It's getting cold in Tomales!
Which means it's almost Winter, which means it's almost January 31st, which means it's almost time to build the creamery if we want to stay on track!
Amazingly, Seana and Dave finished composing all the drafts for the Building Dept. to review before being officially submitted. To me, this feels like a huge step forward. Also, the cheese vat is due to arrive soon! It feels like waiting for a baby to be born...is it here yet?? Have we reached the due date?? I'm sure it's even more exciting for Seana and Dave, since it's really their vat and their creamery being developed. But ultimately I, too, will use the space (hopefully sooner rather than later), so I feel pretty elated at the progress. It doesn't actually feel real yet, as most dreams-come-true probably don't at first. But I bet once the jackhammer hits the concrete, reality will hit me, too.
Each September the Big E Fair is held in Springfield, MA, and for the past three years Molly Hopper has been invited to help a panel of six judges choose the best cheeses from a selection of over 150 from across the US. Hopper, who oversees the cheese program at Eastern Standard decided that she wanted to recreate the judging process at Eastern Standard.
How the Winners were Chosen
I may be biased, but I have to hold my hands up and say that I think that the Crème Fraiche made by Neal’s Yard Creamery is easily the best I have ever tasted. Since leaving London it’s been missing from my life and I had just about kidded myself that I didn’t miss it all that much, until I tried some again and all pretence was gone. Damn that stuff is good. I could sit down with a great big pot and a great big spoon and be one very happy girl. Of course, it does everything a crème fraiche should: accompanies a chocolate tart or apple pie, gives a silky, lovely texture to everything cooked with it. You can cook with it, but hey why not just sit down and stuff your face with it neat.
One of my favorite visits in my recent trip to Wisconsin was our tour and tasting at Chalet Cheese Cooperative led by Master Cheesemaker Myron Olson, who is the only certified Limburger maker in the US (Myron is also certified in Baby Swiss, Brick and "German Brick," or bierekase). He is a tome of information, and a jolly, contented, white-mustached soul who is both proud and practical.
It’s so lovely when you like your neighbors. Granted, sometimes I don’t think I like all of mine, but there are some awesome ones in my building! One in particular, Melissa, is an excellent hostess who ALWAYS manages to have the perfect little plates, utensils, and pretty finishing touches at every event she hosts.
This past week, Melissa made this dessert – she called it lazy cannoli. It was delicious, easy, and downright enlightening. Even a kitchen klutz like me could make it. As someone who thinks about efficiency a lot, is this “lazy” or merely “highly efficient?" Anyway, try it for yourselves! Beware, though, you might not want to share it once you taste it.
Melissa’s “Lazy Cannoli” Recipe
15oz Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup Confectioners Powdered Sugar
Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips to taste (around 1/2 cup as well). You can grate a dark chocolate bar instead of using mini chocolate chips.
Optional: some diced Maraschino Cherries to taste
After a period of reflection and repair in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the judges have reached their decision on our 2012 Scary Dairy Contest.
First prize goes to Erin Thorne's gooey tale of cheese voodoo
Erin Thorne's story "I'm Melting" starts strong, establishes characterization right off the bad and ends with the perfect blend of horror and dairy. The cheese is integral to the plot without being obvious.
Erin Thorne, with her tale of scorned love and Voodoo dolls of cheddar, wins first place. Her original idea and clever execution (of the words and of the antagonist) made the perfect Scary Dairy tale.
Kristi Petersen Schoonover:
Leaves whirl off the trees, darkness comes early, the briefly lighter mornings darken too. The sun rises closer to the south, and at noon gets lower every day. A walk through the woods is a walk through lots of leaves, before they start breaking down to leaf litter. The last of the apples come off the trees, a rich cider smell rises, reproaching us for the apples we didn’t pick. I saw a robin, bold and curious, with that intensely sweet song, sitting on the wall in a watery gleam of sun, king in his own territory, now the noisy summer visitors have gone. The fallow deer finish their rut, that disembodied roaring, a challenge to other bucks, and I guess alluring to the comfortable groups of does waiting the outcome with complacency.
There’s a cheese that took me a while to fall for, and it’s only made in the autumn and winter, from milk that’s suited for just this recipe. The cheese? Vacherin. It has a long history and comes from both France and Switzerland—though some American cheesemakers have adopted the idea and are making excellent domestic versions of the style.
It's November. My goal is that the creamery will be ready to rock on January 15th. We have yet to obtain ANY permits. Needless to say, I’m feeling anxious and frustrated with the slow pace at which things seem to be moving. On Monday I had a massive migraine for the first time in many months, hmm… I wonder what could be the cause.