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May 27, 2001 01:16 PM

Baltic cheese

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Like an apparition, unsuspected at first, I tasted a package of cheese curds bought from the Amish stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday. They are familiar and usually chewy, like industrial mozzarella, salty, great for melting in chili and with sourdough toast. This packet had smaller nuggets, was creamier, less salty, remarkably fresh. The flavor and texture were identical to the cheese I encountered on a clandestine trip into Birzai, Lithuania in 1990 (then closed to foreigners). This was the cheese of family legend, the accompaniment to the black bread which my father and his family consumed at the rate of one pound per person each day. Yet to have this taste emerge here was an epiphany. I urge all of you, especially those of Eastern-European Jewish descent, to try this, a genuine relic of authentic Lithuanian cuisine.
On the other hand, it might be attributable to a batch made in haste and next week's packets will be merely ordinary nuggets. Perhaps we can ask the Amish which change occured and hope for more such accidents.

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  1. Sounds very tasty. Is there only ONE Amish stand at the Union Sq. market? My usual encounters with cheese curds has been unexciting -- too rubbery and bland. But your discovery sounds wonderful. Please be more specific, if you can -- I'm not often in that area, but will surely check it out when I am! Thanks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alice

      There is but one Amish stand. This variant cheese might have been: too fresh, someone new making it, new approach. Hope it continues.