In one of the hottest trends in dairy right now, companies in Europe and the U.S. are moving to create innovative products that contain added probiotic cultures, microorganisms thought to confer health benefits when ingested in adequate amounts. In January 2006, Dannon introduced Activia, a yogurt supplemented with live Bifidus Regularis bacteria, to the American market. And with each passing month it seems more and more companies are hopping on the probiotic bandwagon; Italian cheesemaker Bidino recently announced a new line of cheeses containing probiotic cultures.
On September 15 and 16, members of the Upper Hudson Farmstead & Artisanal Cheesemakers are opening their operations to the public, giving people a chance to meet the cheesemakers and watch them as they craft some of the best farmstead cheeses in America. Visitors will also be able to meet the beautiful sheep, goats and cows that make all the precious raw milk for the cheeses.
The Kosher Blog tells us about two new kosher-certified cheeses on the market, an exciting development in a category that has long been woefully slim. The first offering is an Organic cheddar from New Zealand-based Mainland Cheese. It's made with milk from grass-fed cows and features the OK kosher certification. The other is a group of raw milk cheeses from 5 Spoke Creamery, including Red Vine Colby, Redmond Cheddar, and Herbal Jack. The cheeses are made in Pennsylvania by Amish farmer Henry Lapp and certified kosher by Kof-K.
First the Murray's/Kroger deal, and now this: American Home Food Products, a publicly-traded company with a market cap of today of $2 million, has acquired Artisanal Cheese, LLC in a deal meant to help make Artisanal "the leading national brand for best-in-class cheeses." Clearly there is a trend afoot here, with the greater food industry waking up to the fact that the artisanal cheese market is growing at leaps and bounds, and is comparable to other recent growth trends in areas like micro-beers and small coffee roasters. And with the specialty cheese market at an estimated $6 billion (according to the SEC filing for this deal), it makes sense that some large companies are standing up and taking notice. It will be interesting to continue to watch this trend play out, especially what effect it might have on the quality and availability of both domestic and imported cheeses.
Via Pacific Northwest Cheese Project.
Head on over to The Jew and the Carrot where they've posted an interview with me discussing my home cheesemaking endeavors. The Jew and the Carrot is a blog dedicated to "the intersection between Jews, food and contemporary life," and is a project of the environmental Jewish organization Hazon.
P.S. I am Jewish, but I'm not too into carrots. At least when they're raw.
This just in: The Kroger Co., one of the largest supermarket retailers in the U.S., has struck a deal with New York City's Murray's Cheese to help expand Kroger's selection of specialty cheeses. According to the press release, beginning in 2008, Kroger will offer Murray's cheeses in select stores. Kroger's sales in 2006 were in excess of $60 billion, making this announcement hugely important in the world of specialty cheese. If successful, it will signal a giant step in the mainstreaming of fine cheese in this country, and will also encourage other large grocery retailers to follow suit. It is certainly a story to watch as it develops, so stay tuned to Curdnerds.com for more details!
I was reminiscing on my changing relationship to American cheese, specifically yellow slices wrapped in plastic. Once, as an American kid, I ate my share of grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers. Later, as a supermarket dairy supervisor, I reset all the dairy cases in our company to give this product its maximum shelf space for sales and profit. Still later, as Murray's proprietor, I scorned it, dismissing it for all the usual reasons a cheesemonger might.
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July 29, 2007
German & Austrian Wines and Cheeses
We in the food business all have our obsessions, whether they be cheese, or soil or Dolcetto grapes, but our dear Derek has a borderline-unhealthy obsession with white wines from Germany and Austria. While other delicious grapes of note reside in these countries, he is most especially particular about Riesling and Gruner Veltliner. Derek and Julie spent their honeymoon travelling through these countries, sipping wine at every turn, and want to share what they learned on their trip.