Monday, October 18, 2010
Once a month, our small shop's shipping table overflows with boxes upon boxes of well insulated cheese, ready to be shipped nation wide to Cheese of the Month members, eagerly awaiting its arrival. Each shipment includes two cheeses, both favorites from our storefront and others we procure in limited quantities especially for our members, as well as a short card of information on the cheese, its producer and the monthly theme. In October we featured Midwestern cheese and included this short narrative along with the two delightful little pyramids of cheese:
Home to America’s Dairyland and known as the nation’s Breadbasket, the Midwest has long been famous for its abundance of cheesemakers and farms. Wisconsin, for example, produces 2.6 billion pounds of cheese each year, nearly 26 percent of all cheese made in the US. While much Wisconsin cheese is made industrially, more artisan and farmstead cheeses are emerging as the national trend in finding quality, handmade products continues. Today about 16 percent of Wisconsin cheese comes from artisans who make their cheese in small batches or farmstead producers who utilize only their own farm’s herd of animals for milk. In neighboring states, both new and veteran artisan cheesemakers create delicious cheeses expressing the diverse local terroir of the region. From the lush, hilly northern states to the expansive, grassy plains to the south, Midwestern farms are proving to be excellent places for cheesemakers to practice their craft. From states like Wisconsin, with a history of well renowned cheese and more certified cheesemakers than any other state, to Pastoral’s home state of Illinois, with a single pioneer in the farmstead cheesemaking world, the Midwest is an exciting place to be in the growing world of American artisan cheese.
Fayette Creamery, Darlington, WI
This pungent and powerful cheese illustrates the history and current renaissance of Wisconsin cheese very well. It is handmade by Joe Burns at Fayette Creamery, which specialized in small batch, artisan cheese and is under the parent company of Brunkow Cheese. Brunkow dates back to 1899, when a group of Wisconsin dairy farmers joined forces as a cooperative and built a cheesemaking facility. The company has grown to 18 local member farms, but remains true to its cooperative roots in its practices. As a product of the recently added Fayette line, Pavé Henri is made from milk from a single herd of 15 Jersey cows at Jordandal Farms in Argyle, Wisconsin. This particularly rich milk gives the small pyramid is creamy interior. The sticky rind is a result of being regularly washed with a brine as it ages for 40 days in Brunkow’s underground caves on wooden boards. With its enjoyably assertive and salty flavor and small pyramid shape, this cheese is reminiscent of French Pont l’Eveque, but made in much smaller quantities. We are excited to include this Chicago and Madison farmers’ market favorite this month. Fall is a great time to enjoy this cheese with a dark ale, dried fruit, or hearty bread.
Dutch Girl Creamery, Lincoln, NE
Dutch Girl Creamery is young, but since its first venture into milking goats in 2006, the herd has grown to 70 as cheesemaker Charuth Van Beuzekom-Loth strives to meet demand for her handmade, farmstead cheeses. Charuth has been dedicated to growing the farmstead cheesemaking scene in Nebraska since 2003, when she joined forces with a friend and fellow organic farmer to start Farmstead First, a cooperative cheesemaking facility. While getting their cheesemaking education from fellow American farmstead producers and top agricultural universities, the pair has also brought awareness and knowledge to young, local cheesemakers with workshops at their cooperative. They hope to demonstrate the viability and economic feasibility of small family farms for upcoming generations as they bring an authentic product directly to consumers at their local Nebraska markets.
The Chevre Frais we have included in this months selection is a soft pillow of fresh goat cheese coated in chives, pink peppercorns and rosemary from Charuth’s organic farm. The cheese itself is tangy and lemony with a crumbly, but still moist texture. It’s a perfect bright ending to the summer season--great with a crisp white wine like Sauvingon Blanc or a dry, fruity rosé.
Lucy Butka is one of the smiling faces you'll find behind Pastoral's cheese case. When she is not wearing her cheesemonger hat, or maintaining our Cheese of the Month, Wine of the Month or Pairing of the Month programs, you can find her wielding her copywriting pen or riding her beloved orange bicycle.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Our cheese comes from the world-famous Cravero family affineurs in the cradle of the slow food movement in Bra, Italy. The cheese is made using raw milk from cows fed a strict diet of local forage. The cheese is made with a mix of evening and morning milks. The cream from the evening milk rises to the surface during the night and is skimmed off to make butter and ricotta. The cheese is then matured at the creamery for thirteen months. While still at the creamery Giorgio Cravero selects the wheels that he will transfer to his own maturing facility where the wheels will stay until they reach the age of at least 24 months.
Our Parmigiano-Reggiano has a softer texture than most and has a fantastic fruitiness and slight sweetness. Notes of pineapple, dried papaya, fresh baked bread and a lovely green grassiness are shown in the aroma and the flavor.
For the wine we've chosen the Ocone Falanghina del Taburno from Campania, Italy. The Ocone family has been cultivating and making wine in the Campania Region of Italy for 100 years. The Falanghina grape is an ancient white variety that is cultivated just north of Naples. This fuller bodied white wine has aromas of apricot and melon with rich, enveloping honeydew notes. The present acidity flows nicely with the lingering apricot and mango finish.
Usually consumed along the southern shores of Italy with seafood, this wine will pair nicely with the cheese due tot he cheese's saltiness and its subtle herbal nuances. While this wine is now sweet it certainly has vibrant fruit flavors that will create the fantastic salty-sweet paradigm that we all go crazy for. Come into any of our stores this weekend to get a taste of both!
For more on this fantastic cheese, it's history and why that stuff in the green can just can't compare, take a look at Cesar's informative post . Can't come to the shop? We
Monday, October 4, 2010
When I first mentioned to my chef friend Andrew that I wanted to come visit him in Luzern, he said “Oh, perhaps we could drive to Alsace and visit my affineur…” Perhaps we could drive to Alsace and visit your affineur? I booked my plane ticket pronto and asked him to arrange that visit.
We hopped in the car at 10 am on a Monday morning and after yet another scenic drive through Western Switzerland, by Noon we were in Vieux-Ferrette, a tiny Alsatian town that is the home of Maitre Antony
We were given a tour of the incredible aging caves by Bernard Antony's son, Jean Francois.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
On the Sunday afternoon of my recent vacation visit to Luzern Switzerland, my hosts packed me and the kids in the car and drove 30 minutes to the postcard-worthy town at the base of Mount Titlis, a beautiful resort called Engelberg. We passed para-gliders and senior citizens frolicking in the glorious September sunshine. Our destination: the Cheese Factory at Engelberg Monastery. Now, I have visited a lot of cheese-makers, and in fact, I’ve visited a lot of monasteries. As we entered the factory, I thought to myself, this place reminds me of the Mars Cheese Castle. But my first impression was wrong. What struck me about Engelberg was that there was a man actually making cheese, taking us through the process from start to finish, in a glass enclosure in the middle of this touristy looking souvenir shop.
Step by step, live and in person, he warmed the local cow's milk, added the cultures and rennet, set and cut the curd, and hand ladled the curds into molds. A tiny temperature controlled demo cave showed the bloomy rind developing on the Engelberger Klosterglocke (a brie style cheese shaped like a bell) cheese at one, three and five days of age.
(For a great explanation of how they make soft-ripened cheese, visit this link:
Thus inspired, we sought fortification up the hill on the sundeck at the 200 year old Alpenclub, an old-school Swiss chalet serving local specialties like fondue, buendnerfleisch (air-dried beef) and speck overlooking the ski lifts.
Our next stop was 10 km up the mountain on a winding, single lane road that switchbacked through the Alpine pastures. As the big brown cows lifted their heads to see who was passing, the bells around their necks would clang. I thought Julie Andrews would run out singing at any moment. But instead we stopped when we saw this sign
When we got back to the apartment in Luzern, Andrew plugged in the raclette machine and cut huge slabs of Rolf Beeler’s Swiss Raclette, and we melted and scraped and ate cheese until sunset. A mountain cheese lover’s dream day.
Posted by Lisa Futterman. I run the wholesale cheese program at Pastoral. We sell artisan cheeses to over 40 Chicagoland area restaurants and retailers.
Friday, September 24, 2010
A: Rogue River Blue is back in stock!
That's right, after too many months of waiting the BIG DADDY of the Rogue Creamery line is finally back in the stores! This raw milk blue is made only in autumn, and wrapped in grape leaves that have been soaked in pear brandy. Stephanie and Agela think that in addition to the flavors of berries, hazelnuts and mushrooms that this cheese has a chewy, fudgy texture and a lingering flavor that is emparted by the grape leaves.
Brand new to our cases is the Robiola di mia Nonna from Reichert's Dairy Air in Knoxville, Iowa. All of the cheese is made from the milk of only 15 goats. With such a small supply of cheese available it's out the door almost before it has a chance to get into our case. Complex and assertive, the cheese has a lovely tang that evolves into pleasant earthy flavors and a lush creamy texture. Yes, you need to have this cheese. Seriously.
This week for our pairing the cheese comes to us from award-winning Uplands in Wisconsin. As you all know, Pleasant Ridge Reserve is a fantastic cheese, so fantastic in fact that in august it won Best of Show at the ACS for the third time. Unfortunately, we're all sold out right now. Never fear though, every cloud has a silver lining and ours is that we are now carrying Pleasant Ridge Extra Reserve.
At it's core, it's the same cheese. It's a farmstead cheese that's only made from May-October when the animals are grazing on pasture. The same love and care goes into each wheel made, and it's aged the same way. The difference is in how long the wheels are aged with the wheels of Extra Reserve aged for a minimum of 15 months-twice as long as the younger cheeses.
These particular wheels are from the batch that Cesar and Cristi picked oh so many months ago and the cheese was made on June 3 of 2009. Along with a slight milky sweetness you'll find notes of toasted nuts, grass, fruit and a little tang of clover.
Mike Gingrich says that he finds a slightly sweet Reisling is a perfect pairing for the cheese. Far be it for us to disagree with the well-respected award-winning cheesemaker, so we're pairing the Hirscbach & Sohne Reisling from Mosel, Germany.
Wine buyer Jill comments that this wine is ripe and slightly sweet with a lively acidity and balanced richness that Riesling is known for. Aromas of stone fruit like apricots and nectarine with a flavor profile that includes honey, white flower and roasted pears.
Together this is a dynamic duo with the wine enhancing some of the floral characteristics of the cheese while the nuttiness of the cheese perfectly compliments the honey and pear flavors of the wine. Yum!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
On Saturday 9/25 from 12-2pm Leslie Cooperband of Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign, IL will be offering up samples of her delicious farmstead goat cheeses. But wait! There's more. From 12-3pm we welcome Wisconsin's renowned Holland Family Farm, specializing in farmstead Gouda.
Sunday 9/26 we're bringing in a bit of Michigan. Creamery manager Mike Baptista from Zingerman's Cremery in Ann Arbor will be offering up some tasty examples of their fantastic cheeses.
Monday 9/27 Our locations on Lake St. and in the French Market will be hosting the producers of our brand new cheeses and honeys. Join us from 12-1:30 at our Loop store or from 5-6:30 at the French Market as we showcase some of the finest Italian honeys, cheeses, and vinegars. Monofloral honey from Meli Thun, balsamic from San Giacomo and Italian cheeses from various producers. We are honored to have these fantastic artisan craftspeople from Italy in our stores.
Tuesday 9/28 If you missed the events on Monday don't worry, we're continuing our cheese and honey tasting at our Broadway store today from 5:30-7:30
Friday, September 17, 2010
Lake St. from 12-1:30
French Market from 4-5:30
Broadway from 6:30-8
Shockingly, the Tarentaise is our cheese of the week. Tarentaise is a washed rind, semi-hard, raw milk, cooked curd, farmstead cheese. What's farmstead cheese? It means that the cheese is made on the same land where the animals are raised. Having the cows and the cheese at the same location allows the cheesemaker and the herdsperson to work closely together in producing a truly unique and distinctive artisinal cheese.
Nutty, grassy and slightly sweet with a nice buttery mouth feel this cheese is one of two Vermont farms making Tarentaise. Spring Brook Farm isn't just about making delicious cheese, they're also giving back to the community as a part of the Farms for City Kids charity. This program takes city kids and their teachers and gives them an educational week on the farm. The kids learn how to apply their school work to life outside of the classroom and they get a great education in where food comes from. They help take care of the animals, help turn cheese, garden and have a fantastic learning experience in the process. We are very excited and proud to help support this great organization.
Xian suggests the Ommegang Tripel Perfection to sip alongside this fantastic cheese. In it's traditional style, tripels are fruity, malty beers with well-hidden warming alcohol notes. It's kind of conjecture, but the story goes that these beers are called "tripels" because the monks brewing the beer indicated the high alcohol level (8-10%) by marking "XXX" on the jugs.
The makers at Brewery Ommegang in upstate New York took three years to formulate the "perfect" recipe in the style of a traditional tripel, but with a touch of spice here and there to add complexity. the Tripel has notes of vanilla bean, tropical fruit, banana bread and just a hint of bubblegum. This is a one-time-only beer, and they only brewed 2,000 cases total. Although very tasty now, this beer can be aged for two or three years.
This is a great example of a truly harmonious pairing. The cheese serves to emphasize the sweet, yeasty nature of the beer, and the naturally produced bubbles in the beer soften the mouth feel of the cheese, creating a wonderfully buttery flavor and texture.
Monday, September 13, 2010
This part of the competition was at 7am. We look perky and focused though don't we?
Friday, September 10, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
The Cheese, Bridgid's Abbey is from the mother and son duo at Cato Corner farm in Colchester, Connecticut. This Trappist-style monastery cheese has a smooth consistency and an irresistibly rich, and mild taste. The flavor is slightly milky, with a nice balance of acidity and sweetness.
Originally this cheese was inspired by a Belgian recipe brought to cheesemaker Mark by a Belgian cheesemaker named Freddie Michels. This is a rinsed curd cheese which is made by replacing a portion of the whey with water. This reduces the lactose and slightly warms the curd during the cheesemaking process.
Made from raw milk this washed-rind cheese changes throughout the year. Summer batches are firmer with a slightly higher acidity. The winter batches are creamier and often a bit stronger in paste and aroma. The deep yellow color of the paste is a result of the beta carotene that comes from the Jersey cows' pasture diet.
For the beer we go to Belgium. Brewed for Vanberg & Dewulf by Schelde Brouwerij the Hop Ruiter takes the lively, yeasty tradition of Belgian blond ales and pairs it with a touch of American hoppy aggressiveness. There are some orange blossom and biscuit aromas, a creamy mouth feel, and pleasing presence of bitterness from Nelson Sauvin hops in the finish. This beer is raucous, rustic, bold and alive!
Together these are both lovely examples of amazing, special, small batch products. The Hop Ruiter is an assertive beer that tempers some of the salty , lactic nature of the Bridgid's Abbey and brings out a hint of earthy complexity. The fine carbonation tangles with the richness in the cheese creating a delightful mouth feel.
Friday, August 27, 2010
This is our lost posting on the Blogger platform as we are moving our blog over to Wordpress. Stay tuned for the new site. It's going to be bigger, better, super awesome and rad!
For our pairing this week we're going north and south.
The cheese comes to us from Fromagerie Tournevent in Quebec, Canada. Chevre Noir is a goat's milk cheddar aged for approximately one year. In 1976 Lucie and Rene quit their city jobs to move to the rolling hills of Chesterville, Quebec where they started a dairy goat farm.
As many dairy farmers before them, they soon realized that they had more fluid milk than they could market and decided to focus on cheesemaking as a way to use the surplus milk. In 2007, Tournevent was purchased by Damafro, another cheese company in Quebec.
Made in the Cheddar style and aged for a year this goat's milk cheese continuously surprises. Hard and crumbly, with a long finish and refreshingly fruity flavors, this cheese inevitably gets people's attention. This wine is perfect with Chinon or Chenin Blanc wines.
We've decided to go to South Africa for the wine.
Rietvallei Chenin Blanc is an honest expression of one of South Africa's signature white grapes. Rietvallei is also one of the oldest family-owned estates in Robertson, located in the Western Cape, South Africa's premier whine growing region.
Chenin Blanc is originally from the Loire Valley and has a high acidity that makes is suitable for creating everything from sparkling wines to dessert wines. It's also known in South Africa as "Steen" where it is the country's most planted grape variety.
The Rietvallei Chenin Blanc is comprised of old-wine, hand picked grapes. The juice is then stainless steel fermented at a low temperature until considered a dry wine. The result: a fruity, cristp Chenin Blanc with lovely floral aromas of dried apple and musk sweets. The palate is full-bodied with a balanced acidity complemented with a lingering aftertaste.
The rich, creamy texture of the Chevre Noir Cheddar is a great juxtaposition for the Chenin's fruit-like acidity. The subtle nutty flavors in the cheese give a salty boost to the pairing when it meets with the sweeter quince-like notes that are exhibited in the wine. Salty+Sweet=Yum!
Friday, August 20, 2010
The chocolate comes to us from Antica Dolceria Bonajuto in Sicily, Italy. Founded in 1880 by Francesco Bonajuto, Antica Dolceria, has been recognized world-wide for it's chocolate production.
The chocolate begins with a mass of semi-ground cocoa that still contains its cocoa butter. The mass is heated to make it fluid, and when ready it is mixed with caster sugar and spices (either cinnamon or vanilla). The mixture is kept at a temperature that prevents the sugar crystals from melting and allows them to remain an integral part of the chocolate.
This chocolate is pure, without the addition of butter, vegetable fats, milk derivatives or lecithin, just sugar and spices. We are sampling the vanilla bars at the stores, but if you're looking for a deeper spice and slightly more savory characteristics I suggest pairing with the cinnamon bar.
Humbolt Fog comes to us from Cypress Grove in California. Cheesemaker Mary Keehn is one of the leading ladies that put a spotlight on goat cheese in the American dairy scene and introduced high quality goat cheese to the American palate. She began raising Alpine goats in the 1970's and quickly discovered that she had a natural talent for breeding goats. Her herd began winning numerous awards and before she knew it, Mary was recognized as America's premier Alpine dairy goat breeder.
Like many farmers she soon was faced with a surplus of milk and so turned to cheesemaking. Eeventually Mary made the decision to sell her goats and instead to focus on the artisan production of cheese. Cypress Grove supports the agricultural community in Humboldt county and buys milk from people who practice sustainable farming.
Humbolt Fog is an elegant, soft goat cheese. The texture is creamy and luscious with a subtle tangy flavor. Each handcrafted wheel features a ribbon of edible vegetable ash running through its center and a coating of ash under it's white exterior.
The wine is Jorge Ordonez Malaga Special Selection Muscat. Muscat is a phenomenal grape that yields some of the most wonderful sweet dessert wines and dry whites as well. It is a variety that is grown around the world with great success.
Special Selection comes from thirty year old vineyards in the mountains of Axarquia in the south of Spain. Fermentation is carried out completely in stainless steel tanks and, as is characteristic of this type of wine, the alcohol comes exclusively from grape fermentation.
Pale gold in color with intense fresh notes of orange and exotic spices, floral and musk this sweet wine is powerful on the palate, embracing and warm with just a punch of minerality.
The sweetness of the wine, slight acidity and tang of the goat cheese and the rich spice of the chocolate all come together to make a well-balanced, delicious, party of happiness in your mouth!
Friday, August 13, 2010
This week we're featuring McChouffe, a beautiful, special Belgian dark ale . It started when two Belgian brother-in-laws started homebrewing in the 70's and eventually turned their hobby into a business by opening up a brewery in the 80's. Their beers quickly attained a cult following, which resulted in their joining up with Duvel for importing and marketing purposes.
This beer has rich notes of caramelized sugar, a little bit of bubble gum, and some dried figs which are common in Belgian darks due to the roasted malt and proprietary yeasts. The McChouffe is uniquely refreshing which makes it a perfect full-flavored beer for the summer. Super smooth going down with a swift hit of hops to sweep away any cloying remnants.
Our cheese this week is exclusive to us in Illinois thanks to the fabulous team at Neals Yard Dairy.
Hafod has only been in production since 2007. This Welsh Cheddar from is made by cheesemakers Sam and Rachel Holden. While the cheese is a new venture, the farm that they work on belonged to Sams' father and is the oldest registered organic farm in Wales. Using a modified recipe for the cheese Linconshire Poacher and with a herd of Ayrshire cows in the fields, this cheese has a bit of a Swiss quality that compliments it's Cheddar aspects.
Hafod is a raw cows milk cheese with a smooth close knit texture and a golden color. The predominant flavors are buttery, rich and nutty with a slight tang at the finish. Together the beer and cheese are magnificent with the the brown sugar notes in the beer balancing the salt, tang and fattiness found in Hafod.
Send all hugs and complimentary emails to Xian and Cesar for such a great pairing.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Washed-rind, seasonally-made and ACS award-winning Grayson from Meadow Creek Dairy is one of our staff and customer favorite cheeses.
Meadow Creek Diary is a family farm in the mountains of southwest Virginia. At an elevation of 2800ft. the combination of pure water, clean air and deep soils produce an ideal environment for growing diverse, mineral-rich pastures.
Since 1980 the Feete family has focused on farming and working closely with their herd of Jersey cows, giving them the best care, and developing a herd that is best adapted to their farm. By practicing sustainable farming and treating their cows naturally, they produce milk of the highest quality which in turn translates to healthy, full-flavored, ecologically friendly cheese.
We'd like to welcome Jill Pienta as our new wine buyer replacing Jamie Kluz who is moving on to work at the Penninsula hotel here in Chicago.
Jills' suggestion for this week is the 2007 Laurence Feraud Selection's Plume Bleue.
Plume Bleue is a negociant wine (grapes are sourced from outside the estate) created by Laurence Feraud of Daomaine du Pegau, a very reputable estate in Chateauneuf du Pape. Laurence Feraud is one of France's young progressive winemakers. wine making is a family affair with her father helping with the wine-making process and her mother manning the administrative end. Laurence uses the family estate to created traditional Rhone style wines in addition to experimenting with negociant labels to work around AOC rules.
Wanting to create a Vin de Pays d'Oc, Laurence sought out top quality fruit from the surrounding Rhone area to create this 50/50 blend ofGrenache and Syrah. This charming wine offers vibrant red fruit character with hints of pepper and toasted herb. Medium-bodied with subtle tannins, this wine is perfect with grilled meats, charcuterie and of course washed-rind cheeses.
-Cesar & Jill
Friday, July 30, 2010
Domaine de Beaurenard is a family run estate that has been producing wonderful Chateauneuf du Pape and Cotes-du Rhone Villages wines for 7 generations. The estate was originally called "Bois Renard" (wood fox) but the name slowly transformed in Beaurenard over the years, although the Coulon family still uses "bois Renard" for their special cuvees.
The fruit of this estate is 100% hand-picked and sorted to separate the best grapes from immature or damaged clusters. Using only indigenous yeasts the Coulon family have made wine the sameway for generations. Based in the philosophy of minimal intervention and combined with a few modern technology upgrades they continue to create natural wines that truly express the terroir of the region.
The 2009 domaine de Beaurenard Rose is comprise of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. The grapes are de-stemmed, gently crushed and are placed in a vat-just like it would be if making red wine. The skins are bled of color by staying in contact with the juice for 24-36 hrs. This process is known as the saignee method and the contact imparts the rose color and lends the terroir and fragrances of the grapes tot he wine. In essence it has the body of awhite wine with red wine aromas and flavor characteristics.
This wine should be served chilled and has aromas of strawberries and raspberries. On the palate it exhibits vibrant fruits found in the nose with a chalky minerality and a dry finish. It pairs nicely with charcuterie, saltier cheeses, seafood and roasted pork dishes.
The cheese this week comes to us from Beehive Cheese Company in Utah and is called SeaHive.
This Cheddar-like cheese is hand-rubbed with Beehive wildflower honey and Redmond sea salt from Redmond, Utah. The sea salt contains unique glints of color due to the more than 50 natural trace minerals. Back in 2005 Tim and Pat with the help of the Western Dairy Center of Utah State University opened up their shop. Beehive Cheese is among only a few artisan cheesemakers working in Utah, and make some of the most innovative cheeses we've tasted.
This cheese has a creamy and sweet component with a slight tang, and a deliciously salty (but not too salty) finish. The mild acidity of the wine plays nicely with the creaminess and dry finish of the cheese and compliments the sea salt .
-Cesar, Jamie, Jill
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Named after the small village of Morbier in the Jura region-the same region as Comte-and shares an intimate history with Comte as well.
Traditionally after making Comte the cheesemaker would have curd leftover, but not enough to make another wheel. They would take the remaining evening curd into a mold and spread ashover it to protect it overnight. The layer of ash was used to protect the cheese from flies, or any other undesirables intering the cheese. The next mornings' leftover curds were placed on top, creating a two layer cheese.
Nowadays this cheese is often made from one milking with the line of ash added for a more traditional look. Unlike many Morbier found in the U.S.A., our cheese is a true AOC cheese. It comes to us from a company that still practices the tradition of using the rich evening milk-which is full of nutrients due to the cows grazing all day-as well as curds made from the morning milk. Flavors of butter, hay, and sweet milk can be found in the paste while the washed rind adds flavors of leather and a slight bitterness.
Cesar talks about the beer:
Blanche de Bruxelles - Witbier is a very old type of beer, a speciality of the farm-breweries of old Brabant. The master brewers used their very best crops to make this beer. Blanche de Bruxelles owes its natural cloudiness to the large percentage (40 %) of wheat that goes into its composition.
The natural spice aromas of coriander and bitter orange peels are added during the brewing process. The brewing method, which includes infusion, is very slow. The beer, which is not filtered, is bottled and re fermented with yeast and brewing sugar. The beer has a fresh and mellow flavor with a hint of orange. It is really not like any other beer.
Every once in a while we come across a pairing that add flavors to the combination that were not there before. In my opinion this is one of them. While the beer has a light citrus flavor the combination gave it a floral depth. Xian says- "it tastes Purple", I think it's more lilac, and Kelly goes with lavender. Purple it is!
For the cheese it accentuates the earthiness from the rind and allows the rich milky flavors to shine. A fantastic combination that must be tried!
Friday, July 9, 2010
Our current pairing is already going gangbusters at all three stores this week. For the cheese we have a new-old addition to our case. Green Hill from Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, Georgia. This cheese is a little delicious disk of creamy goodness. Made in the style of Camembert, this double cream cheese is made from the rich buttery milk that comes from happy Jersey Cown raised on pasture. It's a bit like eating a wedge of farmstead butter with hints of clover, yellow dandelion tops and a slight mushroomy earthiness in the rind. A fantastic cheese that has made more than one cheesemonger at the store very very happy.
What to drink with just a sumptuous cheese? Jamie suggests a bubbly Cava. Gran Sarao Brut Cava from Penedes in the Northeast part of Spain. his dry sparkler has aromas of apricots, green apples and minerality with a bit of freshly baked bread thrown in the mix. Bubbles aren't just for special occasions, they're for any occasion-especially one that includes a voluptuous cheese such as Green Hill.
Monday, July 5, 2010
But this isn't about walking for miles and miles in a convention center sampling products until I was stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey. It's about the Saturday night before the show and what it is to be a cheesemonger.
Everyone knows that making cheese is hard. So many things can go wrong. Too much salt, not enough, a weird strain of bacteria is somehow introduced, you age your cheese and right before you go to sell it, a pipe bursts. It's a craft that takes perseverance, determination, and a mastery of chemistry that most of us just don't have.
Once the cheese leaves the aging facility/make room or creamery it's given to us to care for, nurture and sell. This past weekend I was able to go to a contest that focused solely on the skills necessary to be a fantastic cheesemonger.
Adam Moskowitz from Larkin-the cheese importer in the 5 boroughs-in NYC came up with the idea to hold a competition. Each monger (there were nine competing) would have to go through a series of challenges. Accurate cutting 1/4#, 1/3# and 1/2# pieces in a timed event; wrapping cheeses of various shapes; pairing cheese and beer; making an advertisement for a retail shop; putting together a cheese plate; and being able to identify milk type and old world vs. new world. In other words, this competition wasn't playing around.
It was a great opportunity to watch my fellow cheese-lovers put their skills up on the block for everyone to see. A lot of other cheese retailers were there, but for me one of the best parts was seeing cheesemakers at the competition. After all we are all connected. Without their lovely products we don't have jobs and without cheesemongers...well, I hate to even think of it.
Congratulations to Matt Rubiner of Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers in Mass. for kicking some butt and being crowned the winner! Watch out though Matt, the ACS is having their second annual cheesemonger competition next month and our very own Cesar will be competing. I smell a challenge brewing.