Janet Fletcher is a staff food writer and cheese columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle. Recently, Curdnerds.com chatted with her about her love of cheese, as well as a beautiful new iPhone app based on her book Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing, and Enjoying.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
Describe your interest in cheese and how it started.
Which pairs better with cheese? Wine or Beer? Why?
Which cheeses make you swoon?
What advice can you give to a cheese newbie overwhelmed by the selection available at their local shop?
How do you recommend people learn more about cheese if they are interested?
What respectable curd nerd has not, for even a moment, contemplated leaving the rat race, moving to a farm, and making their own cheese? Well, lest there be any doubt that being a cheesemaker is easy business, check out this recent post that Kris Noiseux of Meadowstone Farm published to a cheesemaking listserv:
Thanks to all the hard-working cheesemakers out there! We appreciate you!
It's a question I am asked frequently, and my answer is always the same, "Yes, but you'll know it if it's so spoiled that you can't eat it." That's kind of a loaded answer though, because many people think that cheeses that are perfectly fine have spoiled. For instance, Époisses is so stinky that it smells spoiled even when it's perfectly ripe! That said, if a cheese is so smelly you can't bear to eat, don't. (But make sure you find the nearest curd nerd and ask them if they would want it!)
In fact, cheese is just milk that has spoiled in a controlled way, so asking whether spoiled milk can spoil is kind of a non-question. But maybe you want some more details. The folks over at Philadelphia's DiBruno Bros. have published an extensive blog entry on cheese spoilage. Definitely worth a read!
Here are some general suggestions about how to properly store cheese at home. The challenge is that cheese needs an environment that fulfills seemingly contradictory needs; it needs to be somewhere where air can flow in and out, but where moisture loss is kept at a minimum.
If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!
The endless debate over raw milk continues today with a balanced article in the Dining Section of the NY Times. For obvious reasons, I kind of wish they'd cover the debate as it affects cheeses, especially since raw milk cheeses are generally even safer than raw milk itself.
Today's Salon.com has a thoughtful and balanced article about the benefits and the dangers of consuming raw milk. The only downside to the article is that it doesn't explore the benefits of using raw milk for cheese production. While the case can definitely made that drinking raw milk is a somewhat dangerous proposition, eating raw milk cheeses that are made in clean environments under strict practices is considered safe. In an age where eating spinach is more dangerous than eating cheese, journalists would do well to investigate issues of food safety much more deeply, and bring out exactly what foods are safe to eat and why.