The Good: Melts well, Does not taste bad
The Bad: Comparatively expensive, Does not taste like mint at all, Becomes harder to work with after it is unwrapped.
The Basics: Sartori Peppermint BellaVitano is a limited edition Sartori cheese that does not deliver a mint flavor to augment the delightful cheese flavor.
With my recent trip with my wife to Minnesota and Wisconsin done, I have been enjoying the many things we brought back with us. For me, one of the highlights of our travel was stopping at the Sartori plant in Antigo, Wisconsin, where we were able to get several cheeses we are not otherwise able to find. Easily the cheese I was most excited to pick up was the Sartori Limited Edition Peppermint BellaVitano. I absolutely love mint and chocolate mint things. The idea of a cheese augmented by peppermint was very appealing to me.
Unfortunately, this is one of the rare flavors of Sartori cheeses that does not actually embody the promised flavors. Sold at their Antigo production plant for $5 for the 8 oz. package, this is not an inexpensive cheese, but for a limited edition flavor it would have been very fairly priced . . . had it lived up to its flavor.
Sartori is a manufacturer of premium cheeses in Wisconsin. The intent of most Sartori cheeses is that they will be cheeses that hold their own as snacks that may be served to consumers in fancier settings. Sartori specializes in intriguing cheeses that have different flavors infused into them, like merlot, espresso, chai and black pepper. Sartori cheeses come in blocks that are premeasured, at least for the Sartori Peppermint BellaVitano cheese. Unfortunately, of all the Sartori cheeses I have tried, the Peppermint BellaVitano is the only one that has not come even close to the flavors Sartori promised. I just wish there had been another flavor that had been the company’s first disappointment for me!
The Peppermint BellaVitano cheese is much more like a plain BellaVitano cheese than anything special. This is a solid white cheese with a pink outer edge that seems to be where the peppermint flavor is supposed to be. There seems to be no real difference between the flavor of the main block and the pink outer edge. Sartori Peppermint BellaVitano cheese in packaged in a simple plastic wrap and is hard enough to maintain its shape when cut open.
Ease Of Preparation
Sartori Peppermint BellaVitano cheese is a cheese, so more often than not, it is used on its own or as an ingredient in a recipe. Preparation of the cheese is pretty simple; cut the plastic away and slice the cheese! Unfortunately, this is a cheese that has very variable workability. The first time I opened the packaged and sliced the Sartori Peppermint BellaVitano cheese, it was very easy to work with, like a mild cheddar. My cheese plane easily sliced through the block repeatedly, including the outer edge. After the first day I used it, the Peppermint BellaVitano became very difficult to work with. The Peppermint BellaVitano fractured instead of slicing nicely, which made for a “use it or lose it” feel to the cheese, which (frankly) is not what one wants out of a premium cheese, especially a limited edition one.
When the cheese is sliced, it melts beautifully with wonderful evenness and liquidity, making it easy to used as an ingredient to make flavorful omelets or to replace cheddar cheese in dishes like macaroni and cheese. While on its second day of being opened it had a grainy quality to it (as if it had tiny crystals in it) even when melted, it still melted fairly well and augmented dishes well.
The Peppermint BellaVitano smells exclusively like sharp cheddar cheese. Even as the Peppermint BellaVitano nears room temperature, there is no hint of mint in the scent. For those hoping for the blending of mint and cheese flavors, the scent that the Peppermint BellaVitano cheese does not hint at anything like a balance of those flavors.
In the mouth, the Peppermint BellaVitano tastes like an extra sharp cheddar cheese, crisp and slightly sour. This BellaVitano becomes surprisingly more muted after the initial bite. After the first bite or two, the Peppermint BellaVitano tastes less like a sharp shedder and more like a firm Mozzarella. The flavor is saltier and the cheese is more solid than a Mozzarella, but essentially the flavor is similar. This does not wow the taste buds the way other Sartori cheeses do. There is not even a hint of peppermint in the flavor of the Peppermint BellaVitano, no matter what temperature the cheese is at.
Melted into or onto something like an omelet or a burger, the Peppermint BellaVitano cheese melts well. Unfortunately, temperature does not bring out the peppermint flavor in the Peppermint BellaVitano. In fact, there seems to be no combination of heat or pairing that brings out anything resembling mint with this cheese. In omelets, on burgers, in grilled cheese, nothing seems to bring out anything but a sharp cheddar flavor. There is no mint in the flavor palate when the cheese is on its own or as a component ingredient.
On its own, the Sartori Peppermint BellaVitano cheese leaves a sour flavor on the tongue for a minute or two after it is consumed. The aftertaste fades pretty quickly, though.
Sartori Cheeses are good, but not enough to meet all of one’s nutritional needs. The Peppermint BellaVitano cheese is not incredibly healthy, though their cheeses have decent ingredients. A serving size of the Peppermint BellaVitano is considered a one inch block (1 oz.). In that, there are 120 calories, 90 of which are from fat. This cheese has 25% of one's daily recommended saturated fat intake and 7% of the RDA of sodium. On the plus side, it does have 18% of the RDA of calcium and has seven grams of protein.
Obviously, Peppermint BellaVitano cheese is a dairy product, so those who are lactose intolerant will have problems with it. This cheese is made primarily of BellaVitano cheese and crushed peppermint candy, though for the life of me I could not find any evidence of peppermint candy in my block of cheese!
As a cheese, Sartori Peppermint BellaVitano cheese should be kept refrigerated. So long as that happens, it ought to stay fresh for several weeks. I am utterly unable to write about shelf-life as our 8 oz block was gone within two days of being opened! So long as it is kept in an airtight, cold environment, it ought to remain fresh. Our package bought in mid-September had an expiration date of December 23, 2014.
Peppermint BellaVitano is a cheese, so it is not going to stain or ruin anything unless it is ground into a fabric. Baring that, cleanup of nonporous surfaces is as easy as wiping them with a damp cloth.
Sartori Peppermint BellaVitano cheese is only a failure because it promises flavors it does not deliver upon. As a BellaVitano cheese, it is fine, but because it is supposed to be infused with peppermint flavoring and does not carry that flavor, it is the first true, substandard Sartori product I’ve tried.
For other Sartori cheese reviews, please check out my reviews of:
Black Pepper BellaVitano
For other cheese and meat reviews, please visit my Meat And Cheese Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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