Better Butter

Recent correspondence with tsogb sparked by Susan’s meal at Manresa started me thinking about a new type of party I have yet to explore. I’ve recently hosted a few wine tasting parties, which have all degenerated into drinking binges despite best efforts to create tasting flights. Quite often, many are on the Syrah before I’ve even finished pouring the Roussanne. And since most of these parties are on Fridays to accommodate everyone else’s busy weekend schedules, we usually go the cheese and bread option to line the stomach. In LA, this is also not the financially-wise menu, with the average small piece of cheese costing anywhere from $6 to $20. Oh for a Tesco selection of cheap and cheerfuls. While we don’t begrudge sharing our favourite luxuries with our labs, populated by equally financially-challenged grad students and post-docs, the last round really wiped us out (physically too). Add to that the whisky “tasting” and cocktail nights, and I’m all tuckered out carting heavy bottles of alky around town. The next big party has to be a little lighter on all fronts. Bring forth: the butter tasting party.

My favourite butter of the moment is from Isigny Ste Mère, also home to one of my favourite hard snacking cheeses – the Mimolette. It has a crisp quality with a hint of salt that doesn’t overwhelm. And my first taste of it following an impulse purchase¹ a decade ago was a revelation. Wow, butter can be more than just fat in baking. And it doesn’t have to be the semi-melted parcel found in most restaurant bread baskets to be eaten as is. My butter tastes have not developed much since then, but perhaps the time has come to enlighten my fatty tastebuds and try some other butters out

Courtesy of Santos: the ultimate butter page. I can see I have a long way to go. Of the butters listed, I’ve only knowingly had a few: Lurpak (my mother’s baking butter), Kerrygold (my baking butter in the UK), Anchor (the butter of my childhood ‘cos it was slightly cheaper than Lurpak – the preserve of baking), the Devonshire, Isigny, and Échiré². Of American butters, I have to confess to only using pasturised, unsalted butter from Horizon, the Whole Foods and Trader Joes own brands, mainly for baking. There is a whole unexplored world of butter out there, beckoning us with globules of pristine saturated fat.

My next party just has to be butter-themed. But how many will accept the invitation?

¹ When I first realised that shopping in Sainsbury’s was not necessarily going to kill my bank account. Oh boy was I wrong!² I think it was the Beurre Échiré we had at the Ludo Bites evening, but I may be wrong.


2 thoughts on “Better Butter

  1. i’d go! although butter=fat≠los angelenos, so it might be a hard sell. anchor is one of the only butters that is sold here; lately it has been kinda…weird. is it because it’s summer production?

    when i’m back in la, i admit, i don’t usually buy anything local for general non-baking purposes. i usually pick up a slab of delitia parmigiano reggiano butter which is made from the cream leftover from cheese production in italy, and goat milk butter, which has some of the chevre sharpness, but because of the lower fat content, it doesn’t seem as waxy or heavy. don’t recall the name of the brand i usually buy, but it’s a very cheesy (no pun intended) label. v. ’70s.

    you can try a bacon party. for some reason, bacon is exempt from any scorn in los angeles.

  2. my mouth is watering just thinking about a butter tasting!!! i still dream about the ludo bites butter & bread days. yum. i wanna come!

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