Apples and Cheese

applesncheese.jpgCrisp like the new autumn breeze, sweet like the joys of family gatherings, and tart like the season’s change from warm to cold, the apple is the expression of fall. And though they can last all winter long, there is no substitute for a specimen in season, when the apple’s flowery juice tends to explode brilliantly from beneath that red-green covering.

Apples also make for an almost-perfect companion to cheese, as the balance of tartness and sweetness is a phenomenon common to both. These days, the Union Square Greenmarket is teeming with apples of every kind, New York State being a particularly great area for growing them. Seeing the surfeit, I decided to do an informal apple and cheese tasting event with my wife and her brother and sisters, who happened to be coming over for a visit. I picked out ten, yes ten, varieties of apples as well as five cheeses to try with them.

Picking the apples was fairly straightforward—I went with some of my old favorites (Stayman Winesap, Honeycrisp, Suncrisp, Mutsu), as well as some that I keep hearing about but have never tried (Cameo, Jonathan, Macoun). Rounding out the list were

The Cheese Reporter

Just added to the "Miscellaneous" section of our links page is a link to the Cheese Reporter, a Wisconsin-based dairy industry periodical. The 130-year-old periodical, available by paid subscription, is circulated weekly to cheese and dairy industry insiders from around the world, and provides weekly coverage of important industry developments, ranging from new FDA regulations pertaining to bioterrorism to winners of state, regional, national and international cheese competitions. In addition, the website offers a

Stinky Bklyn

I'm quite sure there are many stinky things in Brooklyn, the Gowanus Canal being perhaps the paradigmatic example. But just a stone's throw away from that cursed body of water, you can find some stinky items that actually make us happy. I'm talking about cheese of course!

Stinky Bklyn opened about six months ago and carries over 125 varieties of cheese, as well as a nice selection of high quality charcuterie, breads, chocolate, preserves, and even produce, all tucked in to a cozy and charming retail space at 261 Smith St. in Carroll Gardens. They even have

Laura Chenel's Chèvre Sold

The New York Times reports today that Laura Chenel's Chèvre, one of America's first and largest artisanal goat cheese companies, has been sold to a large French conglomerate (the Rians Group). According to Chenel, whose company currently makes 2 million pounds of cheese per year, the sale price was "in the millions." Might this be the start of a new trend, with other small American cheesemakers getting bought by larger multi-national conglomerates? Or perhaps we will see more mergers among small companies so that they can better harness economies of scale? Whatever happens, this almost certainly is a watershed moment.

Link to full article.

Move Over Fondue...

Raclette is a semi-firm, cow's milk cheese, made in the alps of Switzerland and France and aged from 3 to 6 months. It is also a means of serving the cheese, not unlike fondue, in which the wheel is heated by a fire or heat-lamp, and the melted surface of the wheel is scraped onto a plate. In fact, the French verb racler means "to scrape." Along with the melted puddle of cheese, one traditionally serves cornichons, pickled pearl onions, and one or more small boiled potatoes.

Last week Emmi USA, the largest importer of Swiss dairy products in the country, invited me to a "Raclette Party" held at Swizz Manhattan, a Swiss-American restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. (Swizz actually offeres a Raclette dish on their regular menu; appetizer portion $10, All You Can Eat for $26.) Though I'd previously tried the cheese on its own, this was

Easy Cheese Laid Bare

Easy Cheese, that orange, processed so-called cheese in an aerosol can, is a cultural marvel. (And also, what's so damn hard about eating regular cheese anyway?) So much so that this month's Wired Magazine has an article that explores the many bizarre ingredients that go into every can of this party favorite. The ultimate irony: this "cheese" is mostly whey!

Them's Fightin' Words

Oh snap! In the continuing battle between California and Wisconsin for the title of "state with the most prolific cheese production," comes editorial from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal: But Cheetos aren't cheese. The backstory is that the New York Times recently published an article claiming that cheese production in California will soon surpass that of Wisconsin for the first time. This editorial fights back, however, with the argument that

Meet the Curd Nerd - Dr. Michael Qian


In this installment of "Meet the Curd Nerd," we talk to Dr. Michael Qian, Assistant Professor in the Food Science Department of Oregon State University. Dr. Qian's research interests are in flavor chemistry and technology, and he has done a lot of work with cheese as well as wine and fruits. He also served as a technical judge at this year's American Cheese Society Competition, held in July of this year in Portland, Oregon.

CN: Tell us a little about your background as a Food Technologist, and what originally sparked your interest in the field?

MQ: My background is in chemistry, and as a chemist most of my work is associated with analytical chemistry and food chemistry. Originally I was focused more on the general chemistry side, but after I came to the States in 1997, I began to study and work more in the area of food chemistry. I got my masters degree at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and later on I began to work on a PhD at the University of Minnesota. I got interested in food chemistry because

Spelunking with Marian Burros

In today's New York Times, Marian Burros has an interesting article sure to interest many a curd nerd. It's all about caved-based affinage, with a particular focus on cheesemakers from the Northeast US. She talks about the aspects of cave-aging that can affect the ripening of a cheese, the trend in the American farmstead cheese industry toward more and more cave-aging, and she also offers tasting notes that compare cave-aged and non-cave-aged versions of the same cheese. And no article about cave-aging would be complete without mention of Mateo Kehler, owner of Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. Mateo, of course, is the man who took Cabot's Clothbound Cheddar, aged it in his caves, and walked away with the American Cheese Society's Best in Show award for 2006.

Cheese of the Week - Valley Shepherd Creamery Scent-sation

From New Jersey's Valley Shepherd Creamery comes this delectable washed-rind stinker made from the mixed raw milks of cows & sheep. The rectangular log has a white-ivory pâte with a soft and friable texture scattered with small holes. The taste is strongly mushroomy with a piquant, salty background.

Valley Shepherd Creamery sits on a farm of 120 acres in Long Valley, Morris County, NJ. They are extraordinarily prolific, offering 20 varieties of sheep, cow and mixed milk cheeses, as well as sheep's milk yogurt. From blues to bloomy-rinds to tommes, Valley Shepherd's offerings are truly

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