When in Doubt, Eat Cheese (While the Surf + Turf Grill)

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”

– Charles de Gaulle


It’s Thursday night. “Farmer Greg” is soon to arrive home from the hospital. It’s another late night for him, preceding six straight days and nights of surgery call. I know the next week will be rough for him. So, I break out the cheese – the ideal elixir for any long day. Currently, we have about 15 varieties of cheese on hand. How to choose?

In the end, Sottocenere al Tarfuto (al Tarfuto the Italian for “with truffles”) and twelve-month aged Manchego are the victorious finalists that make the plate. Italy vs. Spain, or maybe Cow vs. sheep. The two fromage dual it out in the final round. The Manchego is hard and slightly salty, boasting a lovely, sweet taste of sheep’s milk. The cow’s milk Sottocenere is creamy and rich, highlighted by the savory, delicate flavor of truffles. A tie is called; each fromage is ridiculously decadent and palette-pleasing in a unique way. Please, never make us choose just one cheese when we can have two.


Above, twelve-month aged Manchego (left) and Sottocenere Al Tarfuto (Right)

An inexpensive but delicious Bordeaux is uncorked for the “Chef” and a Octoberfest Lager is opened for “Farmer Greg.” Mozart is streaming on Spotify; fresh, crusty bread is ready to be torn and devoured. I embark on roasting garlicky vegetables, citrus-infused salmon and grilling marinated steaks. Thank goodness we have lovely fromage to pale our appetites while the cooking ensues.

Cheese and wine – and most importantly, great company – are in my presence. Cooking. Wine. Cheese. Music. My Love.

A perfect night.

A short thirty minutes later, the meal is ready. Which of the two proteins prepared tonight is the favorite to win? Shall wild salmon swim away with the title, or will grass-fed beef tenderloin run through the pastures in victory? Make both of the simple, twenty-minute recipes and decide which is your favorite.


For the lemon-rosemary salmon, above, a most simple preparation is used.


For lemon-Rosemary Salmon, a one-pound fillet is rubbed with garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil and well-seasoned with salt and pepper. Then, it is sprinkled with fresh rosemary and lemon juice. Next, a scattering of sliced onions around the fish, then another generous drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of salt for the onions.

The fish is ready to bake away. After a simple twelve minutes of roasting in a 400 degree oven, the salmon flakes with a fork. It’s ready. As the Italians say, Buon Appetito!


The red miso-glazed steak, above, is a crowd-pleaser.


For red-miso glazed tenderloin, four (four to six ounce) grass feed fillets of beef are marinated in 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup red miso glaze, two tablespoons fresh lime juice, one teaspoon fresh, chopped garlic and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. The beef is marinated for as little or as long as desired – fifteen minutes or overnight.

A grill pan is heated to medium high and the steaks are cooked about four minutes a side for medium rare. The steaks are glazed with the remaining miso marinade before they are flipped. Other than this, the steaks are not moved, not bothered, simply allowed to grill in all their glory. Finally, the steaks are placed on a plate and covered lightly with foil until ready to serve. That’s it, folks. As they say in Spain, ¡Buen provecho!

Now, we commence eating more cheese. After all, it is often served as a dessert course in France, no?


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©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.


19 thoughts on “When in Doubt, Eat Cheese (While the Surf + Turf Grill)

  1. Sottocenere al Tarfuto is a fabulous cheese. I can’t do dairy anymore but I love to read about cheese. There’s nothing like it. “Please, never make us choose just one cheese when we can have two.” HA! I accuse you of being a cheese-head, which is pretty cool, actually.

    I’m confused (sleep deprivation). Did you do a surf and turf, beef and fish, as well?

    Now, I’m off to work. Yes, working straight through for three weeks. I’m Dr GregRINA. Have a superb weekend.

    1. Certain dairy can be easier to digest than other, based on your issue… A life without cheese is a scary thought. 😉
      The cheese held us over while the meal was cooked… this entry is more of a story of the night, revolving around cheese, sweet cheese. Hence the surf and turf. I am certainly I a proud cheesehead. I once worked at a large speciality store that sold 300 types of cheese. Yes, I was a cheese monger! I was able – even required – to try each fromage we sold. Heaven.
      Have a great weekend! Make sure you try to get some good rest between all the work. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by the blog, as always. 🙂

      1. Hi Shanna, the miso glaze sounds great and you just made me crave cheese! I’ve never had “sottocenere” cheese. It means “under ashes”, which is probably what the crust was made of. A large specialty store that sold 800 types of cheese. Wow. What hardship to have to sample all of them 😉
        Anyway, it was about time I visited your blog so here I am and I like what I see!

      2. Hi, Stefan. Thank you for your warm and generous comments. I don’t know a lot – but I do know that I love cheese. 🙂 My understanding is that Sottocenere is under the ashes of truffles – the rind is edible and oh-so delicious. I am quite glad that you stopped by and hope that you have a bite (or twenty) of amazing cheese as soon as humanly possible! Fromage Forward! Preferably with great vino. 😉

      3. For me it’s interesting that you refer to cheese with a French word and to wine with an Italian word 🙂 Don’t tell this to the French or the Italians by the way, but some French cheese goes very well with Italian cheese, and vice versa 😉

      4. Ha! I love it! The Italians and the French get along well on the plate… I agree! 🙂 I have even been known to enjoy a pairing of a French Cheese and Italian wine. Oy vey!

        I suppose that being an American, I am simply (and quite sillily!) impressed with myself when I know the name of a wine or cheese in any other language than English or Spanish (the only languages that I speak!).

  2. So, if I ever have any questions about cheese, I turn to you for advice. I was salivating imagining your description about cheese. 🙂 Sounds like a great night with your wonderful family. The salmon looks delicious. 🙂

  3. On our first night in Spain, we ordered a cheese platter that included aged manchego, young manchego, and manchego with rosemary. i’ve only found the rosemary one once since then. if you can find it, try it. you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven!!!

    1. IT IS SO FUNNY THAT YOU SAY THIS! I found the rosemary Manchego at a very obscure market recently – I will buy it this Thursday when I return there. Thanks for the tip! I feel in love with cheese with I lived in Spain. A cured Manchego is just heaven,no? That cheese platter sounds blissful.

  4. Haha I love your saying by Charles de Gaulle, I had heard it before, and yes every time I visit France and walk into a cheese shop I am in heaven 🙂 I love your descriptions of these cheeses. Yes, one good thing about being with French Mr. H, is that after dinner we’ll sometimes continue with cheese!
    PS take a look at my first ever post: http://papayapieces.com/2013/01/17/welcome-to-papaya-pieces-2/ I know you’ve word in a cheese place so what do you think 😉

    1. Hi, Sofia –
      Thank you so much for your visit! We are kindred fromage spirits. How lovely that you are marrying a Frenchman. The French know their fine cheeses! I adore have a cheese plate for dessert – oh, how lovely that you two can enjoy cheese together. Off to your blog now to read about my beloved fromage. Take good care!
      xx Shanna

      1. Hi Shanna, you are such a romantic. You see the ironic thing is that even though he does love cheese, I definitely beat him in loving cheese even more intensely 😉

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