Thursday, February 2, 2012

Boulevard is making quark

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Quark with the fixins

Every Wednesday and Sunday, Boulevard Bread Co.'s cheesemaker Blair Graves preps a new batch of quark — a creamy yogurt-like pan cheese. Boulevard sells the stuff in its fridge cases at all its locations, alongside the house-made yogurt, for $4.95 for six-ounces, and for an additional $2 you can have it outfitted for breakfasting with cinnamon apple chunks and some homemade granola.

Graves said quark was a cafe staple during her time on the west coast, and she decided to provide it to the Little Rock community as a unique yogurt substitute. But, despite the chemical similarities, as she explains, quark is actually more versatile than your average yogurt cup.

First of all, quark is rich and opaque. If you're a consumer of the whole-milk varieties of organic yogurt (especially Stonyfield Farms and Brown Cow brands), then you might be familiar with the concept of the "cream top": an inches-thick layer of extra-dense smooth curd that is so rich having more than two spoonfuls feels decadent. Quark has a consistency identical to this, except a sourish taste more reminiscent of creme fraiche or sour cream. For this reason, it can be flavored with honey or maple syrup and served as a sweet snack, or used in a savory capacity as a sour cream or even a cream cheese substitute. Graves said she recently used a dollop of quark to complement a potato soup. She also says that it's been a popular item among Boulevard's Eastern European customers who often use it as cream cheese replacement in cheesecake recipes.

Don't be intimidated by the tartness — after all, plain, unsweetened yogurt itself is pretty tangy. Because the $4.95 portion is a bit large for one sitting, I used the remaining quark in a smoothie (just like I would yogurt) and it provided a thicker, smoother consistency — more like a hearty milkshake — definitely a delicious change of pace from the way yogurt too easily thins out and liquefies.

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