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NY Cork Report Cheeseboard

February 9, 2012

This weekend marks the annual “Wine of the Year” event at the NY Cork Report.  The regional wine, beer (and cheese) editors come from far and wide to blindly taste the nominations made in each category.  It’s always good to get together with other like-minded people to eat, drink, and share.

I don’t submit any nominations or categories for NY cheese of the year.  It doesn’t seem to fit in this instance.  Cheesemakers constantly tweak their recipes from year to year depending on the season, the quality of the milk, etc… A particular growing season has a profound affect on wine, but doesn’t really apply in the cheese world.  In my opinion.  Some may disagree, and I welcome the discourse, but it doesn’t seem to fit in this case.

So rather than select a single cheese at the exclusion of others, I use this weekend to introduce the others to some cheeses and makers that they aren’t familiar with.  I will have some additional posts based on the weekend, as well as the reaction to the cheeses from the pic.

See anything you recognize?

C’est Cheese

January 23, 2012

It has been a while since I have posted anything more from lack of time than anything else.  I aim to change that in 2012 as best I can.  Cheese is still a big part of my life, regardless if I have devoted time to write about it or not.  My plans for the early part of this year include more blogging, a return to cheesemaking, and farm visits once again.

In order to kick off this year, I visited a shop on Long Island just minutes away from our friend’s house where we were visiting.

Artisanal cheese has made its way to the forefront of the local food movement. Farmstead cheesemakers elevate the milk from their farms, and the rock star cheesemonger expounds upon the history, the background, and unique qualities of that particular cheese. So what is the best way to accomplish this?

Specialty cheese shops are all over New York City and surrounding areas to bring a piece of the farm to your table, but is that enough to distinguish one shop from another? If the quality of the product is essentially the same across the board, and the level of care is (in a good shop) similar as well, then what sets one shop apart from another?

You can read the rest of my post here.

Your Ultimate Guide to Pairing Beer and Cheese

December 2, 2011

I am at my happiest when I have wedge of cheese and cool beer in hand.  For my money, this pairing speaks to me above and beyond the classic wine and cheese.  I realize that this classic pairing is romanticized as the end all be all, but beer and cheese is where it is at people.

Some say the best match for cheese is wine. We say those people are probably the ones who thought Buttercup should’ve stuck with Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride.

Beer and cheese is where it’s at, folks and with the holidays approaching, you may want to treat your guests and family to this killer combination. But pairing is always a challenge, and you may be asking yourselves, “But doesn’t all beer go with all cheese? Aren’t they both delicious and snackable? Why should I care about specific pairings?”

As your friendly Cork Report beer and cheese editors, we are here to demonstrate the awesome power of a fantastic beer and cheese match with a list of must-try ideas. Julia’s well versed in the classic beer and cheese matchups, but with Aaron’s off-the-hook cheese expertise are are also able to suggest more adventurous matches too. Of course, we list New York examples of all beers and mostly New York cheeses, though we did include a few out-of-state cheeses for educational purposes and diversity’s sake.

Here is the rest of this jointly written post for the NYCR: Your Ultimate Guide to Pairing Beer and Cheese

Sprout Creek Farm: Redux

November 17, 2011

It’s obviously been a while since I have put a post up.  Feels good to write again so hopefully I can find time to do it more often.  This piece for the NYCR focuses on a revisit to the cheeses from Sprout Creek Farm.  The last time that I officially tasted their cheeses, I left with mixed results.  In the end, I more or less attributed it to improper storage and cheese care at the shop I purchased from.  I am glad that I had an opportunity not only to taste again, but also discuss some of the finer points of technique with the cheesemaker.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the annual Taste of the Hudson Valley. Each year, local restaurants and artisans are given the opportunity to shine as they pair a couple of dishes with wine, beer, or other beverages of their choosing. The event is always well-attended as ticket holders move from table to table, chat with local chefs, sip wine, and comment on the successfulness of a particular pairing.

It’s a great time, but the purpose of this post is not to talk about the use of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, butternut squash soup, or local wine and beer. This cheese geek found the Sprout Creek Farm table, and I was anxious to chat with the cheesemaker to delve a bit deeper behind the scenes.

You can read the rest of my post for the NYCR here.

The Role of “Affinage ” in Making Great Cheese.

October 5, 2011

Just wanted to point out this story in the NY Times about the role of the “affineur”.  Is the quality of cheese really affected that much once the wheel is on the shelf?  Does all of that brushing and flipping and washing really impart anything noticeable?

ROB KAUFELT and Brian Ralph were standing in a cool underground bunker below Murray’s Cheese Shop in Greenwich Village, giving a visitor a tour of five temperature-and humidity-controlled cheese caves.  The man-made chambers, they said, prevent many of the things that can go wrong with cheese when it is not handled properly.

Take slipskin. If a mold-ripened cheese is stored in a place that is too humid or warm, the mold that coats the outside can “grow very aggressively,” said Mr. Ralph, 26, the cave manager at Murray’s. “It gets thicker and thicker and it peels away from the paste.”

Or if Cheddar is ripened carelessly, he said, “sometimes it can turn sulfuric, kind of rotten-eggy.”

Mr. Kaufelt, who has owned Murray’s since 1991, said, “If it’s too dry, it can crack.”

On the surface, the conversation might seem like a mere collection of scary stories about good cheese gone bad. But underneath it all, the two men were offering a glimpse into a topic that inspires both evangelical zeal and scoffing among hard-core fanatics of fromage.

 You can read the rest of the Times article here.  What do you think? Does it make a difference?

The State of New York Cheese

September 13, 2011

Photo courtesy of the New York Cheese Manufacturers' Association

Ever since I started writing about NY Cheese for the NYCR, my interest in cheese culture from region to region has grown. How does the cheese made in NY differ from that made in VT, WI, CA, etc…  Is there a difference?  I think so.  Wisconsin is generally regarded as this nation’s “Dairy State”.  Vermont is considered by many as the ‘Napa Valley of Cheese”.  Where does New York fit into this?  As I became more entrenched in the cheese scene and culture here, more and more questions cropped up as I investigated.

“Change is difficult.  If it were easy, then everyone and everything would be perfect…”  I have heard these words (or some variation) many times throughout my life as I am sure that many of you have as well.   Making changes is a way of life for us as we strive to learn, grow, and succeed.  Now you are probably asking yourself why the Cheese Editor is waxing philosophical at the top of a post but I assure you; this speaks directly to the state of New York cheese.

For years, New York has been one of the top 5 producers of milk in this country.   Beautiful grass makes for happy cows and plenty of good milk.  Dairy farming and industrial cheese has historically been a major factor for the NY dairy-farming industry.  Years ago, this was the way of life upstate.  Dairy farms produced milk and sold it to large milk buying cities such as Manhattan.  Farming was a way of life by which the men and women working could provide for their families and live out a hard-working, yet comfortable life.

You can read the rest of my post for the NYCR here.

The Hurricane Care Package Courtesy of Point Reyes

September 1, 2011

The benefits from being a member of the Culture Tasting Panel for Point Reyes continues to provide benefits.  As my wife and I made preparations for Irene, I received a package from Point Reyes Cheese with yet another wedge for us to sample:

This past week I found myself making list after list with anything and everything that one might need in preparation for a hurricane. This is not something that my fellow New Yorkers and I have to typically think about. Ordinarily, I would dismiss the hype from the media, make a couple of sarcastic remarks about buying a month’s supply of bread and milk, and then go along my merry way. Given that we felt the aftershocks of an earthquake on the east coast just a few days before, and the storm of the century projections that Irene was garnering from far and wide, I decided that I probably shouldn’t tempt fate.

My hurricane list included all of the recommended essentials: water, batteries, scotch, beer, cheese… like I said. The essentials… Anything else is superfluous… The benefits of participating on the Point Reyes tasting panel continues to pay dividends as a package arrived on my doorstep the day before the storm hit. Inside I found a letter providing an update on the progress of the yet-to-be-named Blue. In the interim, we were sent a wedge of “Tomme” that is yet to be released. What timing! I picked up my pen and crossed cheese off the list.

You can read the rest of my post for Culture Magazine here.

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