Do you know quark? Not the subatomic particle, but the German cheese (which appears to have been the indirect inspiration for the name of the particle). I first encountered it in Austria, where it is called topfen. It looks like cream cheese, but it is a bit drier (almost chalky) and not as flavorful. Still, it is one of my favorite treats on my trips to central Europe. I spread it on toasted bread, then top it off with strawberry jam, but quark is also used as an ingredient in many German desserts.
The W$J mentions quark in an article on German cuisine, "Another typically German product, quark, a soft white cheese often made in the U.S., is appearing in chefs' recipes in place of cream cheese." The article quotes Chef Marcel Biró, who has an upscale German restaurant called Biró in Sheboygan.
I feel the sudden need for a road trip!
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1. Posted by Will Baude on October 16, 2005 @ 8:02 | Permalink
The Vermont Butter and Cheese company also sells their version of Quark in American supermarkets. It is a little less chalky and a little bit tangier, but it can help to assuage an addiction.
2. Posted by Gordon Smith on October 16, 2005 @ 20:25 | Permalink
Thanks, Will. I will have to see if Whole Foods can get me some. Still, I like to have a few things that I can get only by visiting Europe. It gives me an excuse to keep going back.
3. Posted by Kate Litvak on October 16, 2005 @ 20:58 | Permalink
You know people are true gourmands when they are wistfully sharing memories about some chalky, unflavorful, cream-cheesy substance – and you know they are serious!
4. Posted by Christine on October 17, 2005 @ 9:08 | Permalink
Gordon, I thought you meant you felt a road trip to Sheboygan coming on, not Europe. I like Sheboygan, too. Mostly I just like to say Sheboygan. Sheboygan.
5. Posted by Gordon Smith on October 17, 2005 @ 12:27 | Permalink
Yes, Christine, I was talking about Sheboygan, though I would be happy to go to Europe, too.
6. Posted by Plainsman on October 17, 2005 @ 13:07 | Permalink
Wallse, Kurt Gutenbrunner's fine nouveau-Austrian joint in the Village (NYC), used to offer a quark dumpling for dessert that was a delight.
7. Posted by Greg on October 17, 2005 @ 18:21 | Permalink
My Swiss wife insists that we cannot have either fondue (Gruyere, Emmenthaler and Appenzell ONLY) or Raclette without quark as a side dish (she usually mixes in chives, as I recall).
8. Posted by Varangy on October 17, 2005 @ 19:38 | Permalink
Until you've tasted this quark-filled (túró) delicacy --- you do not know quark.
Slightly sour túró is usually best as a component in sweet, not savory dishes.