Retail-United States

Is affinage all hype?

“And if my humidity is 35 percent different from yours, my cheese is going to taste just as good as yours. It may have a different color of mold on it, but it’ll taste just as good. And yours is going to be twice as expensive, and you’re a highway robber. And you’re contributing to the preciousness and folly of Americans trying to emulate something in France that has nothing to do with quality. It has to do with expedience. Are you getting me here?” - Steve Jenkins, Fairway

Link to the full story from the NY Times. (Read till the end to see the results of the taste test.)

Bush's Legacy

Check out my latest post over at Serious Eats, about George W. Bush's latest (and last?) F.U. to the world: increasing tariffs on Roquefort cheese by 300 percent. Get it while you can, the tariff goes into effect on March 23--unless Obama repeals it before then.

Quick! Free Tickets to an Irish Cheese Tasting in NYC!

The kind folks at Murray’s Cheese are inviting the first 30 of you who R.S.V.P. to the phone number below to an exclusive Irish farmhouse cheese tasting at Ireland House in NYC this Thursday, October 30th, from 6-8 PM. The tasting will be led by Breda Maher from Cooleeney Cheese in the heart of Tipperary. Below are the details.

This will be the kick-off event for a month-long Irish cheese promotion that Murray’s is conducting. As part of the festivities, Murray’s will be featuring Irish cheeses throughout November and hosting tastings with cheesemakers from the country.

What: A free guided tasting of Irish farmhouse cheeses
When: Thursday, October 30th, 6-8 PM
Where: Ireland House, Consulate of Ireland, 345 Park Avenue (bet. 51st and 52nd)
R.S.V.P: Please call Jasmin Mirsal at 212-243-3289, ext. 38

Photograph courtesy of Cooleeney Cheese

8 Cent Mac 'n' Cheese!

Attention cheese-loving New Yorkers: this Tuesday (7/29), Supermac is teaming up with to offer 8-cent mac and cheeses, available all day. Supermac is a mac and cheese mecca here in New York City, offering no fewer than 13 different varieties of the dish.

I've never been to Supermac (and I call myself a Curd Nerd?), though I have been a few times to their very similar downtown competitor S'Mac, which is a great restaurant itself. But it's pretty tough to resist 8-cent mac and cheese, so I'm definitely going to go try it. The website that's co-sponsoring the event seems interesting too; the premise is that you can text-message coupons to your cell phone, and redeem them at stores simply by showing the cashier the text on your phone. Pretty cool idea, and I downloaded a bunch of other coupons for a kosher deli near my office.

I'll be sure to give a full review of Supermac's offerings in the comments below. Check back on Wednesday!

348 7th avenue (btw. 29th - 30th Street)

Artisanal Offers Same Day Delivery in Manhattan (via Rickshaw!)

Artisanal announced today that they have begun a same day delivery service in Manhattan. Cheeses are delivered via rickshaw, and, for now, the service is only available in midtown from 34th Street to 63rd Street. Orders must be received by noon for a 5pm same day delivery.

This is a really cool service and I hope it does well so they can add more neighborhoods. Only certain items can be ordered online, but you can place a custom order by calling the toll free order line (1-877-797-1200).

I'm not located in the delivery area, but if anyone is and has tried out the service, please leave feedback in the comments below!

Obikà Coming to New York City

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.

Immerse Yourself in Cheese

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.

American Home Food Products Purchases Artisanal Cheese

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.

Kroger & Murray's Strike Cheese Deal

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 for more details!

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