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The 2nd Annual Cheesemonger Invitational is Tomorrow!!

July 7, 2011

Are you ready…?

Aaron’s Obsession: The Blue Without a Name

June 28, 2011

The tasting for Point Reyes begins!  I received my first wedge via Fed Ex last week.  Inside the box was a gorgeous wedge of blue cheese, and a card directly from the cheesemaker giving the parameters of our critique.

Because this is a collaboration with Culture Magazine, the tasting panel has been asked to blog about their experiences.  We send our raw notes on directly to Point Reyes, but we can craft something with a bit more personality for the magazine’s website.

I am pretty much what you would call a cheese freak.  I eat it, cook with it, write about it, make it (at home and with cheesemakers on their farm).  Because that isn’t enough, I even monger at a cheese shop on a part-time basis.  So yeah… you could say that I am a bit obsessed.  So imagine my surprise when given the opportunity to help a master craft a new American classic?  Now that is priceless…

You can read the rest of my impressions on the Culture Magazine blog.


Creating a New Masterpiece for Point Reyes

June 21, 2011

Taken from the Point Reyes Website

So I was given some pretty cool news yesterday.  About a month ago, I entered my name into a contest of sorts to help Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. develop their next great, American cheese.  I sent in my name, information, a couple of writing samples, and left it at that.  Culture Magazine notified me last night that I have been selected to participate!

Starting as a dairy farm back in 1959, Bob Giacomini established Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese in 2000.  At that point, they were making the only farmstead blue cheese in all of California.  They released an Italian-style table cheese (Toma) last year; and they are now looking to add another classic to their portfolio.

Point Reyes will send each of the tasters a couple of packages filled with cheese in order for us to taste and then provide feedback.  I will provide more detail as this develops, but couldn’t contain my excitement.  How cool is it to contribute to the development of a brand new cheese, with such a prominent and important American cheesemaker…

Very excited.

Kunik from Nettle Meadow

June 7, 2011

A NY cheese post for the NYCR as I get back into the blogging swing of things.  Kunik is one of my absolute favorite cheeses. Whether discussing cheese from NY, America, or anywhere for that matter, this cheese always stands near the top.

This past weekend Chris and I shared an especially ripe wheel with some friends  when it occurred to me that I have never written a post about this cheese exclusively.

This tragedy needed to be rectified…

One of the things I love most about the cheese made in New York state is the diversity. We have cheesemakers all over this great state, from Long Island to the shores of the Finger Lakes,  to the Hudson Valley that strive to bring unique and high-quality products to your cheese board and table…

…Whenever I talk or write about New York cheeses, I am invariably asked who I think makes the best cheese. Even though I have mentioned this cheese many times in previous posts, and almost always recommend it when offering suggestions, I took a look and was surprised that I have never devoted a post to what I consider to be one of the best (if not the best) cheese made in New York.

You can read the rest of my post here.

Toma Primavera from Cherry Grove Farm

May 26, 2011

I came across this cheese from Cherry Grove when visiting the Farmer’s Market in my area this past week.  I am familiar with another cheese from this farm as Lucy’s Whey carries “Herdsman” on a pretty regular basis.  This cheese, however, was new for me.

Cherry Grove Farm primarily milks Jersey cows, but the person at the market told me that they also milk a smattering of Holstein and other breeds to round out their milk quality and quantity.  The cows are all grass-fed during the summer months, and hay during the winter, with 2 months off in order to give the cows (and farmers) a break.  This focus on seasonal milking and rotational grazing practices really speaks to the quality of product that they are striving to produce.  As a consumer and  cheese lover, this means a lot to me.

What struck me about this cheese was the gorgeous color of the rind and paste.  My picture may not quite do it justice, but the orange washed-rind and golden-yellow paste provides quite a contrast, especially when strolling by their market stand out  in the sunshine.

Toma Primavera is quite pungent when it comes up to room temperature.  More so than I would have originally expected. Nothing quite like Grayson or Époisses, but pungent all the same.  The paste is incredibly creamy.  Right from the start, you can tell that this cheese will melt beautifully on just about anything.  In tasting a bite, I get elements of butter, almonds, and just a hint of tang on the end that lingered for quite a while on the long finish.  This is a bold cheese.  Not overly assertive, but distinctive enough to where I would not quite classify this as “mild”.

Definitely worth checking out the next time you happen across their cheese at their Farm Store, a farmer’s market, or cheese shop near you.

Lucy’s Whey as Featured on Food Curated

May 2, 2011

I haven’t had much time to post for the past couple of weeks.  Even with my lack of time to formulate words and ideas for posts (although I am putting a couple together), I still read up on my favorite subject as much as I can.

Amy told me about this video piece back when she went with Liza to film at Calkins Creamery.  We had just started carrying  “Noble Road” (fantastic Brie-style cheese) at Lucy’s Whey and she was very excited about this new relationship.

Check out this excellent video from Food Curated about Lucy’s Whey and the important relationships that develop between cheesemaker, cheesemonger; and how it relates to all of us as cheese lovers.

Lucy’s Whey: Sourcing Exceptional Cheese with an All-American Cheese Shop

The Cheesemonger Invitational 2011

April 13, 2011

This event was held last year for the first time with tremendous success.  Cheese shops and cheesemongers from across the country came to Long Island City, NY in order to participate.  Unfortunately, I had a conflict out-of-town and I couldn’t attend.  Not this year!  Once again, The Cheesemonger Invitational is back at the Larkin Center on Friday night, July 8th.

This event is for cheese professionals and enthusiasts alike.  Attendees will learn about cheese, eat cheese, talk about cheese, eat cheese…you get the idea.

Fromager Tia Keenan, quite famous among the cheese literati, is in charge of all the food.  She is well-known for her unique pairings and artful combinations which should make for quite a treat!

The evening is capped off by an all out competition between cheesemongers in a classic skills competition!  The mongers are judged on cutting, wrapping, tasting and pairing for a total of 10 grand in cash and prizes.  Yeah…Ten Grand…

Tickets are only $25, and I personally, cannot wait.

Blue Cheese Update #3

April 7, 2011

The aroma coming off of this is amazing.  Funky, funky blue… Love it.  The brown and blue and green streaks are covering the outside as I expected. As you may see on the left, there is a small vertical crack in the rind.  My humidity fell below where I wanted it so it dried out.  I have been keeping an eye on it, but this seemed to appear almost overnight.  I corrected it by putting a damp paper towel in the corner of my aging box.  This brought the RH (relative humidity) back within range.  I am going to give this a scrape, and then back into the box for another couple of weeks.  By the 3rd week in April, it will be ready to come out of the box, wrap in aluminum foil, and then live on the bottom shelf of the fridge for another 3 months.  I have to say I am pretty damn excited…

Berle Farms “Berleburg”

April 1, 2011

Another NY cheese review for the NYCR.

Berle Farm in Hoosick, NY is a certified organic farm that produces seasonal and sustainable goods such as hand-stirred cheeses and yogurt as well as pastured beef.

When Lucy’s Whey, the cheese shop where I work part time, first started carrying this cheese at the Chelsea Market shop, it was made and shipped under a different name — Bovinaburg.

You can the rest of this quick review here.

Pairing Series #3 – A Perfect Match

March 24, 2011

I have been somewhat remiss in putting up some of the pairings that I have put together over the past couple of months. Not to say that I haven’t come across pairings that have worked, but nothing has impressed me to the point where I feel compelled to write about it…till now.

Echo Mountain Blue from Rogue River Creamery is one of my all-time favorite blue cheeses.  Specializing in blue cheese, they consistently produce unique and high-quality cheese such as their internationally acclaimed Rogue River Blue.  Even though Echo Mountain has been around since 2003, I didn’t have a chance to taste it until I started working at Lucy’s Whey.  This cheese is unique in that it is a blend of unpasteurized cow’s milk and goat’s milk, and then aged for up to a year.  That’s a long time to age a blue…  Most are ready after about 6 to 8 months, but the additional time and patience spent here is well worth the wait.

The creamy texture is absolutely fantastic.  The slightly golden paste is well marbled with even blue veining throughout.   Every piece melts away on your tongue, and explodes with the flavor of fresh butter, crème fraiche, and a hint of black pepper and smoke. The mixture of the sweet cow’s milk and tangy goat’s milk are perfectly balanced, giving a remarkable complexity.  Fantastic…  So what would stand up to this?

I like something assertive with a touch of sweetness when I pair something with a strong blue cheese.  The salty and acidic bite from the veining, coupled with the layered sweetness underneath from the paste, requires something that stands on its own without overpowering.

Blue cheese is pretty much the only style where I don’t automatically turn to beer (Although you can’t really go wrong with a good stout or barleywine).  This needed something that is complex in its own right.  Taking a look at our available options, I saw one final bottle of wine from the Finger Lakes that Chris and I have been saving for a special occasion.

The Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard produces some of the very best Riesling not only in New York State, but across the country.  Their wines have received well-deserved recognition from the New York Times, Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, etc…  On a recent trip to the Finger Lakes, we visited the winery and had a chance to sample through  their library of wines and experience what makes them so special.

The 2007 Late Harvest Riesling is one of the best wines I have ever had.   It is difficult for me to describe “mouthfeel” when describing wine, but the texture of this is silky smooth.  The honeyed sweetness with just a hint of citrus and pear gives a vibrant acidity that dances across the tongue. Remarkable. We left with a couple of bottles of this just waiting for the right opportunity to open.  Now was the time.

The balance between the cheese and wine is perfect.  The sweetness and acidity of the Riesling brings out the sweetness from the cheese with the tangy and metallic notes from the goat’s milk hanging out in the background.  This represents everything you want in a pairing – one component elevating the other.  Just fantastic.

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