Friday, September 23, 2011

Karoun Dairy Products: Award-winning Mediterranean Cheeses and Yogurts


Karoun means “spring” in Armenian - a fitting name for a dairy company. Think of rolling hills, gentle rain, and green pastures, then visualize cows, goats, and sheep grazing in those fields.


According to TV commercials, California’s cows are happy cows, so, naturally, they’d produce the best milk and cheese products. Perhaps this is why Karoun dairy products are so good – it’s located in glorious California.


Karoun Dairies, founded in 1992, was a dream of the Baghdassarian family. After Anto Baghdassarian emigrated to California from Lebanon, he realized that no local stores offered a full line of Mediterranean dairy products, so the family set out to change that. Rostom Baghdassarian, Anto’s son and Chief Operating Officer of the company, has taken Karoun Dairies to new heights making product adjustments as food and diet trends change.


What makes this company unique is that their products are handmade with fresh, natural ingredients, combining traditional recipes with modern technology.


Their hard work paid off. Karoun Dairies received the 2011 Business of the Year Award from the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, so you know they’re doing something right!



Karoun Dairy Products
 TheArmenianKitchen.com received a complementary assortment of Karoun products to sample. We were delighted to find 3 kinds of Armenian string cheese, packages of grilling cheeses, feta and basket cheese, containers of madzoon (yogurt), and labne.


With the help of friends Bonnie Gross and her husband, David Blasco, plus various dinner guests, we’ve been plowing through the Karoun products to share our opinions with you.


First, and foremost, every single product was extremely fresh.


The twisted cheeses - plain, with herbs, and with caraway seeds, were a favorite at breakfast as well as an appetizer served with olives and pita bread. Each variety had a pleasing taste and proper texture – that is to say, not rubbery or mushy.


The feta with olives, peppers and herbs – along with the plain basket cheese, were served two ways - on crackers, and crumbled into omelets. Each was mild, with a pleasing, lightly salted quality. The cheeses had a unique characteristic in that they produced a slight squeak on your teeth while biting into it.


The plain and jalapeño-studded grilling cheeses came in 8-oz. chunks. These were sliced thinner and made into incredible grilled cheese sandwiches. Unlike mozzarella cheese, the grilling cheeses hold up well under high heat. They soften without getting stringy, and make a wonderful sandwich with the addition of roasted peppers, tomato slices, and fresh basil.


The yogurts were served in several ways: as an accompaniment to dolma; as tahn, a yogurt drink; as an ingredient in other recipes, such as brownies and Spicy Yogurt Cake.


Labne, with its rich, creamy texture, made a superb appetizer spread. This was my favorite with its outstanding flavor and texture – so decadent and extremely satisfying! Warning: A little labne goes a long way!


Bonnie’s feedback: “The yogurts had a mild, pleasing taste.
We tried the fried cheese last night.  Yummy. I think it would make a great appetizer with crackers.
So far, we've tried the string cheese with herbs, which was yummy and both kinds of yogurt. I liked the yogurt a lot -- it seemed rich and thick without much fat and had a very pleasant flavor (not sour.)”


Hopefully, I’ve whet your appetite for Karoun Dairy products; you can find out more about them on their website. To purchase their products, check out your local Whole Foods or The Fresh Market stores, as well as other grocers across the U.S.


Happy Eating!





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