Bloomy-rind

Cheese of the Week - St. Marcellin

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There's gold in them thar hills! From the Isère departement in the French Alps comes the ooey, gooey, utterly delectable St. Marcellin. Best served with a spoon, it is so soft and creamy that it comes to America in a little ceramic crock pot so that it can survive its arduous trans-Atlantic journey. It is usually aged for one month (which means that peak season is right about now) and has a hearty flavor that is at once mushroomy and barnyardy.

Cheese of the Week - Bucheron

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You are the breathless hush of evening
That trembles on the brink of a lovely song.

Like Jerome Kern's jazz standard, "All the Things You Are," Bucheron is one of those cheeses that, no matter how many times you experience it, you're never disappointed. A French goat cheese covered in a white bloomy rind, it is the paradigmatic "chevre": dry yet creamy, semi-firm yet flaky, simple but not simplistic, with a gamey flavor that is neither overwhelming nor understated. "Bucheron" means "logger" in French, and it is so called, presumably, because the cheese itself is formed in the shape of a log. It is traditionally aged for about 2 months, and is a great cheese for sandwiches. I love to add it to grilled zucchini and onions on a warm baguette. Magnifique!

Cheese of the Week - Fromage d'Affinois

Every year, one of the vendors I work with uses his connection with a cheese monger at Dean & Deluca to bring our office an incredible cheese platter. He did not disappoint this year, bringing an array of cheeses, grapes, crusty baguettes, sopressata and pâte. Even better was the fact that it arrived on Tuesday, the first day of the transit strike, so those of us who actually showed up for work were rewarded with larger-than-normal portions of fromage.

The cheeses on the platter displayed a nice variety of textures and tastes, as well as ages and milk-types. There was the famous pyrimidal Valençay, a soft French goat cheese; Crottin de Chavignol, another French goat but flakier than Valençay; Pyrenées Brebis, a Basque sheep cheese; Pecorino Marzolino, a Tuscan sheep cheese that is rubbed with tomatoes during aging; and, finally, Fromage d'Affinois, the Cheese of the Week.

E. Coli Outbreak in UK

Reuter's is reporting today on an outbreak in the UK of E. Coli in some unpasteurized French cheeses. The recall involves some varieties of A.O.C. Camembert made in France by Laiterie Fromagerie du Val d'Ay-Etablissement Reaux.

I don't know much about this firm, but according to their website they harvest milk from "auprès d'une centaine de producteurs," or nearly 100 producers. That means that milk from many different cows are being comingled to make the cheese, and only one of those cows has to be infected with E. Coli to infect an entire batch of cheese. Then again, they do say on their website that they check for bacterial quality of the milk they use, so it's puzzling that they could've missed such an outbreak.

In any case, this will certainly heat up the debate over the safety of young raw milk cheeses.

Cheeses of the Week - Monte Enebro & Hoch Ybrig

Monte Enebro is a moist, semi-soft goat's milk cheese from Avila, a town in the southern part of the Castile province in Spain. It is covered in mottled rind, part ash and part mold, that imparts an intense, tangy flavor. Pair with a Muscat or Cava.

Hoch Ybrig is a pressed cow's milk cheese from Switzerland made in the summer months in the Alps. It is quite similar to Gruyere, but it is washed in a white wine brine during aging, making it slightly sweeter than its more famous cousin. Pairs well with a Riesling.

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