway and file it away in your funny stories to tell the kids.
5. Go to a spa
The ultimate in relaxing dates, if you are both in need of some time out then book into a spa. Whether you try out the treatments on offer or simply sip champagne in the hot tub is up to you, but it’s always good to find time to relax.
However you are spending your Valentine’s Day, we hope that it is one filled with love!
If you have been interested to hear about Veganuary or wanted to learn more about veganism, you might want to start by learning about vegan wines!
What is Vegan Wine
Vegans exclude all animal products including meat, eggs and dairy products. Vegan wine is simply wine that has been produced without using any animal products. Some wines are not vegan will use animal products in the fining process, to remove impurities. Whilst these are not left in the wine that we drink, they will leave some residue behind, making them unsuitable for vegans.
The Winemaking Process
Wine is made by harvesting, crushing and pressing grapes to extract the juice. Sugar and yeast are used to ferment the juice, producing alcohol. The base wines undergo a fining process to remove any impurities and then the wine will be aged or bottled ready for sale. It is the fining process that introduces animal products into the wine. You can learn more about how wine is made in our blog post on the subject.
What Animal Products are Used in Wine?
The fining process binds together the impurities in the wine so that they can be removed. Some of the most common fining agents include:
- Egg whites (sometimes known as albumen)
- Gelatine (made from boiling animal parts)
- Isinglass (gelatine fish bladder)
- Casein (milk protein)
- Chitin (fiber from crustacean shells)
- Fish oil
- Blood and bone marrow
Alternative fining agents that are vegan include carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel, and vegetable plaques.
How to Tell If a Wine is Vegan or Vegetarian-Friendly
Many labels for wine do not include their ingredients or the ‘suitable for vegetarians/vegans’ label that you would expect to find on other groceries. Some wines will be labelled ‘unfiltered’ or ‘unfined’, so these will usually be vegan. One of the best ways to get hold of vegan wine is to ask for help at a wine store or even a supermarket. The staff will usually have a good knowledge of which winemakers do not use animal products when making wine. Online wine merchants often have a section for vegan wine so that you can be sure you’re buying what you need.
Have you ever tried the vegan diet? Let us know in the comments, we would love to hear your thoughts!
We know that lots of our customers are avid wine lovers, so today we thought we would give you a brief explanation of how wine is made. Next time you’re hosting a party or tasting a new wine, you’ll be sure to impress your friends with your knowledge!
Grapes are usually harvested in late summer and autumn. Wine grapes are often harvested at night because the temperature in the day can change the sugar composition of the grapes. This might affect the fermentation process. Sparkling wine grapes are harvested first to keep the sugar levels low, followed by white wine grapes and then red wine grapes which take longer to mature.
Whilst harvesting by hand allows selection of the best grapes and can protect against damage, many large vineyards will use mechanical harvesting as it can be quicker and cost-effective.
Crushing and Pressing the Grapes
Crushing the grapes bursts the skins so that the whole grape can be exposed to fermentation. This was historically done by stomping on the grapes with your feet. Now it is usually done by pushing the grapes through a machine. The crush gets the juices of the grapes flowing and allows this to come into contact with the skins. This is essential for red and rose wines but will be avoided for white and most sparkling wines.
The pressing separates the grape juice from the rest of the grape solids. Wineries may use a pneumatic press to make the juice drain out or use the weight of the grapes themselves to cause the juice to run.
Fermentation occurs when sugars and yeast are exposed to each other and it produces alcohol in wine. Crushing the grapes allows the natural sugar found inside to combine with the yeast on the skin. It might take place in stainless steel tanks, open plastic vats or wine barrels. The temperature is closely controlled to ensure that it does not get too high and kill the yeast.
Once fermented, the wine will be clarified to make it clear. The yeast sediment will be removed and a process of fining may take place. This involves adding a substance to collect and remove all of the unwanted particles in the wine. Fining agents include gelatine, isinglass (gelatine derived from fish), egg white, casein (a dairy protein), and bentonite (a clay).
Blending and Aging
The wine will be blended from the different grape varieties required as well as different plots within the vineyard to create the blend required. Some wines may have over 100 base wines blended together. Then the wine will move into the aging stage. Only some wines will benefit from significant aging, whilst others will be better when they are still young. This depends on the variety of grapes and the conditions in which they were grown.
Winemakers may choose to age the wine in the bottle. Alternatively, barrel aging may add flavor to the wine. Oak barrels, for example, can impart vanilla flavors and a silky texture to wines.
Wine is usually poured into bottles by a machine and then sealed with a cork. The corker vacuums the air out of the bottle to remove oxygen which might otherwise break down the wine.
We hope that you have learned some more about how wine is made. Got any questions? Let us know in the comments!
Did you know we offer a cheese collection specifically designed to pair with whisky? Our Scotch Collection includes generous portions of Danish Blue Cheese, Gruyere, Cheddar, and Parmesan.
We thought we would put together some top tips to help you choose a scotch, as we know it can be rather daunting when you are faced with a shelf full of options.
What is Scotch?
Scotch is whisky that is made in Scotland. It is mostly made from malted barley, in comparison to American bourbon whiskey which is distilled from corn.
You will often hear a whisky described as ‘peaty’. This means that peat, an accumulation of decaying plant matter, has been used to help malt the barley. It imparts a smoky flavor with rich, grassy qualities.
Some whiskies are sweeter and will have flavors of fruit, vanilla, or spices. Malt and honey might come through, or for the lightest scotch, you may even taste floral notes.
Regions of Scotland
There are four recognized regions for scotch to come from: Highland, Speyside, Islay, and Lowland. Whilst there are some characteristics typical of these regions, this is due to the work of the disChotillery, not the growing conditions in each location. So, unlike when selecting a wine, you don’t need to be as tied to seeking out bottles from specific locations.
Because the Highland region is so large, there is a lot of variation, but generally speaking the whiskies are spicier in the North, whilst they become sweeter in the South. Lowland Scotch is generally lighter and less peaty. Speyside distilleries tend to produce malty, sweet scotch, whilst Islay use the most peat, producing very smokey whiskies with a dry finish.
Choosing a Scotch for you
Of course, you need to decide which flavors you prefer when it comes to your drink. Seek advice from your local shops and tell them what you do and do not like so that they can find you a whisky that fits your preferred flavor profile.
If you’re just starting out trying scotch, then you might want to try a light coloured bottle that will have sweet flavors, rather than going for an extremely smoky finish straight away. However, if you know that you love the smoky taste then don’t let us stop you from enjoying it!
How much to spend
Generally speaking, this is a drink that gets more expensive if it is older. This is not only due to the process involved in aging the whisky, but because they are likely to be rarer bottles. Whilst it is absolutely not essential to choose a more expensive, aged bottle, you will find that cheaper whiskies may not have the smoothness or richness of a more prestigious pour. It’s also important to check that you are buying a single malt scotch, rather than a blended whisky.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and they help you to pick out your next bottle. Why not make an evening of it with our Scotch Collection? It can feed up to 20 guests so you’re sure to be able to put together a fun party.
What’s your favorite scotch? Let us know in the comments!