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The Foodie Column: FORMing cheese

As I explore restaurants, I’m a sucker for a good charcuterie plate. Generally found in the appetizer section of menu or on its own, charcuterie is technically a collection of cold, cooked or cured meats.

These are usually sliced thin and range across prosciutto, pancetta, soppressata or virtually any other meat that cured through cooking, smoking or curing.

While the name suggests meats only, cheeses are often an option  This devout cheesehead often makes cheese the centerpiece.

I occasionally compile a plate of cheeses and meats for Ms. TJ and I to enjoy for a light supper. Throw in something sweet (honey for drizzling or a fruit compote), something tart (sweet pickles like gherkins) a daub of grainy mustard, a few slices of apples, slices of crusty baguette and you’ve got a meal that’s beautiful to look at, tactile (these are very much finger foods) and delicious.

With some of my favorite cheeses entering double digits per pound, I headed to FORM where I knew Chef Claude would custom slice my selections tailored for two. Here’s what I came away with, pictured here clockwise from front center:

Savannah River Farms Pancetta is pork belly cured with a variety of herbs and spices. These very thin sliced rings of pork deliver spicy notes from black peppercorns, sweetness from brown sugar and a nice herbal undertone from rosemary and thyme. Pancetta is chewy and fatty — not to everyone’s taste. Find a place in your palate for it though and the reward is worth the effort.

Barely Buzzed from Beehive Cheese Co. in Utah is a Jersey cow’s milk cheese, dense and savory with a unique hand–rubbed crust of espresso and lavender. I enjoyed a glass of Vina Roble White 4 with my plate, but this particular cheese is delicious with bourbons, porters or ciders.

Cahills’s Farm Cheddar Cheese is made in Ireland. It is traditional cheddar that has been souped–up with the addition of Guinness from the Dublin brewery. It’s an eye–catching cheese that, like the beer, tastes much smoother than its dark color implies.

Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue was named one of the top 16 cheeses in the world at the 2012 World Cheese Awards in Birmingham, England. This silky blue is wrapped in grape leaves that have been macerated in pear brandy. This is an entirely local cheese in its native Oregon — the milk comes from pasture grazed Swiss Brown and Holstein cattle, the grape leaves from a nearby Syrah vineyard and the pear brandy from a local producer. Exquisite, expensive and worth every penny.

I also scored a Tribeca Oven baguette from FORM’s freezer. This par–baked bread gets crisped up in your home oven in 3–5 minutes. It was way better than bargain baguettes I usually find at local grocers — tender, flavorful and nicely crisp exterior.

FORM has evolved into a one–stop shop for foodies: Wines, gourmet coffees and sodas, cheeses, cured meats, bread and take–away foods. Of course, it’s the source of the light and delicious cheesecakes featured on several local restaurant menus.

1801 Habersham St., (912) 236–7642

Chinese New Year at The Noodle Bowl

Details are in and seats will go fast for this unique supper club setting. The Noodle Bowl will offer two seatings for Chinese New Year on Sunday, Feb. 10. A traditional Lion Dancing performance will take place at the midpoint of both seatings. Dinner times are 5–7 p.m. and 4–6 p.m. Cover charge (dinner is extra) is $15 for adults, $8 for children.

There is a minimum of four people per table, so if you’re a couple or a single, know that you will be seated with others. Reservations are required.

7054 Hodgson Memorial, (912) 692-1394

So long, Sammy

Sammy Greens, the little eatery on Abercorn Street that first brought us gourmet tacos and sliders, has closed. Sad, I loved the flavors these guys could pack into a dish.