Posts from the ‘Cheese world’ Category

11th Hour

I took this photo on the last day of 2011. Nash and I were down at Crissy Field before Rose’s huge 30th birthday surprise party, killing time before more down and dirty kitchen work. It was a perfect day, and when this shot lined up, the cargo ship coming through the gate, Nash’s tail at attention, it all just seemed to click. Out with the old, in with the new, and onward to the next. A few things that ended the year on a sweet note:

Illegal (shhhh) Brie de Meaux for Christmas. These wheels must have gotten mixed up with the pasteurized for export Fromage de Meaux and snuck themselves in to the US unrecognized. Hooray! This piece of raw milk Brie pretty much made Jesus’s birthday the best party ever.

Briarcombe House, Horseshoe Hill, Bolinas.

A true step back in time to the 1960s, when it was built as a residency for artists and general gathering place of architects, poets, musicians, gurus, writers and their entourages. Home for the weekend for a great group of friends. There was cracked crab, there was the Bolinas Christmas Fair, there were two dogs, one baby and many old fashioneds. And it was proven that you cannot take the West Marin out of the girls…

You thought you were going to get away with only one picture of cheese in this post? Fat chance. My Christmas spread was simply too epic to be relegated to the back seat. Sarah gave me a challenge: bring cheeses that she had never tasted. I love challenges! From left to right: Hillis Peak (goat) from Pholia Farms, St James (sheep) from Holker Farm via Neal’s Yard Dairy, Rupert (cow) from Consider Bardwell Farms, the aformentioned Brie de Meaux, and in the way back, nestled between the pomegranate and the honeycomb, a chunk of Stichelton, my vote for best blue cheese in the world. Baby Cheesus in the house!

Just a ferry ride away…

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Bleating Heart

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to accompany one of our delivery drivers, Sean, on his route in Sonoma County. The idea was that I would have the opportunity to meet our local customers while learning more about our largest route geographically but smallest monetarily. And of course talk shop with Sean, see if we could come up with any fantastic ideas for 2012. One of the stops we made was at Seana Doughty’s house in Sebastopol to pick up cheeses from her aging room. She is Bleating Heart, a second year cheesemaker with a new herd of sheep and two storage unit/aging rooms attached to her house. Hand made is an understatement.

Seana uses raw (thus the above tracking on when it’s legal, must be 60 days old for US standards) sheeps’ milk from her own herd (last year she was using milk supplied by Marcia Barinaga, maybe my favorite cheesemaker on the planet) to create Fat Bottom Girl and Shepherdista. The girl’s got sass! Love her designer cheesemaking boots, her Mini Cooper and her heart topped cheeses, each design meticulously placed by hand. Notice it on the Fat Bottom Girl below?

Just beautiful. What started as a mistake when she didn’t flip the cheeses quickly enough became a desired trait once Seana named these little bulging bottomed beauties. The rind is lovely, revealing a tender, sweet paste that hints of freshly shelled walnuts and rich cream. Her second sheeps’ milk cheese is Shepherdista which can be a bit more assertive in salt and flavor than the Fat Bottom Girl, in the most pleasant of ways. She also makes a Jersey cows’ milk cheese called Sonoma Toma. Eat them if you can find them!

Rows of Shepherdista

Aging cheeses love humidity!

One aging room surrounded by apple orchards

Not a bad place to spend your day.

Beautiful Beaufort

Friends, meet the King. It is an honor to have his appearance here on this humble blog. Coming to us all the way from the French Alps, birthed from Tarentaise cows in the summer of 2009, he is here to show us how it is done. He teaches us how one juggles the responsibility of being widely referred to as the King of Gruyere, the stress of Trans-Atlantic travel and the worries of being mis-handled. I am pleased to say that he is the luckiest wheel of his batch, having made it over to us for some truly royal treatment. Bon Apetit!

 

All about the chedda

or the benjamins or whatever. What I’m trying to say it there may be no bite of cheese as satisfying as a rich chunk of clothbound cheddar, bits falling to the floor and butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Pictured above is the royal Monty’s, reigning king of bandage wrapped goodness. Until recently that is, but now the light has begun to fade on this superpower, inconsistencies abound and fissures fleck the interior. Monty’s at its best is still a beautiful piece of cheese, but how about this looker below?

I guess I’ve always preferred Lincolnshire Poacher. It is the high note to Monty’s beef brothiness; the Poacher I dream of is like a cool slice of pineapple drizzled with brown butter. We tasted through a few batches of each recently and the cheeses were all over the place. That’s one thing about these farmstead cheddars, I have never found them to be very consistent. I only got a whisper of tropical fruit from the Poacher, and a meatiness more like french onion soup from the Monty’s. The best advice I have is, if you see one being cracked at a cheese shop, get a piece then! A freshly cut wheel releases every ounce of what it’s got, like the perfume from a charentais melon, and it never gets better than at that very moment.

Hello Summer!

Meet the sweet new Pierce Point. She’s been re-tooled for 2011 with a new mix of herbs: field flowers, chamomile, calendula and Thai basil. This was one of the first test batches and determined the mix that made the cut. The basil rocks! I am really loving the flavor it brings. Supposedly this will be the year we finally have four seasonal cheeses. Get it, one for each season! The 4th is in the works, we’re looking for a Fall cheese and I can’t wait to see what they decide. There have been some interesting combinations so far…mum’s the word, but keep an eye out in September for something new!

One blue to rule them all

Bayley Hazen Blue. The best name in the business and perhaps my favorite domestic blue cheese.  Mateo and Andy Kehler make this beautiful blue way out in the Vermont countryside. They use raw milk from their small herd of Ayrshire cows which produce brightly yellow, rich milk. You can taste the cow in this cheese, which I personally love. Don’t be shy! There is just enough blue, deep dark espresso notes and hints of sweet cream. It is drier than a Stilton but looks just like a miniature version of it, with it’s tall tower shape and clean, suede like rind. While there was recently a good amount of variation in the flavors of this cheese, it is back on track with Mateo taking over cheesemaking again. I could eat it till the cows come home.

Cannonball

A thumbelina sized cheese, Wabash Cannonball is a dense, cakey, goaty little gem from Capriole Dairy in Indiana. From the woman who brought us the Crocodile Tears comes this springy little number to celebrate the short window when goat’s milk cheeses are truly a beautiful reflection of the land: bright green grass, citrusy herbs and flowers. Judy coats these petite balls in ash and sends them out to us as soon as a thin rind develops. We are lucky to have them.