"Something Old; Something New; Something Stinky and Something Blue"

The Lady has been back from her trip to New York and Murray’s Cheese Boot Camp for a few days and has been especially attentive; she knows I am annoyed; I know she knows I am annoyed… which I, of course, use to my advantage.

The Lady explained that Murray’s is yet another one of those “No Pets Allowed” places…” we gotta keep those pesky dogs and cats away from where we sell and serve food”… I am more than willing to put my personal cleaning habits up against any humankind, any day of the week. Unlike many, maybe even most, humankinds, this Feline Foodie is fastidious when it comes to cleanliness… in my not-so-humble opinion, there are far more humankinds who shouldn’t be allowed inside food establishments than cats… as for dogs, there are so many other reasons to ban them… but I will save that argument for another day.

Since The Lady started her new cheese adventure, she has been traveling a lot and always comes home smelling of cheeses… lots of cheeses… ones of which I can only dream. At least while she’s away, I have The Man”Servant” at my beck and call. He is one easy dude to get to do most everything I wish… but I digress.

The Lady returned with wonderful tales of the cheeses in the cases at Murray’s and the cheeses she tasted during boot camp; a total of seventy-five plus many wines and several beers… as mentioned (numerous times), she gets the glory; while I do the heavy-lifting…

She took a photo of the cheese plate that followed the tour of Murray’s Cheese Caves… be still my heart… caves filled with cheese…

Affinage is the specialized art of aging cheese. The affineur finds the best sources for cheese and then nurtures them to their optimum ripeness for the best flavor of the cheese. This includes brushing, washing, bathing and turning to promote everything good in the cheese and keep the bad “stuff” out.

Brian, Murray’s resident affineur, led the class on a tour of the caves which Conde Nast Traveler named one of the 50 Coolest Places to be in the world. After the tour, he served a cheese plate that reflected the many talents involved in being a successful affineur.

The plate started with two wedges of Haystack Peak, a soft-ripened cheese produced by Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy in Colorado. (A detailed review will be posted soon.) The first wedge of this cheese was new and the second was aged about two weeks. While both were delicious, the aging made a good cheese only better.

Next on the plate were two wedges of Petite Frères, from one of our favorites, Wisconsin’s Crave Brothers. The first wedge was “as produced” by the Brothers, a wonderful small wheel of a fruity, earthy washed rind semi-soft cow milk cheese. The second wedge had been washed by Brian in a local brewery ale. Brian was experimenting with a new wash and the improvement to the cheese was amazing.

St. Nectaire, a French cheese from the Auvergne region of Central France was the next cheese up on the plate. This is an AOC –protected cheese. This is a washed-rind Tomme-style cheese that is shipped at the age of two weeks to the affineur for another six weeks of aging before the dense paste reaches perfection and is ready for the consumer. We will be reviewing this cheese in the next few days.

Up next were two versions of Cabot Creamery’s Aged Cheddar. The first was a creamy wedge of their cheddar that is shipped in cryovac to grocery stores national-wide. A very respectable wedge of cheese; one that appeared at the Burbank manse more than once. This is what The Lady and I like to call “an everyday cheese” – one that is respectable in its taste profile and inexpensive enough to have available for everyday use.

The second version from Cabot was their Clothbound Cheddar which is aged by the Cellars at Jasper Hills in Vermont.  With absolutely no disrespect to cryovac cheddars, once you’ve had a clothbound cheddar, you’ll never go back.

Following the cheddars was a wedge of Black River Blue; an award-winning blue cheese from Wisconsin. A milder blue that is slightly softer than butter and easily spreadable on a baguette for “everyday” enjoyment. Black River Gorgonzola is one of the “everyday” cheeses you can find around the manse.

The final cheese on the plate was Bayley Hazen Blue from the Kehler Brothers of Jasper Hills Farm in the northeast kingdom of Vermont. This is a cheese I have been dying to taste and thankfully, The Lady shipped a wedge home in her luggage for The Man and moi to taste and enjoy.  A review of this cheese will follow this Cheese Plate posting… but let’s just say, I’ll be using all my paws…

The Lady thanks Brian for leading the boot camp on a tour of the caves and if you would like to tour the caves, Murray’s Cheese offers tours of the cave along with many other great, cheesy classes at its Greenwich Village location. Check out their array of classes here.

Before reporting on a few things from the cheesemines of the world, I must step out and get something off my chest…

As previously reported here in my blog (for which The Lady acts only as the Front Woman, do not be fooled, my fellow cheese foodies), an interloper (pictured above) has invaded my deck and despite my many protestations, The Lady continues to cavort with him. I am not amused. In fact, I am anything but amused… The Lady knows I am not amused and I know The Lady knows that I am not amused and The Lady knows that I know that The Lady knows that I am not amused… I could go on forever…

At first I was merely perplexed that The Lady… my The Lady, continued to feed this gray gatecrasher. I stood at the door to the deck, puffed-up and growling, thinking (erroneously, I might add) The Lady was smart enough to take the hint and shoo him away. When that failed, I moved to the other side of the bed and started sleeping cuddled up next to The Man. Still, she ignored my messages.

I guess it’s true what Samuel Goldwyn told one of his screenwriters. There are other ways to send messages but if I leave one on the floor in the hall, I’ll have hell to pay… and how can I know that it will be The Lady who makes the discovery and not The Man? He’s my “man servant” and given the changes in The Lady’s heart, this is not a relationship to jeopardize.

In my darkest hours, I considered contacting The Brain and asking for a transfer; but The Lady feeds my cheese jones and I just can’t give up the cheese… perhaps I could go live with my BFF, Becky, who took care of me last year when The Lady and The Man went to visit Miss Anne and the Tall Guy… that won’t work either, The Lady and Becky eat lunch together every day and if I move in with Becky… awkward…

But finally last night I hit the wall; well actually I hit the screen door and knocked the darn thing off its track and whacked myself silly for a moment. Leading up to this event… The Lady fed the trespasser and shut the screen door between her office and the deck. That was her mistake; she should have closed the sliding glass door… the scents of his 9 Lives pâté and his own smug muskiness wafted through the screen and although The Lady, many years before, had robbed me of my manly-manhood parts (I will never forget… nor forgive her… but I digress…), rage coursed through my veins and I went for him… and the screen door came crashing down.

And the interloper, whom I noticed has his manly manhood parts still intact… tucked his tail between his legs and fled the scene leaving me with extra pâté, the entire deck and The Lady… all to myself

Might I add a note of caution to the gray guy who thinks he’s the new cat on the deck… The Lady can be wonderful and generous… but she will chop your balls off… no doubt about it… first chance she gets…

Now for the news…

Did you know that when you buy commercially shredded cheese, it is lightly coated with cellulose to prevent clumping? Do you know what cellulose is? It’s plant fiber and the most popular cellulose used in processed foods comes from wood pulp. It’s harmless, bland and cheap… it gives low-fat ice cream its creaminess; and it’s “organic”… now you know…

Marin French Cheese Company, the Petaluma, California cheese makers that has been operating for 146 years has been sold to France’s Rians. This is the same company that bought Laura Chenel Chevre in 2006. Marin French Company is a multiple award-winning cheesemaking company, known worldwide for its Triple Crème Brie which rivals any French Triple Crème… Rians is a family-owned company with fifteen creameries in both Europe and America… viva la Marin French…

And finally, to tie everything important in The Lady’s life… on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 was a dark day at Augusta National. A power outage at the plant that makes the famed pimento cheese sandwiches for The Masters, prevented delivery of sandwiches to the Tuesday practice round… thankfully, there were plenty of sandwiches for the rest of the event…

Feline Trivia: Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was the first President to have cats living in the White House? He had four that were his pets; his favorite was named Tabby and the President fed him from the table… I wasn’t one of them… but I know a feline who knew a feline who ate a mus musculus that had once lived in the White House.