curdnerd's blog

The return of the forums!

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I have been a member of the Artisan Cheesemakers Yahoo Group for a while now, and I just received the following email in my inbox:

From today, January 1, 2007, Artisan_Cheesemakers list will be on permanent hiatus. Messages will no longer be posted, and new members will not be added, but the Archives will remain open for the moment, while I figure out if there's any way (or reason) to save them.

This decision is final. Please don't write me. All good things come to an end, and its always best to move on when they do. Best wishes to those who followed me through this adventure. Good luck to all with your cheesemaking,
Julia Farmer
Listowner

I've always felt that this was one of more informative, active mailing lists out there, and it's a shame that it's gone. In response, though, we are bringing back the discussion forums to Curdnerds.com. These bulletin boards were up (in a somewhat different form) when we first launched the site, but we took them down due to lack of interest. However, now that the Artisan Cheesemakers list is gone, we thought maybe there would be a place for forums like this. Obviously forums are different than a mailing list, but our hunch is that most people prefer checking discussions online rather than getting a slew of emails in their inbox every day.

So, please go check out the forums, post a topic or two, and definitely let us know if you have any problems, questions or suggestions!

CheddarVision

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West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers, an association of small British cheddar producers whose ranks include some of the best in the world, has announced one of the greatest website ideas ever. Beginning January 1, 2007, visitors to Cheddarvision.tv will be treated to a live webcam of an actively aging West Country Farmhouse Cheddar. Since these cheeses are aged for one year, the cheese will be ready to eat on January 1, 2008!

Now I know what you're going to say: watching a cheese age is quite a soporific endeavor. In fact, the West Country Cheesemakers acknowledge this very notion in their press release: "Some might say this is the most boring website of 2007, but our cheese is worth waiting for so it’s better than watching paint dry...just.”

New Cabot OU Kosher Cheese

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Cabot Cheese, legendary Vermont cheese makers, have announced a new line of OU-certified Kosher cheeses, just in time for Chanukkah. Previously, Cabot's cheeses were certified kosher by the Tablet K agency, one which many observant Jews believe to offer an inadequate seal. OU, by contrast, is accepted on a much wider scale, and so this offering from Cabot should delight many kosher consumers. See the

A Cheese Plate for the Yuletide Season

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A selection of cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont
A colleague asked me recently to help him design a cheese plate for his company's holiday party, based on the wines he had already picked out. I suggested the following:

Sparkling:

  • NV Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine, Brut/ Anderson
    Valley

This would be fantastic with a lush triple-crème like Brillat-Savarin or Pierre Robert. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it! It will also be a hit at the party, people simply love triple-crèmes (just don't let them get a cholesterol test afterwards).

Think Outside the Bug

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This post isn't about cheese specifically, but does cover important issues facing the dairy industry. Please forgive a slightly off-topic rant for an increasingly urgent message.

News broke on Sunday that 11 people, the youngest being a one year-old infant, had caught the E. coli bug from eating at Taco Bell restaurants in three different counties in New Jersey. Today, reports are revising that number to as many as 50 cases, spread over three states.

Les From' Girls sont de retour

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Just about a year ago, we mentioned a calendar being released by Fromages de Terroirs, a French non-profit devoted to regional cheese, that would feature every month a different scantily-clad woman posing with an equally scantily-clad block of cheese. Well, the 2007 edition has been released, with some fresh, umm, faces in the mix.

From the press release:

Misses Estelle Livarot, Adeline Camembert, Adèle Pont l’Évêque, Bérénice Brie de Meaux, Barbara Munster, Apolline du Crottin de Chavignol, Emma de la Tomme de Savoie, Éléonore de Mont d’Or, Eva Morbier are joined by three new young faces making their first appearance in the 2007 calendar: Clara Chaource, Solène de Selles-sur-Cher and Elsa de la Fourme d’Ambert.

The calendar is available for purchase now on the the Fromages de Terroirs website. The cost is 15€ and all profits will go to help promote awareness of the organization.

The Hervé Way

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Maybe it's the bright colors, or the lofty ceilings, or perhaps it's the baroque selection of fantastic cheeses. Whatever it is, there's something about the Murray's store on Bleecker Street that evokes for me all the excitement and grandeur of the opera. And like any good opera house, Murray's even has a President's Box, ensconced in a small loft in the rear of the store. I refer of course to the cozy, low-ceilinged room where Murray's holds their Cheese Course Classes, seminars on all things cheese from basic tasting techniques, to beverage pairings, to explorations of geography and terroir. Where else would one want to be to savor some poignant arias sung by the world's greatest cheeses?

Cheese of the Week - Vacherin Mont d'Or

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All this talk of turkeys makes me think of...cheese! Nothing says fall like Vacherin Mont d'Or, a small washed rind round made in the Alps on both sides of the French/Swiss border. Also known as Vacherin du Haut-Doubs (but not to be confused with Vacherin Fribourgeois), it is traditionally made with late-season cow's milk that is too high in fat and protein content to make Comté or Gruyère. Because of this the cheese is aged for a much shorter period of time than Comté and Gruyère, and so peak ripeness is usually seen in the fall and winter months (October through March). At peak ripeness, the cheese is soft and runny, and is therefore wrapped in a spruce band and shipped in a circular wooden box. Since the cheese spends a fair amount of time in this environment, the wood lends a subtle flavor to the finished cheese. The golden rind, which still shows imprints from the cheesecloth used during production, hides a pale yellow, unctuous yet mild paste. The cow's milk used to make Vacherin Mont d'Or is typically raw, but since the cheese is only aged for three weeks, specimens found in the US are necessarily pasteurized. Enjoy with a Beaujolais Nouveau, another autumnal delight!

Making Syrian Cheese

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The time commitment demanded by a 2-month old baby drives the hobbyist cheese maker to cut some serious corners. Gone (for now) are the 8 hour days molding and flipping Camembert rounds. As are the 24-hour pressing times required of the Swiss-style alpine cheeses. My cheese making appetite would need to be satiated in other ways...

Enter Syrian cheese, also known as Jiben, a fresh, friable cheese--one of the easiest cheeses to make. Syrian cheese actually comes in many different varieties, one of which is sort of like a braided mozzarella, but the one I made is more like a salty Paneer, or Queso Fresco. It's got a very fresh, milky taste, with a firm but elastic texture. It's traditionally used in pilafs and pasta dishes, as well as omelets (edgehs), but it's probably also good with sweet dried fruit like dates, raisins or figs.

It couldn't be easier to make*. Bring 1 gallon of good-quality milk to 88° F. Gently stir in 1 tsp. of double strength liquid rennet, and let sit for

Anonymous Commenting is Back!

In an effort to encourage more commenting from you, our faithful readers, we have made anonymous commenting possible once again. We'd originally removed this feature because the comment spam was getting out of control, but now we use a system that can better identify the real curd nerds from the spammers (no doubt vegans). So now that you no longer need to register to post comments, let's hear from you!

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