Miranda discusses her cheese club and her passion for cheese in an interview with CBS-Affiliate KOLN’s own Lance Schwartz. Please click on the link below to see this charming interview:

Lance’s Journal: The Cheesiest Club in Nebraska, Sept. 27.

The Lady visited a newer, independent and family owned grocer in the Vancouver area, Chuck’s Produce and Street Market. It opened last fall but The Lady rarely heads that way when she runs errands or shops. In truth, The Lady hates shopping; a trait I understand is rare in humankinds of the female persuasion. But on this particular day, she had been training a new Cheesemonger at another store in her chain and Chuck’s was on her way home to the manse… one more cynical than I might call this “spying” on the competition…

First a bit about Chuck’s. This is a really cool store. Spacious with lots of open areas and easy access to the products it sells. Lots of organic and local produce at reasonable prices. The store is clean and there’s an old flatbed Ford, which is cool, sitting in the produce area merchandised with items sold in the store… I wonder if that flatbed Ford ever drove by my corner in Winslow, Arizona?

The store is closed on Saturdays for “Family Day” – what a cool thing to do… The store has an amazing meat and seafood counter but sell no pork products and no shellfish. The ono and tuna are sushi-grade quality; the ready-to-cook chicken dishes are mouth-wateringly beautiful: flattened chicken breast wrapped around asparagus with herbs and fat-free cream cheese – The Lady was glad she wasn’t hungry… a terrible time to food shop. The bakery and the deli offer freshly baked goodies and prepared dishes with competitive prices. Did I mention that this is one cool store??? They also have a huge bulk food area loaded with interesting natural and organic selections.

Of course, The Lady was there to see the cheese area. The store has a very respectable selection and she had a chance to chat with their cheese specialist, a friendly and helpful cheesemonger named Jodi. Jodi had just cracked a new wheel of Fontina Val d’Aosta and had The Lady sample it… rattus, one more time I was not in the right cheese place at the right cheese time… The Lady says that Chuck’s doesn’t allow pets… what’s up with that??? Another “feline restricted” establishment… but I digress…

Chuck’s also has a kitchen and classroom area where they offer free classes and events. This Tuesday, May 17th, Jodi will be conducting a class about lesser-known Italian cheeses from 530pm to 630pm. The Lady has it on our “cheese calendar” and plans to attend. The following Tuesday (May 23rd), Jodi will discuss “Bargain and Value Cheeses” from 530pm to 630pm. Again, you will most likely find The Lady there. That class sounds similar in concept to The Lady’s “Everyday Cheeses”. Other classes/events offered at the store include “Vegetarian Picnic Foods” (May 25th) and Healthy Snack Foods for Kids (May 31st – taught by Dr. Kate).

After checking out the cheese selection, The Lady brought home two wedges of cheeses she doesn’t sell for me to taste and review.

I give Chuck’s Produce and Street Market 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). If you live in Vancouver, Washington, you really should check out this store…

Uniekaas Alpenhorn

The first cheese we tasted today was Alpenhorn, a young hybrid cheese made by Unikaas, a respected Dutch Gouda cheese manufacturer. It is a marriage between a Dutch Gouda and a Swiss Emmenthal; younger and softer than the aged version of its “parents”.  (BTW, Uniekaas also produces another cheese that we simply crave around the manse, the sublime Parrano.)

This cheese has a rich, deep yellow color (ingredients include annatto, a derivative of the achiote tree, used to produce a yellow to orange food coloring) with lots of well-formed baby eyes. It has a creamy texture and mild taste. While it works well on a cheese plate, I think it would do better paired with a nice juicy slice of Foster Farms’ Gallus gallus between two slabs of crusty bread and grilled to perfection with Golden Glen Creamery Farmstead Butter

I give Alpenhorn, the cheese and not the musical instrument, 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: As listed above, use it in a grilled cheese. The Lady also thought it would be a great choice for fondue because of both its mild flavor and creaminess. I suppose, but I always burn my paws when I join in the “fondue fun”.

Wine Suggestion: The Lady thinks this cheese would be well served by a glass of Tawny Post.

Beer Suggestion: Helles

Source: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

Cahill’s Irish Cheddar with Whiskey

Vegetarian-Suitable (as are all Cahill Cheeses)

The second cheese The Lady snagged at Chuck’s made The Man seriously swoon… I mean seriously swoon… Cahill’s Cheddar with Whiskey. The Lady and I have previously reviewed another Cahill’s Farmhouse cheese: their Original Irish Porter Cheese (another swooner… if you get my drift…).

Marion Cahill and her family have been making their cheeses for three generations and even though known around the world, they still craft them in the same old-fashioned way: handmade in small batches with great attention to the process. They haven’t sacrificed tradition for commercial venture. Many of their cheeses have won awards including this one we are reviewing here.

This cheddar is laced with Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey and you can smell the whiskey when you slice this cheese. The taste is more subtle than the scent; but it’s there and brings an extra dimension to an already creamy, full-flavored mature cheddar. The nutty flavor of the cheese combines with the whiskey to deliver quite a tasty savory finish. Of the two, The Man liked this one better and it was mano-a-feline to get a fair share… The Man simply doesn’t understand the concept of sharing… sheesh…

We have always been fans of Mary Cahill and her cheeses and this just solidifies our love for her cheeses all the more.

I give Cahill’s Irish Cheddar with Whiskey 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: I think this cheese should be served “Naked” to do it justice. Just pop it on top of a 34° Natural Crispbread Cracker and you’re good to go.

Wine Suggestions: This time, you gotta go with Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey and forget the vino…

Beer Suggestions: Why not Guinness and call this an Irish Cheese Boilermaker???

Source: The Cows on the Cahill Farm in County Limerick, Ireland…

Which brings to mind…

 

There is an Irish lassie named Marion

Who makes wondrous cheese; all vegetarian.

Quality cheese that’s handmade; then skillfully purveyed.

To eat her cheese, I’d gladly give up fresh carrion…


What??? I was a runner-up in the 2010 Cheese Underground “Cheese Limerick” Contest. In addition to all my other fine qualities, I consider myself a poet…

(The Lady has since visited Chuck’s a second time and picked up a wedge of Fiscalini’s San Joaquin Gold, a cheese I had begged her to buy… a review will follow soon…)

The Dairy Farmers of Canada held their bi-annual cheese awards this past week and announced winners in seventeen categories plus the grand champion:

Grand Champion:

Louis D’or!! A nine-month aged farmhouse and organic cheese from La Fromagerie du Presbytere located in Quebec. This cheese also won in two categories: Firm Cheese and Farmhouse Cheese. Congratulations!!! La Fromagerie du Presbytere also took the Blue Cheese Category with their Bleu de l’Elizabeth.

The Lady and I have not had the pleasure of tasting this cheese but you can be sure, The Lady is already ferreting out a way to get a wedge into the manse. According to Phil Belanger, Chair of the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Jury and President of the New-Brunswick Chapter de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, ‘’The milky richness of this cheese is a tribute to the organic milk with which it is made. The cheese has a smooth texture, warm nutty and floral notes in aroma and taste’’.

Category Winners:

Fresh Cheese: Mascarpone Tre Stelle, Arla Foods Inc. (ON)

Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind: Island Bries, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks Ltd. (BC)

Semi-soft Cheese: Lankaaster Traditional Gouda, Glengarry Fine Cheese (ON)

Washed-Rind – Soft and Semi-soft Cheese: Le Mont-Jacob, Fromagerie Blackburn (QC)

Firm Cheese: Louis d’Or, Fromagerie du Presbytere (QC)

Swiss-type Cheese: Fromage Suisse Lamaire, Fromagerie Lemaire (QC)

Mozzarella: Bocconcini Santa Lucia, International Cheese Co. Ltd (ON)

Blue Cheese: Le Bleu d’Elizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytere (QC)

Flavoured Cheese with Added Non-particulate Flavouring: Naturally Smoked Boerenkaas, Natural Pastures Company (BC)

Flavoured Cheese with Added Particulate Solids Flavouring: Gouda Herbs & Garlic, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd. (AB)

Mild Cheddar: Mild Cheddar, The Black River Cheese Company Ltd. (ON)

Medium Cheddar: Cheddar moyen Biologique, Fromagerie L’Ancetre (QC)

Old, Extra Old Cheddar: Le Jersey du Fjord, Bergeries du Fjord (QC)

Aged Cheddar (1-3 years): Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery (PEI)

Aged Cheddar (4years+): Cheddar Doyen 4 ans, Fromagerie Perron (QC)

Farmhouse Cheese: Louis D’or, Fromagerie du Presbytere (QC)

The Lady and I congratulate all the winners and hope to soon taste each and every one of them…

 The 7th Annual Seattle Cheese Festival at Pike’s Place is scheduled for May 14th and 15th.

The Lady, The Man and I will be there to check out all the great cheeses, meet some cheesemakers and The Lady will attend a few seminars to sharpen her skills as a cheesemonger. I also have it on good authority that she submitted one of our Grilled Cheese recipes into the Grilled Cheese Contest… we’ll just have to wait and see if she wins…

More than thirty cheesemakers are scheduled to be on site to sample their cheeses along with many specialty food vendors and distributors. There will be cooking demonstrations by area chefs, a mozzarella making demo and a beer and cheese pairing seminar. Something for everyone who loves cheese.

If you’re anywhere near Seattle that weekend and you love cheese… then this is the place to be.

As amazing as this sounds, The Lady chose the Cheese Festival over the PGA Players’ Tournament aka  the “fifth major”… but as you might guess, the DVR is already set and ready to record…

My cheese bud, Allison Hooper of Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery, will be Guest Chef for a week long cooking class in France May 23-30, 2011 at La Combe en Perigord.

For details and to make your reservations, please click here.

As part of our Cheese 101 project, The Lady is sharing the seven seminars she attended at the recent American Cheese Society Conference in Seattle.

The first seminar she attended delved into the concept of terroir and how place affects taste.

Moderator: Janet Fletcher – Food Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle

Panelists: Amy Trubek, Ph.D., University of Vermont; Ivan Larcher, Larcher Consulting Company; Mateo Kehler, Jasper Hill Farm

Terroir is a concept dating back to 14th Century France and is the belief that the land, the environment and the producer each have a unique effect on the taste of the product they are making.

Originally, the concept applied first to wine, but over time cheese became part of terroir. Terroir also led to the Appellation systems of France, Spain, Italy and the EU whereby particular products from specific areas are “protected” by the governments creating standards unique to the product and the area where it is produced. Under the protected designations wine makers cannot produce a sangiovese wine and call it Chianti unless it is produced in Tuscany. Although the Pinot noir grape is used to produce wine in the Willamette Valley, the producers cannot call it Burgundy as that is a protected name for pinot noir produced in the Burgundy region of France.

Ironically, the word terroir only came into existence in the late 1800s and was created as a marketing tool for the wine makers in France.

Janet Fletcher began the seminar explaining her definition of terroir is “the impact of environment on flavor”. She asked if anyone in the audience thought terroir was bunk and only one hand was raised.

I heard a story a few years back that a certain award-winning cheesemaker of raw milk cheeses in  California, stated that his cheese would taste exactly the same no matter where he made it and no matter where his herd grazed. Believers of terroir were scandalized by this statement.

Dr. Amy Trubek from the University of Vermont was the first speaker. She is an Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences and previously taught at the New England Culinary Institute. She is best known for her book, “Taste of Place”, which explores the multifaceted connections between taste and place in both cuisine and agriculture in the USA. At the University of Vermont she has been studying wines, cheeses, maple syrups and even hickory nuts and how the land, the environment and the producer affects the taste of the final product.

One example is an ongoing study of Tarentaise, an Alpine-style cheese made from raw milk by two dairy farms in Vermont. The recipes are based on the European cheese, Beaufort. Thistle Hill and Spring Brook farms both produce this cheese and are located less than twenty miles apart in Vermont near the foot of the Green Mountains. In this experiment, they took milk from the two farms and transported it to the same cheesemaking facility. The two milks were given to one cheesemaker who used the same recipe to make Tarentaise and began the aging in the same cave facility. Everything, except the milks, is the same. This study will continue for at least two years. At nine months, the two cheeses were tasted and one had a distinct garlic and onion taste which the other lacked. At this point, the study directed its efforts on the farms and found that what the cows were eating was the difference. Both herds were pasture-fed but the grasses and other growth in the meadows was different. Definitely “the taste of place” is in play in this experiment.

The next speaker was a Frenchman, Ivan Larcher, who is a consultant to cheesemakers who are starting their first dairies. He was a farmstead cheesemaker in France. As a Frenchman, he exhibits an “ownership” of the terroir concept and is quite specific in his thoughts about it. (I mean this is a positive way and not as a criticism.)

He believes that terroir cannot be created; it is something you “get”; it’s what you are and it’s what you do. Terroir is the result of humans, practices, heritage, landscape and the direct influence of the microbiological ecosystem of the area. He stated positively that pasteurization of milk destroys the terroir. To realize the benefits and results of terroir, the cheese must be made from raw milk; there are no exceptions to this rule.

According to Larcher, the flavor of cheese is a combination of milk (20%), microbiology (40%) and enzymes (40%).

He also stressed the point that of the millions of kinds of bacteria, only 4 or 5 are bad; the rest are good and necessary to produce flavorful cheese and preserve the terroir of the product. His inference is that the US Government needs to change the laws regarding raw milk products.

The last speaker was Mateo Kehler who makes Bayley Hazen Blue at Jasper Hill Farm. In addition to the Tarentaise project at UV, Kehler spoke about a Vermont Cheddar project also being conducted that is using milk from four different dairies to make cheddar.

He stated that geographical indicators create terroir but went beyond the concept and discussed the globalization of cheesemaking. With his brother, Andy, Kehler has built seven caves for aging and for cheesemakers who cannot age their own cheeses, the brothers will. They want to make artisan cheesemaking into a multi-million dollar enterprise. From what I know, it seems they will be quite successful.

At Jasper Hill, he is also developing a program that will uniform the making of Bayley Hazen Blue and franchise it to cheesemakers other than Jasper Hill.

I left the seminar with a better understanding of terroir and a firm believer that it exists.

It’s hard to believe The Lady and I have been on our cheese adventure for a little more than two years. It’s been a great time; we’ve learned a lot about cheese (but so much more to learn…) and we’ve met lots of other great cheese nurds… to cap the two-year journey, we spent last week at the American Cheese Society Conference in Seattle and loved every minute of it, rubbing elbows with all the Cheese Swells.

On our one year anniversary we listed the top ten pages on our blog and you can read that page by clicking here.

We thought we’d also do a top ten at the end of year two and here it is:

  1. Le Cendrillon Wins Best Cheese in the World (The Lady and I tasted this last week and we’ll write a review in the next few days…)
  2. 2.       The Beemster Cheese Family
  3. 3.       Beer, Cheese and Food Pairings Chart
  4. 4.       Index of Cheese Reviews
  5. 5.       Hard Italian Cheeses
  6. 6.       Cheese and Wine Pairings Chart
  7. 7.       Ilchester’s Applewood Smoky Cheddar
  8. 8.       Cahill’s Original Irish Porter Cheese
  9. 9.       Dessert Cheese – White Stilton with Fruit
  10. 10.   French Brie

The Lady and I thank you for your visits and support as we continue our cheese journey into the future…

American Originals/International Style Category

As much as I wanted to report yesterday, there were some serious, four-legged guests at the “Pets Friendly” Motel in the Suburbs of Seattle that diverted my attention… more on this later…

Saturday morning at the ACS 2010 Conference was the end of the seminars. The Lady had two terrific ones to end on a high note.

The first conference of the day was “advanced Sensory Flavor Characteristics and Chemistry in Bandage wrapped Cheddar”. Sounds technical, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no, according to The Lady.

This seminar was conducted by Dr. Mary Anne Drake from North Carolina State University. Dr. Drake took the class through an international study of regional cheddar sensory evaluations and then led the class through blind tastings of nine domestic and international bandage wrapped cheddars.

According to The Lady, it was amazing. She brought a set home for my own blind tasting which will take place on Tuesday and I will report my own findings at that time.

After this, The Lady attended the last class of the day which was a tasting with four charcuterie makers: all making outstanding charcuterie here in the United States from Iowa, Washington State, California and Utah. Each maker brought samples of their cured meats for the class to taste and enjoy. The Lady and I will review these in the next few days…

Once the classes were done, The Lady took a cab to Benaroya Hall to help with the set-up for the Festival of Cheeses and the Awards Ceremony. She was assigned to work on Cheese table D: American Originals/International Styles. For three and a half hours, she and four other cheese folks from Wisconsin and Atlanta cut and arranged the cheeses in this category for the tastings that would follow the Awards Ceremony. It was hard work but well worth the time and energy… and then it was time for The Grand Finale…

The alarm went off at 430am and startled the starch out of this Feline Foodie… for a moment I was disoriented; usually the alarm only goes off that early when The Lady is on her way to the cheese mines. Because we are in the Cheese Bunker in the suburbs of Seattle, I was pretty sure The Lady was not going to the cheese mines in Portland… then I heard her mention one word… one word that annoyed me greatly… Beecher’s… The Lady had a date at Beecher’s Handmade Cheeses at Pike Place Market to watch a cheese-making demonstration… and she had no intention of taking me along…

Wait… it gets worse, for me; but better for The Lady…

You’ve heard the old saying that “the early bird gets the worm”… well, The Early Lady also gets to help make cheese. The Lady was the first to arrive and Cheesemaker Adam asked her if she wanted to help make cheese and surprise… after she stopped swooning… she said, “You betcha!!”

She and two other “early birds” went into the make room where the curds were wheying and after the whey was drained, The Lady got to help with the cheddaring process; cutting the curds and flipping the blocks.

They made Flagship which will be aged for 18 months…

Beecher’s entire cheese operation is at the Pike Place site until their new Manhattan store is opened next year. They make four vats of cheese each day with each vat producing between 900 and 1,000 pounds of cheese.

The Lady had a picture taken with Adam, the Cheesemaker but because she forgot the download cord (the only item on her “things to do for Spaulding” list), I’ll add the picture once we return to the manse on Sunday…

At least she didn’t come back to the Cheese Bunker smelling of No Woman… she did bring a wedge of Flagsheep and a triangle of the 4-Year Flagship Reserve… which I will review in the next few days…

She swore she gave my love to the lovely Jena…

I’ll be reporting later today about the rest of The Lady’s day at the 2010 ACS taking place at the Seattle “No Pets” Sheraton… until then, I remain your humble Feline Foodie reporting from the “Cheese Bunker” hidden somewhere in the suburbs of Seattle…

WOW!! The Lady couldn’t stop talking last night about yesterday’s conference: she attended 3 seminars; had lunch with the “cheese swells” and assisted our friend, the lovely Rhonda Gothberg of the lovely Gothberg Farms Goat Milk Cheese at the Meet the Cheesemaker Event. Rhonda not only makes great cheeses but she is also a terrific person and The Lady enjoyed spending time with her and her cheeses.

It was a full day for The Lady and she was full of funny stories and tons of new information to assist her in the cheese mines.

Her first stop of the day was the bookstore where she was fortunate to meet both Max McCalman (Mastering Cheese) and Tami Parr (Northwest Cheese Project) and have them autograph their books. Gordonzola Edgar was signing also, but we already have his book autographed… still cool to see him… as I sit in the Cheese Bunker… The hangs with the “Cheese Swells”… life can be so unfair…

The first event was Terroir in America. The first thing she learned is that only the Frenchman on the panel can really pronounce that word correctly. The panel included Dr. Amy Trubek from the University of Vermont, Ivan Larcher from France (just like the Coneheads) and Larcher Consulting and Mateo Kehler from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont and maker of that more-than-wonderful Bayley Hazen Blue. More on the details later…

She caught the end of the cheesemonger merchandising competition and took lots of pix of the 5 displays. However, because she forgot the download cord that I, your humble Feline Foodie, asked her to bring… the pictures will have to wait until we are back at the manse… one item on her “To do for Spaulding Gray list”… sheesh… humankinds…

Zuercher and Company hosted a buffet lunch. The Lady sat and chatted with her friend, Judy Norton from Norseland; the folks who brings Old Amsterdam to the American Cheese Nurds.

After lunch, The Lady attended a panel of 5 esteemed Cheesemongers talking about their philosophies on selling cheese. The panel members were Gordonzola Edgar, Nathan Aldridge (Murray’s Cheese), Tom Van Voorhees (Rogue Creamery), Megan Mullaney (Sickles Market) and Carlos Souffrant (Zingermans). So far… this is The Lady’s favorite seminar… more details later…

The third seminar was “Getting Inside the Mind of the Retail Buyer”. This panel included Laurie Greenberg (Cultural Landscapes), Steven Rosenberg (Liberty Heights Fresh in SLC), David Grotenstein (Union Market) and Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers. The Lady informed me she picked of several important tips from the group… again… more later.

And to top off her day, the lovely Cheesemaker, Rhonda Gothberg of Gothberg Farms, invited The Lady to assist her at the “Meet the Cheesemakers” where all the “Cheese Swells” were able to taste and chat one-on-one with the cheesemakers. Rhonda is one of our favorite cheesemakers and The Lady was thrilled to sit next to her and talk about her wonderful goat milk cheeses from her 22 LaMancha does.

The Lady passed up the evening social event at the seattle Aquarium, choosing hanging with The Man and having Sushi… I was left once more in the Cheese Bunker…

On deck today… cheesemaking at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, home of No Woman, two tasting events of Northwest cheeses and wines and a seminar on Affinage. Tonight, our friends at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board are hosting an event at the Convention Center… until then, I remain your humble Feline Foodie reporting from the “Cheese Bunker” hidden somewhere in the suburbs of Seattle…