USE YOUR TONGUE!
That was the message that was first given by Valerie Henbest, cheese importer (or “Fromage Air”) for Smelly Cheese, in Adelaide, South Australia. Valerie is also a passionate cheese educator and eater, originally from Normandy, France and now an Aussie-Franco mix. With a great accent, I might add, and a life pulse that’s infectious.
Last week, I attended a Bubbles & Cheese Master Class taught by my friend Natalie Fryar, who makes Jansz Australia (Tasmanian sparkling wine) and Valerie Henbest at the Smelly Cheese headquarters in Adelaide. After a tour of the aging room, 20+ of us sat down to bubbles and cheese…but the first order of business was to think about what we were tasting, an exercise that never, ever gets old.
At the end of June, I spent the best part of a week at Neal's Yard Creamery in Herefordshire learning and making cheese, crème fraiche and yoghurts with them. In the past I’ve made lots of social visits to Herefordshire in general and Neal’s Yard Creamery in particular so it was great to be back and to catch up with Charlie, Grainne, Conan, Holly, Finn and Rags the dog. Although initially Neal’s Yard Creamery and Neal's Yard Dairy were one and the same, the two parted ways after a few years when Charlie Westhead, until then an employee at Neal’s Yard Dairy working in the shop and driving around the country buying and selecting cheese, moved into cheesemaking and developed Neal’s Yard Creamery as a separate and sister company.
After stumbling across these sites the other day I thought I'd post about them, despite the fact that they are certifiably internet-old at this point.
Without further ado I bring you two sites that have made all of your favorite (?) celebrities into cheese people. The big question: do you like your celebs better with cheese?
Earlier this summer, I attended the Taste of Cambridge and came across some delicious cheese samples from Formaggio Kitchen. I made a mental note to visit the store, and set out many weeks later to make the journey.
Since I had never been to the shop before, I had the choice to either drive my car or make use of public transportation. Fearing the absence of parking spaces in the city, I chose to walk the 20 minutes from Harvard Square, which was a big mistake in the blistering heat that day, especially when I realized Formaggio Kitchen isn't exactly in the most central area of town. There were parking spaces galore.
In January Madame Fromage told us How to Make a Downton Abbey Cheeseplate, today, I propose a Game of Thrones cast of characters drawn from my garden, where crazy weather has nurtured freaks and monsters galore.
Sadly no contenders presented themselves for some cast members, Daenerys, Bran and Ned Stark notably. And I belatedly realized I should have snapped a pic of the potato plant fruit that appears occasionally late summer as a perfect representative of Joffrey...a cheery tomato-looking thing that is deadly, DEADLY poison (they don't call them Nightshade for nothing you know.) But I didn't so you'll have to imagine that one, or google it.
You have better in your garden or larder? Bring it on.
So here we go...a homegrown cast.
August 10, 2012
On Saturday, August 4th, we attended the “Festival of Cheese” at the 2012 American Cheese Society’s Conference and Competition held in Raleigh, NC. This year’s festival, which is open to the public who purchased a $55 ticket for the 2.5-hour event, featured more than 1,700 cheeses from throughout North America. Vendors also presented a wide array of gourmet foods, wine, and beer.
Having attended last year’s festival in Montreal, we knew what to expect: an overwhelming collection of cheese organized into more than 100 categories from Fresh Unripened Cheese made from cow’s milk to Washed Rind Cheese aged more than 90 days.
Our plan of attack was to sample as many of the blue ribbon winners as we could, but we always end up sampling even the non-winners in categories we most love.
The rainy weather of June has everything growing, breeding, putting stores by for winter. The trees, fields & hedges are dripping with the heavy tresses of well-watered leaves, using July’s peak sunlight. Plenty is everywhere, including lots of insect life. I love watching the house martens ceaselessly combing the high air, the swifts scything across my path, inches above the ground, then swooping up. The birds keep us free of insects - the midges come out when the martens go to bed.
"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.
The third annual Cheesemonger Invitational last Saturday was loud, sweaty, and packed. Forty five mongers from all over the country – and the world – began the competition with a written test that, by many accounts, rattled them. Serious questions like “what is the PH of raw cow’s milk” and “what breed of goat produces milk with the highest fat content” would have left me a sniveling mess at square one. Luckily, the contestants knew more than I do.
With a closed house from 2-6pm, the mongers had a chance to focus without the distraction of a roaring crowd. Even so, the nervousness was palpable, and competitors carefully monitored their beer intake (supplied by Brooklyn Brewery and Six Point) to avoid being felled by inebriation.
I'm a Bostonian through and through. I'm loyal to the sports, the seafood and I've never been to Cheers. New York is not a place I'm often comfortable with visiting. It's too big, and frankly, I don't know what to do with a city whose planning actually makes sense. That said, there's one thing that calls me back again and again: the food. New York is arguably the best city in the United States when it comes to dining out, and whether you're craving a fresh salad or lamb on a skewer, New York can suit your needs.