Here’s an interesting tidbit that caught my attention this week: the USA Today reports that while smoking cigarettes may no longer be cool, smoking cocktails is extremely hot.

Apparently, “pyro-inclined mixologists on both coasts are smoking ingredients — liquor, mixers, even glassware — over aromatic woods such as cherry or apple to add a robust dimension to fall/winter drinks. At Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco, bartenders smoke rum or brandy over cherrywood chips, mix the liquor into a cocktail and serve the drink in a glass that has been inverted over a lit wood chip. Across town at Bacar, full-bodied whiskey is smoked in-house over applewood, then mixed with pineapple juice, lemon juice and house-made sassafras simple syrup.”

Alrighty then. This makes me ponder that perhaps we should creating a smoking cheese.

Oh wait, somebody already beat me to it: it’s called Juustalepia, a specialty cheese with Finnish and Swedish origins. The name Juustalepia (HOOstah-lee-pah) translates as “bread cheese,” an apt description since its appearance and aroma is similar to toasted bread.

Its characteristic sweet caramel crust is produced through a slow baking process and its unique flavor is most pronounced when served warm. It can be heated in the oven, microwaved or grilled.

Several Wisconsin companies are making their own versions of Juustaleipa, including:

  • Brunkow Cheese, Darlington, Wis. — they call theirs “Brun-uusto”
  • Carr Valley Cheese, LaValle, Wis. — they call it “Bread Cheese”
  • K&K Cheese, Cashton, Wis. — they call it “Juusto”
  • Bass Lake Cheese, Somerset, Wis. — they break it into two words: “Juusto Leipa”

So the next time you’re thinking about smoking a cocktail, stick some cheese in your frying pan to go with it!