As is required by a civilized society bent on projecting introspection (aka Will made me write this)...I've rounded up 5 things I found curious and captivating about 2012. I could run down a list of bad crap, but we've had enough of that for now, yes? So, here they are, in order of how they dawned on me:
In a world gone mad...
1. I'm surprised by how few surprising things there were. This probably either means I'm clueless, inured, or too quirky myself to see quirky for quirky. But if you take a look at Epicurious' prognostications on 2012 (delivered at the end of 2011) you'll see homemade dairy and cheesemakers sitting proud on their list of things to watch for this year. So I guess the fact that 'new trends' scooched a little closer to my reality in 2012 tamps down the 'surprising' factor.
Lots needs to be done to get the creamery project moving, but daily life seems to be getting in my way. Fortunately Seana and Dave are dedicating a lot of their time, and are making most of our progress!
We’re currently trying to obtain permits for plumbing, electrical, and water use. I actually thought this part of the process would go much quicker than it has, since the structure is sound and not too much needs to be done, relatively speaking. But permits take a lot of planning and negotiating. And you have to be willing to revise your plan and negotiate more. So while it’s a full-time job to get these things figured out and crossed off the to-do list, we go to our real jobs during the day, and work on permits in the hours between.
"I opened during the worst part of the recession," Laura Downey says with a chuckle as a coda. Such a statement of entrepreneurial horror isn't often followed with a gentle laugh, but Downey has earned that right. For her, the recession isn't an excuse for a failed business, but something that she has succeeded in spite of. She is the co-owner with Chris Palumbo of the thriving Fairfield Cheese Company in Fairfield, Connecticut, a shop bringing the best in artisan and locally produced cheeses to the Connecticut suburb.
A recent article in Mother Jones examines what Americans are eating overall. Information here is pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and we learn that we now spend more on processed foods than any other food type. This is followed by meats, with dairy now at the bottom!
Wondering why northern Italy got hit twice in short order with earthquakes? I asked Jeffrey Park, coauthor of Dynamic Earth (Read it. It's about the earth you live on. The one we return to, call mother, mine, fight over, and, sadly, the one that puts the terror in terroir). He's a Yale seismologist who works on the seismology of northern Italy. Here’s what he had to say. A warning, there’s strong earth science language in this report, a suggestion that plates are getting stuffed in the mantle, plus a reference to a quake in the 1500s. Reader access to a geological dictionary is advised. ~ Steph
The earthquakes both hit very close to Bologna, where I spent a year's sabbatical while collecting seismic data. I once spent a night in Carpi, where the cathedral roof fell in.
Last night I attended a casual mini trade show in Somerville MA. Gorgeous cheeses from around the world were out and available for sampling - including 6 I'd never tasted before. The crowd was small so you could actually talk to producers, and diverse, which made it interesting. Spain made a big showing, including a range of raw sheeps milk cheeses, and a lactic set goats milk from brand new Santa Gadea. Giovanni Guffanti Fiori brought a southern italian bell shaped 3 milk cheese covered in ash. Made with (I think he said) Maltese goat milk, this was a wild and wooly ride around a barnyard. I like it! but it is not for the faint of heart.
April was National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month and The Lady and I, your humble Feline Foodie, promised 30 new grilled cheese recipes… alas… to mis-quote the late, great John Lennon… “we had grilled cheese plans and then life got in the way”… so even into mid-May, we are still posting grilled cheese recipes… this one today is #26 and as with the last, this is actually an open-faced cheese melt.
The Lady took Jasper Hill Farm’s sample #120125 to make her latest cheese sammy…
Using Original La Panzanella Croccantini for her bread base, she topped it with Prosciutto and then JHF’s sample #120125. She sprinkled a little rosemary on top.
She popped it in the toaster oven and three minutes later… ta da… we had dinner.
Another terrific grilled/open-faced sammy for the grilled cheese recipe vaults and future reference… living with The Lady does have at least one good side… Cheese, Glorious Cheese…
-- Spaulding Gray, The Feline Foodie, for Marcella (The Lady)
It’s thrilling to be a part of Birth of a Cheese 2012 and want to thank Culture Magazine and Jasper Hill Farm for this opportunity.
With the cheese came a questionnaire to fill out with initial reactions to appearance, aroma, texture and taste. Wanting to impress, I found that challenging. Hopefully, the good folks at Jasper Hill won’t shake their heads and wonder about choosing me, “What were we thinking?”
Most of the cheese I taste is at the peak of its age and as the cheese maker wanted it enjoyed. To taste young cheese and then “follow” its aging is a special treat.
The three samples were in various stages of aging; all young; all on the way to becoming cheese… let me rephrase that… all on the way to becoming great cheese.