Cheese Shop Newsletters

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In my unending quest for curd knowledge, I am a faithful member of email newsletters from several brick and mortar cheese shops. In such capacity, I have noticed a strange phenomenon: more often than not, the newsletters from Murray's and Artisanal arrive within several hours of each other, and yesterday, for example, they arrived within nine minutes of each other! Sometimes Artisanal's comes first, other times Murray's beats them to the punch. Now, I am sure this is no accident; I'm sure whoever is writing Artisanal's newsletter is a member of the Murray's newsletter, and vice-versa. But the really creepy thing is that the two contemporaneous newsletters often share the same "theme."

For instance on May 30th, the Artisanal newsletter arrived, featuring "Incredible Cheeses of the Northeast USA." Three days later, on June 2, the Murray's newsletter touts the all-too-predictable theme "Murray's Gone Local." In this case, it is possible that

Curd Nerd Vanity

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If vanity license plates were something that tickled my fancy, I would certainly go for the one pictured above. Which is, I might add, currently available from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

Creaturely Needs

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Today I finished reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, which, if you can get past the occasional gratuitous nostalgia, is a well-written, impeccably-researched, and tremendously entertaining book. In it, Pollan follows three different food chains from beginning to end: industrial, pastoral (referring to organic and farmstead/local food chains), and personal (hunting & gathering). The industrial food chain, not surprisingly, is almost entirely dictated by the ubiquity of cheap corn, while the pastoral food chain has its foundations in the cultivation of grass pasture, and the personal in the bounties that spring forth from trees (or, more generally, forests).

One of the sections that resonated most personally was one in which Pollan theorizes why many people today fill their lives with activities that draw on ancient or ancestral ways, especially certain food-related activities such as baking bread or making homemade preserves. He proposes that this is largely because we are so

Wisconsin to Encourage More Specialty Cheesemaking

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The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that state officials with the Dairy Business Innovation Center are trying to remake the image of Wisconsin cheesemaking toward one more focused on specialty and artisanal cheeses.

Wisconsin produced 2.4 billion pounds of cheese last year and is worried that California, which produced 2 billion pounds, will soon surpass the state in cheese production. In addition, the profit margins on specialty cheese are far higher than on industrial products. As reported in the article,

Cheese of the Week - Beenleigh Blue

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If any of you out there happen to find a pair of socks in the Grand Central Terminal Market, would you kindly return them to me? They were knocked clear off my feet the moment I tasted Robin Congden's Beenleigh Blue over at the Murray's counter. This sweet ewe's milk blue, which is made in southwestern England, near Totnes in Devon County, has a creamy yet flakey texture. Similar to Roquefort, it is one of only a handful of a British ewe's milk blues, and its flavor is mildly spicy and not too salty.

Bad Curd Nerd!

Wesley Lindquist of High Bridge, Wisconsin has given us all a wonderful lesson on how to set the raw dairy movement back a few years, having sickened at least 40 people with his unpasteurized white cheese curds. Cheese curds are fresh curds of cheese that are removed in the middle of the cheddar-making process (before pressing) and sold separately. When they are very fresh, they make a squeaky sound when you chew them, and are a very popular snack in Wisconsin. (And like most American culinary foodstuffs, there is also a deep-fried version of cheese curds, usually available at state fairs and the like.) It is illegal to sell any raw dairy products in Wisconsin, and Mr. Lindquist has been ordered to cease production. Personally, I would've thought his classy "unlabeled clear plastic bag" packaging would've tipped people off to the latent danger of his comestibles, but I guess sometimes you just gotta have some cheese curds.

Full Story

Goat Cheese Disaster.

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This is a problem that, I'm sure, few people have: too much expired goat milk. As it happens, this is a problem I'm faced with on a somewhat regular basis.

Being a thrifty and resourceful lad, I decided to attempt to turn this sow's ear into a silk purse by making a very simple goat cheese out of the unsalable, but still good, gallon of goat milk from Coach Farm.

The recipe calls for the gallon of milk to be heated to 190º and then mixed with a 1/2 cup of plain old white vinegar. In theory, this should lead to a supple paste of goat curd forming in your pot, which you then gently break up with a spoon, salt and then drain into a cheesecloth lined colander. After a few hours of draining you should have

New Curd Nerd on the Block

Ever since I started Curdnerds.com in November of last year, I've felt guilty about calling this site "The Internet Home of Cheese Aficionados." Aficionado is more like it--for the last seven months or so, this site has been a one-man operation. Until now. There's a new blogger joining the Curdnerds.com team, and I'm sure you will enjoy reading his informative and irreverent posts. His name is Tom, and here's a little bio he wrote to help you all get acquainted:

I work with food. All. Day. Long.

I started in the fast-paced and rewarding world of food at the age of 17 when I got a job working for Northwood Pizza in Orange, CA.

After a few years making pizzas and

Dairyscience.info

Dairyscience.info is an amazing website that surely puts the "nerd" in curd nerd. Run by Michael Mullan, a food technologist and professor of food science in Ireland, dairyscience.info contains a wealth of scientific information on the bacterial cultures used in cheesemaking, on the organisms that can harm those bacteria (phages), and on factors that can affect quality and quantity (yield) in cheesemaking. If you have any interest in the science of cheesemaking, like I do, you could while away many, many hours browsing this site. There's also a well-populated links page, rounding out one of the best cheese-related sites out there. Apparently the feeling is mutual, since, as of this writing, curdnerds.com is the "featured website" on dairyscience.info!

Büffelmozzarella

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Close your eyes and picture heaven; are there soft, billowing clouds, soaring golden gates, and friendly angels flapping their feathery wings through the honeyed air? Not for me there aren't. For me there is nothing but a vast expanse of mozzarella di bufala, small white puffs of fior di latte extending in all directions even past the horizon. Instead of angels, I see water buffalo; in place of golden gates I see giant wooden barrel vats with fresh curds floating in green whey.

So too, apparently, do the Curd Nerds over in Switzerland. Today's New York Times has a fascinating article on a Swiss farmer who has begun making mozzarella from the milk of the water buffalo, in part a response to the burgeoning love for the cheese among the Swiss. Of course, Switzerland is perhaps

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