15 April 2011
One thing I miss about being married to a Lebanese man is the food. More specifically, the Labneh. In earlier years, a starving artist in NYC, I used to bring lunch to work. In spite of a tight pocketbook, I’ve always had a vow to wow, homemade lunches included in the lifestyle. There was no bologna and cheese sandwich in my little mini-Igloo, no sir. It was all about labneh sandwiches rolled with zataar, fresh mint and basil leaves, cucumber and tomato into a lavash, doused with olive oil and held together with aluminum foil until lunchtime.
One of Culture’s recent articles has taken a particular amusing to my taste buds… the latest cheese-companion, mostarda. I am, and have always been, an addict for all things with a kick. A kick, that is, from pungent chemicals in food. Gingerol in ginger, piperine in peppercorns, capsaicin in chillis, allicin in garlic (although I must admit that I tend to avoid garlic due to the horrific oral “hangover” that it insists upon) and probably my favourite of them all – allyl isothiocyanates in horseradish, wasabi and mustard.
What tantalizing effects this chemical brings to your palate. A refreshing and invigorating tingle that takes the eating experience to a whole new dimension. For this reason, I am exceptionally keen on trying mostarda, especially with some of the delicious artisan cheeses that I have been sampling recently through my work with Culture.
Please put some on my cheese!
As much as my appetite and senses are currently tuned to cheese and other fermented/cured products of the cheese shop, this time of year (spring/summer) my diet is relieved to squeeze in a few green things. Eating locally is rewarding yet not always affordable. Since I have never claimed or intend on becoming a hunter or farmer (though I’ll carry the upmost respect) foraging is a small means of sustaining myself. Plus, it’s down-right-fun to find ‘needle-in-a-haystack’ spots, keeping them secret to let my ‘forager’ ego grow.
Ramps tend to be the first sign of the unveiling foraging season. They are bountiful enough that no secrets need to be kept except perhaps the recipes that they are deemed for. There are grilled ramps, sautéed ramps, pickled ramps, ramp soup, ramp pesto, and an infinite imagination of applications and techniques.
I just can't get the image out of my head of shoes made of cheese, so I've just GOT to blog about it.
The MailOnline posted this piece yesterday: A fashion student from Bath Spa University designed and made a pair 'Jimmy Cheese' shoes using bread and West Country cheddar, and they will be displayed at the 2011 Royal Bath & West Show to promote the region's cheese.
"The budding fashionista sculpted ablock of cheddar to make the heel, and a stale cheese sandwich was used for part of the platform sole. The front of the shoe was moulded from more cheddar and extra cheese was melted and shaped to embellish the design."
I'm so impressed...and I am dying to try them on. Of course, I can't stop wondering if they do smell and if they are comfortable...and if they actually would stand up to a night on the town (not in rainy London, I'm guessing...) At any rate, it's certainly peaked my attention and that was what it was the point, right?
03 April 2011 Sonoma, CA I have no internet, nor even a chair for that matter. My furniture is coming next week. I have only what went to Italy with me, plus a few things I’ve needed since landing. There is dust everywhere from renovation, yet inches below are a fantastic kitchen and an entire house with tiled floors and a garden. My new home in Sonoma. But right now I can only see brooms, my trashed socks, white pawprints on everything, and the air mattress where Lincoln the Dachshund and I sleep folded like a taco under a 1970s sleeping bag. The past two weeks Lincoln and I have been sleeping in the loft portion of an R.V.
April is bright and blowy, warm like summer, cold like winter - plenty of weather. We all cheer up as the days get longer, the light gets brighter, nature fizzes with the wild dance of high spring. Birds everywhere take on the business of breeding, endless feeding. The ravens in the wood on the hillside spend all their time scolding - who? Each other? Badgers are about a lot at night: all ours look healthy, fat: we see the guardian boars, who roam the edge of the territory keeping their families safe. The wild boar sows have piglets, making them off limits: each one producing 6 -12 young. They will defend their young vigorously, so walkers need to keep dogs on leads, you don’t want the dog running back to you with a stroppy mum in hot pursuit.
15th 18th is fast approaching!*
culture readers, what will April
16 19th look like? Will you celebrate your rebate with Champagne and Epoisses, or tighten your belt with tapwater and dry rinds?
We're giving away a pair of prizes to spur your bacchanal or help loft you over the lean times!
Post your ideal apres-filing menu, along with your estimated payment or return (the contest is anonymous, but you wouldn't cheat on your taxes, right?). A crack team of financial experts headed by culture's own long-suffering bookkeeper Roland Timmons will select one winner each each from the most luxurious, and the most abject proposals.
The Culture Cheese Wrap Contest evolved from Elaine’s experience at the Cheesemonger Contest by Larkin Cheese Distributors in New York. Among many other parts of the event, Elaine thought that the cheese wrapping would be a particularly successful and fun idea for California's Artisan Cheese Festival. We created a two-part competition for both cheese consumers and professionals, giving every cheese-lover the chance to show off their skills in the art of the Cheese Wrap.
The competition proved very fun indeed. Congratulations to the winner of the amateur competition – Mike Lucia from Copain Wines! We hope you enjoy the prizes.
A recent trip to Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, NY leaves me pondering the binary relationship between inside and outside – in this case, between the cheese-room and the barnyard. Colin McGrath, cheese-maker at the farm, appropriately starts the tour of the dairy in the open-air, within sight of the cows (Jerseys, Normandes, and Swiss). As we move closer to the cheese-room, it becomes increasingly apparent that the functional connection between the bucolic domain of the cows and the world of the cheese-maker in his sterilized lab reveals cheesemaking as a symbolic act – the framing and crafting of nature.
Yesterday, I attended my second event with Culture: The California Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma, California, what a fabulous event it was.
My eyes were overwhelmed by the selection of cheeses on display. There were towering cliffs of delicious blue from Point Reyes, brand new Wagon Wheel melting cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery, award-winning cheddars from Fiscalini, plenty of creamy goat cheeses from Laura Chenel and of course so much more.
Amongst the stunning array of fine cheeses, I came across some remarkable new finds. Goat milk fudge, wine infused cookies, olive oil chocolate, peanut butter sandwich cookies, mini lemon meringue pies, exclusive olive oils, bacon bread, an exciting new product called “glop” (made from a selection of oils and cheeses), and I was thrilled about bumping into a familiar item that I fell in love with at Cochon 555 – my beloved toffee bacon lollipop! (I bagged myself three little piggies! Does this make me a big piggie?!)