Philadelphia, the birthplace of scrapple, cheesesteaks, soda pop, and hoagies, is being invaded by a new food. Coming to our metro area via a food truck with distinctive graphic artistry on it are fried cheese curds, thanks to a new business, The Cow and the Curd.
What's a Cheese Curd?
Well, for starters, it's not a cheese curl. Cheese curds are the fresh, unprocessed soft lumps of cheese before they are gathered up and pressed into a solid shape, such as a cheese wheel. When a fair amount of liquid (whey) has been separated out of the curds, the curds have a consistency similar to cottage cheese. Cheese is made from the curds by placing them in a mold and allowing the curds to age. Rather than processing the curds into cheese, the fine folks at The Cow and the Curd have developed a variety of batters, infusions, and sauces for their cheese curds, all to delight the palates of Philadelphians.
Where did cheese curds come from? While cheese has been around for centuries, the culinary obsession with cheese curds eaten as they are or battered and fried comes to us from the heartland of America -- the Midwest. More specifically, in this case, from Wisconsin, where fried cheese curds are considered a traditional treat.
Fried cheese curds are frequently sold at fairs and carnivals, just as we are used to seeing hot dogs, cotton candy, and funnel cake being sold. In this case, we have Laura and Robert Mitchell, owners of The Cow and the Curd, as well as Stella Jeanne's Carnival Concessions Inc., to thank for bringing this Midwestern food to us.
Upcoming Varieties for Philly
There is a great deal of variation to be found in battered fried cheese curds. The batter and/or the cheese curds may have flavors add to them. Some flavor variations, according to Rob Mitchell, are garlic, jalapeno pepper, berry-infused, and dill, for example. Add to that variations in the accompanying sauces, such as chipotle ranch or honey mustard, and you have practically unlimited combinations. The folks at The Cow and the Curd are looking into meat infusions, as well, such as burrito- or Philly cheesesteak-flavored curds. And they are continually perfecting their cheese curd recipes, too, making the curds primarily from white cheddar curds, as well as yellow cheddar. Muenster cheese curds may be next.
While The Cow and the Curd's truck isn't yet roaming the Philadelphia streets on a daily basis -- they're instead focusing on becoming known in our area through special event appearances -- they do have a list of events where they'll be online.