curdnerd's blog

Cheese and Wine Counterpoint

This is the first published response that I've found to the wine and cheese study mentioned on this blog a couple weeks ago. Robert Mayfield points to the varieties of cheese that were used in the study, as well as the types of wines they were paired with, and argues that such pairings were doomed to failure from the start.

Which cheeses did she select for this study? One was cheddar. Cheddar? That's not cheese. That's a rubber doorstop. And Monterey jack. Come on, how about something with flavor. There were two blue cheeses. That's good -- until you learn what wines the cheeses were paired with: Only red wines. Talk about skewing the figures to get a desired result. She should work for the Bush administration.

Vintage Year for UK Cheddar

Farmhouse Cheddar from Mary Quicke's Dairy in Devon

The Times reports that 2005 was a vintage year for dairying in the West Country of England, in Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall. The West Country is renowned for its farmhouse cheddars, and last spring saw perfect weather conditions in that area. The air was warm and humid, and the pastures green and lush. The youngest cheddars are aged for 9 months, so we should start seeing these cheeses soon.

Cheesemaking Update

Gruyères-1/29/06
Gruyères at 5 months, 2 weeks and 1 week of age

What you see here is a picture of three homemade cheeses at various stages of aging. They were all made according to Margaret Morris' "Gruyère-style" recipe on p.188 of her book The Cheesemakers Manual, and each one has a fatal flaw. However, "mistakes are the portals of discovery," according to James Joyce, and I intend to use these flaws to improve future batches. I have yet to taste these cheeses, so I don't know exactly what effects these mistakes will have, but they are

Cheese is At Least 8000 Years Old

One of the things I love most about cheese is that, like wine and bread, it is a food whose consumption reminds us of the part we play in the thread of history. It is something that, unlike the Twinkie for example, has been made and eaten for millenia.

Dairy Cooking Vessels

The Discovery Channel reports on two new studies that show that people in Hungary, Romania and Switzerland were making cheeses as early as 8,000 years ago. The researchers analyzed dirty cooking pots (which were dated using conventional carbon and nitrogen isotope dating methods) that still contained ancient fatty residues (mmm!). Analysis of these residues indicated that they were likely from ewe's and goat's milks. Soot on the bottom of the vessels suggested that the milk was probably cooked in some way, leading the scientists to believe that

Prepare to Feel Jealous

The University of Gastronomic Sciences, a project of Slow Food Italy, is taking their first-year students on a trip to the Appenine mountains on the Tuscany/Romagna border. They will learn about the Romagnola cow, one of the oldest breeds, which has gone from a population of about 500,000 in the 1950s to about 15,000 presently. They will also learn about Raviggiolo cheese, which is a creamy, seasonal, raw milk cheese produced in that area. Read all about the trip here.

Cheese of the Week - Mimolette

A friend of mine was in France recently and, knowing well my obsession with cheese, thoughtfully shipped me a little wedge of Mimolette, a beautifully orange hard cow's milk cheese made in Northern France and Belgium. Usually eaten when well aged, it is similar to Dutch Edam but with more sharpness and nuttiness. The orange color comes from annato, a natural dye applied during production, and it deepens over time. Apparently,

Cheese Masks the Taste of Wine

According to a study reported in this week's New Scientist Magazine, eating cheese with wine might actually be a bad idea. The study, conducted by Bernice Madrigal-Galan and Hildegarde Heymann of the University of California, Davis, presented trained wine tasters with four varieties of both cheap and expensive wines. The judges were asked to evaluate the wines alone and then again, preceded by eight varieties of cheese. Apparently the cheese masked most of the flavors in the wines, including sourness and astringency. Butter flavor, if present, was enhanced, but

What is Cheese?

The National Farmers Union, an organization formed to "sustain and strengthen family farms and ranch agriculture," has released a response to the FDA's proposal to change the definition of milk. Now the last time I checked, the definition of milk was pretty straightforward: "A whitish liquid containing proteins, fats, lactose, and various vitamins and minerals that is produced by the mammary glands of all mature female mammals after they have given birth and serves as nourishment for their young." The FDA, however, is proposing to amend the definition of milk, at least as it relates to cheese production. They want to provide for

It's Alpine Cheese Season!

Head over to Murray's far-too-sporadic blog Big Cheese Stories for a fantastic overview of alpine cheeses (my personal favorites), including information about when and how (and even why) they are made, and what characteristics make, say, Abondance different from Comté.

Cheese of the Week - Piave

Similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, Piave is a pressed, aged cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. It is younger and more moist than its cousin, and its dense granulated pâte is much less crumbly and much easier to slice. Its complex flavor and aroma are puncuated by a sharp nuttiness, as well as subtle butterscotch and almond flavors. This bold taste would pair well with an equally bold wine, red or white.

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