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Introduction to Cheese day (cross-posted to my journal) [20 Mar 2010|09:26pm]

What to do on a wet Saturday in March but spend a day at the School of Artisan Food near Worksop in north Nottinghamshire.

Our tutor today was Chris George of Neal's Yard in London. He started by talking about the history and origin of cheese, followed by a demo of soft cheese making (similar to the goat's cheese I made a couple of weeks ago) and took us through a tutored tasting of French, British, and Irish cheeses.  We covered fresh and soft cheeses , mould-ripened cheeses, washed rind cheeses, traditional hard English cheeses, weird new English cheeses, thermophilic cheeses and finally some blue cheeses.  We tasted cow's milk, sheep's milk and goat's milk varieties.

We took a couple of hours out after lunch to visit the nearby Stichelton Dairy. This is interesting.  Very few British foods have a Protected Designation of Origin status - the equivalent of Appelation Controlee - but Stilton is one of them, and the PDO says that Stilton is made from pasteurised milk.  Traditionally this was not the case, although Colston Basset made their Stilton that way until 1987, then gave up because the rules for making unpasteurised cheeses got too onerous.  So the big suppliers, who write the PDO rules, said that Stilton was pasteurised.

Neal's Yard went into partnership with a local dairy farmer and with Joe Schneider, an American cheesemaker working in the UK, to make a new, unpasteurised Stilton, but were not allowed to give it that name, so it was called Stichelton - the old name for the village of Stilton, where this famous cheese was first sold. So we got to look around the dairy and I got my first view of what they are like inside.  The fresh cheese makes a lovely smell, but as we advanced through the wooden racks containing ever further aged cheese, the pong became ammoniacal and rather overpowering.

Stilton is a beast to make and needs to be handled extremely gently and slowly, not like cheddar, which can be handled roughly and beaten up - in fact the cheddaring process requires it.  Stilton is not pressed, but the curd gently settles to a crumbly paste which is aerated with a series of diagonal prongs to allow the blue mould to develop.

I left with a little cheesy doggie bag including the only real Red Leicester still made  - Sparkenhoe - and a variety of cheeses from Coolea to Parmesan, Hawes Wensleydale to Comte.

Came home to find definite signs of white mould forming on last week's home-made Caerphilly - this is a GOOD thing - obviously.
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My home made goats' cheese [08 Mar 2010|11:19pm]

The first time I have used rennet and a proper Danisco starter culture.  The smallest sachet of "direct vat inoculation" culture treats 50 litres of milk, so I made up a starter in 1 litre of milk first and split it into 15ml ice cubes for small-scale use.  60ml of starter and 10 drops of rennet went into this batch.

These were made with 2 litres of pasteurised goat's milk.  They are deliciously tangy and creamy and not very goaty at all, (like Boursin, if you have tried it) due to minimal oxidation of the milk.  The curds were cut to 15ml cubes and piled into moulds, then drained over about 18 hours with several turns to keep the texture even.  Lastly they were salted and left to finish draining for 14 hours.  I had two pairs of moulds of different sizes, hence the different shaped cheeses.

They keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge.  I will keep sampling them to see if the flavour develops.

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Home made cheese [06 Mar 2010|06:48pm]


I bought a cheese making kit - I have a dream of one day becoming an artisan cheesemaker and thought I had better start at a kitchen scale of operations.  Here's my first attempt at a fresh cheese - there are more details on my own LJ.  Please do come over and visit.

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Dangerous Cheeses [02 Jul 2009|08:16pm]
[ mood | amused ]

Q: Who do you call to handle truly dangerous cheeses?

A: The Cheese Enforcement Agency

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Hello? [16 Jun 2009|06:17pm]

OMG, did I kill this community? I made the last post in December last year, hyping my book. Ha.

I'm hear to plug myself again actually. I'm going to be concentrating my cheese posts on my personal website:
Gordonzola dot net but I also created an LJ feed for it. LJ was my first online love after all.

And my book is still coming out. March 2010 on Chelsea Green. Yes, that's a year later than it was supposed to be, but the economy did a number on the publisher I was previously contracted to.

So, had any good cheeses lately?

My current favorite: anything from La Clarine, especially the Roussette. But it's super-small production so if you're outside Northern California, it'll be tough to find.
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"Cheesemonger": you can order it now. [01 Dec 2008|10:58am]

Hey everyone in this now-quiet community, I have a big announcement to make. My cheesemonger memoir is now available to pre-order. It is now titled Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge and sure, it won't be out until March, but pre-ordering it for that special loved one, co-worker, or friend makes a holiday gift that will last through the first quarter of 2009. Give 'em a nice piece of cheese and a promissory note. Heh.

cheesemonger cover

It's not a guidebook, but a book that demystifies the cheese business, talks about cheese myths and politics, and discusses how I ended up spending the last 15 years of my life in the world of cheese. Whoo-hoo!

(I don't think of this as spamming but posting to a community that I've been a member of for years that might be interested. If people feel this is a misuse of the community please talk to me or the moderator. Thanks.)
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Grated goodness [17 Oct 2008|01:56pm]

[ mood | listless ]

So if anyone is out there, how would you characterize the difference between Romano, Parmesan and Asiago?

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A Cheese Story [08 Aug 2008|02:39pm]

Love makes you

With thanks to nancylebov.
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[30 Jul 2008|10:59pm]

hmm... no one's posted pics from the ACS conference in Chicago, so I guess I'll bite :)

I was lucky to have won a sales contest for the company I work for (I run I think the highest volume cheese counter in Utah at Harmons Grocery), and along with a few other folks got to fly out to Chicago for the conference. It was a blast. I learned a great deal that I'll be taking back to my cheese island, met some wonderful people and had my eyes openned to the community of cheesemakers, retailers, and distributors that makes up the ACS. Even made a few new friends ;)

I'm still feeling the effects from the Festival of Cheese... with around 1200 cheeses to taste, I was there from the start until after they flickered the lights to shoo people out... tried a pretty good majority of what was there (soooo glad there was an abundance of fruits and free booze to keep my palate clean and help ease the way down!) in my three trips around the room. lol

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Good descriptions needed! [23 Jul 2008|08:10am]

I gathered 9 different types of cheeses for a party but I need to explain them each for any interesting details. I have some things written down but I want to see what everyone else thinks of these cheeses. Here are the list of nine:
1. Goat
2. Gouda
3. Fontina
4. Roquefort
5. Pecorino Pepato
6. Brie
7. Gruyere
8. Saint Andre
9. Montagnolo
Just descibed them any way you've experienced or possibly anything interesting about the particular cheese. Thank you!
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Cheese trip to France [21 Jul 2008|10:56am]

Hey folks, I just finished writing up my week-long cheese trip to France and figured some of you may be interested in reading it.

Here it is, a cheese buyer's trip to France

FYI, It's picture heavy. Lots of good stuff like this:


(In the past no one has minded the links back to my own LJ, but if anyone has a problem let me or the mod know. Thanks)
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Most expensive cheese you've bought? [14 Jul 2008|12:54am]

The other day I bought some Forster Kase (recommended by the storeperson at the Bedford Cheese Shop) for $38/lb.  $38!  The most I'd spent at Zingerman's for cheese I think was $24/lb, though there are probably pricier ones there.  What's the most expensive cheese you've run into?
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Making A Cheese Plate [17 Jun 2008|11:56am]

I found this really informative video about the different types of cheeses one should consider when making there own cheese plate.  I found it very helpful, and now I do not feel like such a moron when figuring out what cheeses to get.

Making A Cheese Plate
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History of the Blue. [12 Jun 2008|12:56pm]

Blue cheeses are originally a product of the environment in which they were ripened. In the case of Roquefort, the Roquefort caves in which the cheese was stored were teeming with Penicillium roqueforti.

The circumstances surrounding the discovery of Roquefort are the subject of legend and history. The earliest legend has it that a shepherdess left her lunch of cheese curd and rye bread in a cave, and when she returned to find it weeks later, she discovered Roquefort cheese. The Roman historian Pliny (23-79 AD) wrote of a cheese from a mountainous region of France near the Mediterranean that might have been Roquefort, and it is reputed that even Charlemagne himself was served Roquefort at the monastery of St. Gall in 778.

Many blue cheeses such as Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton are, like wine, a protected designation of origin, meaning they can bear the name only if they have been made in a particular region in a certain country. Similarly, individual countries have protections of their own such as France's Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée and Italy's Denominazione di Origine Protetta.

Today most blue cheeses (bleu cheese) are either injected with the mold, as with Roquefort, or the mold is mixed right in with the curds, as it is with Gorgonzola, to insure even distribution of the mold. Most of these cheeses must still be aged in the original caves where they were developed to bear the name.

Mild blues love the company of light fruity white wines while the piquant blues prefer a robust, spicy red. Semi-sweet or sweet wines such as Cavernet, Zinfandel, Chardonnay or Sauvigon Blanc complement the salty taste of Blue Cheeses.

View video of the burial of a 70kg Roquefort
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Behold the power of cheese! [09 Jun 2008|05:02am]

I just found a study that showed that cheese helps you think (link to the article at the bottom):
Scientists have found that people with high levels of the brain chemical serotonin are more likely to succeed in delicate negotiations affecting their own interests. Serotonin is manufactured in the body from the amino acid, tryptophan, which is present in several foods – and cheese is a particularly good source.
Other foods it recommended were "meat, soya beans, sesame seeds, chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk and salmon," noting that cheese was one of the best sources of tryptophan.  Additionally, although the study seemed to have focused on serotonin enhancing your negotiating ability, it would also enhance most other reasoning skills, and probably other mental functions, including mood, as serotonin is a chemical targeted by a kind of antidepressants called Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SRIs) which do not increase serotonin production but instead decrease its absorbtion.  However, one must note that there is probably a threshold for the improvement, because although tryptophan is important for manufacturing serotonin, this does not mean that its presence in the body directly stimulates serotonin production.  So eating cheese will prevent one from being low on serotonin, but may not provide more than normal levels (although it may; I don't know exactly how it works).
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Baked mac & cheese [23 May 2008|09:38am]

Hi everyone! I've been a member of the community for a short while, and this is my first post. I LOVE cheese! However, I'm here to ask your advice on a specific recipe. I'm going to make this baked macaroni and cheese recipe over the long weekend, and I was going to modify it to include some of my favorite, melty cheeses. However, they claim that the macaroni and cheese will freeze well, and I'm just wondering: if I freeze it, do you think the cheese will lose some of its flavor once it's thawed and reheated? Has anyone else ever frozen homemade mac n' cheese?

Thanks in advance!
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Incredible goat's cheese [08 May 2008|01:01pm]

So I went to the 'Manchester Food Lovers Festival' at the weekend, wasn't too impressed with the general turn out of cheese people there's normally a much wider selection at these things.

But one of the stalls was for 'Capra Products' from their naturally reared goats. They had goat meat in various preparations, and some cheese.

Oh my god the cheese.

I'm eating some right now for my lunch, and it's seriously the best cheese I have had in several years.

The woman on the stall described it as being like feta, but really it's not comparable. It's sold in a red wax, fairly small rounds. It's rather wet, with a texture that reminds me to some extent of very very fresh mozzarella. But then following that initial mouthfeel it gives way to total creaminess with that distinctive tang of 'goat' (but not too much) so that it's almost like a very solid greek yogurt.

I'm not very good at describing cheeses really, but if you ever see these people around, grab some cheese quick.

I only wish i'd bought more!
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Cheese Information [14 Mar 2008|12:22pm]

There is wonderful information on Cheese and videos at www.wineandfoodtube.com
Type in Richard Thomas in the search he is Australia's top cheese maker.
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Cheddar [21 Feb 2008|01:48pm]

For March, I'd like to feature Cheddars from around the world at my store, and I'm in the market for a few. I have a Cheddar from Vermont, Canada, and Seattle, and England, but I'm looking for a few others, particularly Ireland (St. Patty's day and all.) I've heard some good things about Kerrygold, and they make a couple of Cheddars I'm looking into, but I'd like some feedback from cheese lovers such as yourselves.

What are your favorite Cheddars (Irish or not)? Do you prefer English cheddar to American Cheddar, or is Scottish Cheddar your bag? Or something else entirely?

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[18 Feb 2008|08:08pm]

Without a doubt, the most fun part of my job (other than eating cheese, of course) is putting together the displays on the back counter every day. This means I get to play around with different styles and props and put cheese together in some sort of attractive manner. if you've ever had an inkling of interest in interior disign, it's like that except with cheese.

Todays were simply laid out - not too many props. How many can you guess?

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