curdnerd's blog

Wisconsin Cheesemakers in Their Own Voices

wisdairy.jpgEd Janus, radio Journalist and Wisconsin resident for over 35 years, has created a wonderful site filled with audio conversations and slideshows that profile a group of dairy farmers and cheesemakers from America's Dairyland. Some of the best and most influential American cheesemakers are profiled, such as Sam and Sid Cook of the award winning Carr Valley Cheese, Mike Gingrich, maker of Pleasant Ridge Reserve, and the Crave Brothers, whose Farmstead Fresh Mozzarella is absolutely heavenly.

Via Cheese Underground.

Cheddarvision Update: Wedginald Auctioned on Ebay

cheddarvision.jpgWedginald, the British Farmstead Cheddar whose year-long aging process has been mercilessly broadcast 24/7 on Cheddarvision.tv, is being auctioned off for charity on Ebay. As of today, Wedginald has been maturing for almost 11 months, and according to the Cheddarvision website will be ready to eat "before Christmas." The current high bid is £520, which comes to almost $1100 with the U.S. dollar as weak as it is. Expensive, yes, but can you really put a price on history? All proceeds will be donated to BBC Children in Need.

Food & Wine's Great American Cheese Plate

fw_american_cheese.jpgThe November issue of Food & Wine has a little feature on creating an American Cheese Plate by Laura Werlin, a noted expert on American artisan cheeses and author of a new reference book called Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials. In the piece, Werlin lists 24 great American cheeses (with descriptions) organized into 7 categories. There's also a sidebar that lists some retail shops around the country where these cheeses are available.

Obikà Coming to New York City

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According to the Manhattan User's Guide, Obikà, a "mozzarella bar" that originated in Rome, will open a location in midtown Manhattan (in the plaza of the IBM Building, 590 Madison Ave., between 56th and 57th) in early December. MUG says:

Obikà became a hit in the Eternal City when it opened in 2004, conceived as a kind of sushi bar that plied its trade with buffalo instead of fish. You can expect the same mozzarella sampler and other small plates starring the Italian cheese.

Purchase Mozzarella di Bufala for $9.99/lb at iGourmet.

Video: The Amateur Gourmet Visits Murray's Cheese

This week the Amateur Gourmet has a great video up that chronicles a recent visit he made to Murray's Cheese. In it he learns about the main differences between cow, goat, and sheep's milk cheeses, about what distinguishes real British farmstead Cheddar from others, and about one of the best French blue cheeses available stateside, Persillé de Malzieu. Nathan, the cheesemonger featured in the video, has helped me on a number of occasions lately, and is a really great, friendly, knowledgeable guy.

So You Want to Work on a Farm?

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Any curd nerd worth her salt has at some point considered trying her hand at professional cheesemaking. If you want to take the next step, check out smalldairy.com, a relatively new website with resources for people starting and growing their own small dairy. One of the newest pages on the site lists internships, apprenticeships and jobs, free of charge. There are only a few listings there now, but I'm sure it will grow. This page also has a pretty funny paragraph on how crazy the life and work of a cheesemaker can be:

Dairy farming and small-scale processing are some of the hardest jobs you can take on. They require physical and emotional strength, perseverance, patience, flexibility, good observational skills, love of and respect for animals and ability to maintain routines. You may be required to stay up all night, get up in the dark or otherwise interrupt your sleep to check on animals or cheese. You may have to work outdoors in all kinds of weather, you might get really dirty or even splattered with manure. If you work at a creamery you may be required to interact with the public. For some reason, people do it anyway. The benefits and rewards of dairy farming keep many people going in spite of the hardships.

Pennsylvania Wine and Cheese

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For those of you in the Northeast U.S. who are interested in supporting the local wine and cheese industries, the Pennsylvania-based Berks County Wine Trail is hosting an Artisan Wine and Cheese Pairing fundraiser on October 13th and 14th.

Ticket-holders will be able to sample, at each winery’s tasting room, a broad spectrum of the award-winning wines that hallmark Berks County’s wine community; plus, experience first hand, locally made cheese -- crafted by area cheesemakers.

Immerse Yourself in Cheese

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I like to troll the Internets for interesting looking cheese classes, and two in particular jumped out at me recently. This fall, Artisanal and Murray's are both offering intensive educational experiences that cater to the serious enthusiast (a.k.a. curd nerd) and to the food professional.

Murray's class, called Cheese U, is an intenstive six-week course designed to give attendees a well-rounded education in all things cheese. The class starts with an introduction and orientation, and continues with a detailed look at the different types of milk used to make cheese, the history and geography of this great food, followed by a look at cheesemaking, affinage (the art of aging cheese) and beverage pairing. The course is pricey at $795, but in addition to the classes themselves you get a "required reading list," take home assignments, a final exam and a Certificate of Achievement upon completion.

Artisanal's Master Class: Intensive Class for Professionals is largely geared towards food professionals (and comes with a correspondingly high price tag at $1200), but promises to spend a full 2 1/2 days covering "the entire world of cheese, from milk types to cheesemaking, affinage to appreciation, placing an emphasis on service, selection, and proper care of cheeses for the foodservice professional." With instructors like Max McCalman and Daphne Zepos, this class should prove to be truly enlightening.

Video of Vermont's Peaked Mountain Farms on CNN

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Today on CNN.com there's a short but interesting video piece about retired real estate agent Bob Works and the sheep farm he runs, Peaked Mountain Farms. Peaked Mountain Farms is in Townsend, VT, and is one of the farms that makes Vermont Shepherd cheese.

Blogging Cheesemakers

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It's old hat to see blogs by cheese mongers, or other dairy heads, but I have yet to see many blogs from cheese makers themselves. After all, making cheese is so time-consuming, what cheese maker in his or her right mind would choose to spend the little free time they had on blogging? Well there are a couple of new blogs to report on that signal perhaps a new trend, both are from cheese makers who are in the trenches working hard to make the cheeses you and I love to eat.

The first is from LittleFfarm Dairy, a start-up artisan goat cheese maker in South West Wales, UK. Their blog is a daily journal, tracking their progress as they start the business with a herd of pedigree British Toggenburg goats. I don't know how these folks have the time to raise goats, make cheese, AND blog, but I'm glad they do, because the blog really adds a personal dimension to their operation that you don't get with too many other dairies.

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