Visited the Old San Juan Farmers Market on Saturday. So colorful and full of foods I couldn't identify without asking what they were. Also...my first ever purchase of fresh annatto (achiote) seeds as well as tastes of some fantastic local foods.
Although the market is still young and as yet quite small, there was such a great atmosphere and feeling of camaraderie. I can't wait to go back!
As charted in last summer’s Culture article Made in Japan, Japanese interest in all things artisanal cheese is undergoing a meteoric rise.
In addition to Japanese-produced cheeses finding more favor on their home turf, increased interest is resulting in more importation of both European and American farmstead and artisanal cheeses.
Over the course of the last five years, a collaborative effort has been hatching between the Artisan Cheese Exchange, based in Wisconsin and KEN International, a Japanese company owned by cheese expert Mr Hisada, to import and sell American artisan cheese through their 20+ cheese shops. The shops are clean, cheese is carefully selected and well merchandised and their staff is very well trained.
I was extremely saddened to hear of the recent death of Mandy Reed, cheesemaker and owner of Swaledale Cheese Company in North Yorkshire, UK.
Mandy and her husband David, took over the production of Swaledale in 1987. At that time, the only producer left making traditional Swaledale was Mrs Longstaff of Harkerside above Reeth in Swaledale, who had retired from cheesemaking, effectively rendering Swaledale extinct.
The recipe was shrouded in mystery and had been handed down Mrs Longstaff’s family for generations. However, in November 1986 Mrs Longstaff gave the original recipe to David & Mandy Reed and, acting as chief taster, she helped them to re-establish an authentic Swaledale cheese.
One of the unexpected pleasures of my job is developing ongoing e-mail exchanges with readers. These are usually triggered by questions or concerns, wishing to share stories of cheese-related activities or simply feedback on articles we've put out there.
Some time last year, I received an e-mail from a lovely Italian lady, Paola, now living in the Philadelphia area. Paola was homesick for good Italian ricotta and wrote to ask if we knew of any sources of either domestically produced or imported ricotta that might assuage her craving. She had tried Bellwether Farm's ricotta and loved it, but it was hard to find on the east coast in good condition, so then started buying Calabro hand-dipped ricotta, which sadly she can no longer find.
Despite relatively little external fanfare, last week saw a significant milestone for North American artisanal cheese with the official inauguration of the North American Chapter of the International Guilde de Fromagers.
The Guilde, a non profit organization, was established in 1969 by noted French affineur Pierre Androuet with a view to promoting and connecting the work of cheese professionals around the world while also helping to maintain standards of cheese knowledge.
With American artisanal cheese’s meteoric rise in recent years, it is no surprise that several members of the cheese industry from North America have been inducted into the Guilde. However until last week, they had to be inducted into other Chapters (such as Canada) since North America did not have a Chapter of its own.
Despite consuming vast amounts of cheese at San Francisco’s Fancy Food Show last week, I couldn’t resist signing up for Betty Koster’s class about cheese and tea pairing held at The Cheese School of San Francisco last Wednesday evening.
Betty and her husband Martin are proprietors of Fromagerie l’Amuse a business consisting of two cheese stores and an affineur operation located in the Netherlands. They have been at the forefront of raising the bar in terms of working with Dutch cheesemakers to improve existing recipes as well as encouraging the creation of new ones.
In addition to being an expert on Dutch cheeses, Betty has recently delved into the intriguing world of tea and cheese pairing which (hooray) turns out to be both fascinating and good for you.
Here's a very encouraging fact; the number of cheese festivals is on the increase. How do I know this? Simple. Because my calendar, which in previous years resembled a cheese "social desert", is now chocka-full of cheese-related events - especially during the summer months.
Cheese Festivals come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from the most traditional, centuries-old institutions, to newly formed events launched for the first time in 2011. Either way, each are more than worthy of your support and you're guaranteed to come away richer (and fuller) for the experience.
Here, in no order of preference, is a personal round-up of those certain to make it onto my calendar. I have divided them geographically into North American and overseas.
What do you get if you combine 2700 cheeses with 216 international cheese judges? Answer: Today's World Cheese Awards held at the NEC in Birmingham England. Amazingly, 75% of the cheeses represented were from overseas producers and judges were also drawn from countries as diverse as Russia, South Africa and Mexico.
For the overall winner, Ossau Iraty made by Agour of France, the win was an incredible case of deja vu since they also won the competition in 2006 - remember this was out of 2700 cheeses!
The USA should be justly proud of the many awards given to some of its best producers including Sartori who took overall third place, Beatje Farms who won a Super Gold Medal plus cleaning up several Silver and Bronze awards, Rivers Edge Chevre with a Silver for their Mayor of Nye Beach, Leelanau Cheese Co for their Aged Raclette and Fiscalini who won a Gold for their Lionza.
Just announced... the official results and winners of this year's American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) cheese competition. http://www.americandairygoatproducts.org/2011_cheese_winners.htm.
The competition was judged by long time cheese experts Daphne Zepos of Essex Street Cheese and new owner of The Cheese School of San Francisco, and Dr Moshe Rosenberg of UC Davis.
Many, many congratulations to the winners.