Easy-to-make crackers are fresh and frugal alternatives to the boutique brands
Far from the tsunami-ravaged northeastern coast, artisan cheesemaking thrives in Nagano
One peaceful day last March I lay down to take an afternoon nap. I had arranged to visit Shimizu Farm, one of Japan’s top farmstead cheese companies, the following day and had spent the morning researching some of the other local producers I planned to profile for this article. I awoke to find my house shaking. Japan had just suffered the strongest earthquake in its recorded history. Over the next few hours, four-story-tall tsunamis would flatten entire towns and kill more than 10,000 people along the country’s northeastern coast. Suddenly, writing about cheese felt absurd.
Today’s craft beers deserve some TLC to coax out their subtle nuances
You’d be hard-pressed to walk into any bar or restaurant and find someone sitting at a table, drinking red wine straight from the bottle. Such an action would seem barbaric, right? Yet it’s downright commonplace to be dining at any given steak house in any given city in America and find folk tipping back 12-ounce bottles of macrobrew. The fact is, all beer benefits from being poured into a glass.
As is the case with wine, there are countless factors that can determine how a beer tastes, looks, and smells once it’s placed in front of you. Is your beer served at a near-freezing temperature? Was your beer stored in a warm, brightly lit room prior to service? What type of glass is your beer served in, and how was it cleaned? Sure, beer is supposed to be a casual beverage and enjoyed easily with friends, but these handling factors are crucial when you’re looking to appreciate a craft beer at its best.
Cheese flavor and texture begins with choosing the right bacterial culture
To some extent you might think of cheesemaking as farming conducted at a microbial level. The character of a cheese is mostly derived from the nature of its microbial populations, so cheesemakers, like farmers, carefully nurture their desired crops of bacteria, yeasts, and molds. Bright orange washed-rind molds or striking blue veins easily get our attention, but most often it is actually the invisible population of lactic acid bacteria that shapes the flavor and texture of a cheese.
A crisp, refreshing beer will cut through the smoked mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes. Left Hand Brewing Company Polestar Pilsner (Longmont, Colo.) is just the ticket, with a clean malt profile and spicy hop finish—a sophisticated take on a bowling-alley classic.
Cheesemongers who love what they do have the tats to prove it
Combine your next road trip with adventures in cheesemaking
Those longing to learn basic cheesemaking skills can also enjoy a getaway when they book themselves into small cheesemaking classes at farms, inns, and specialty venues across the country from Hawaii, to Maine. Here’s a sampling of current offerings in some vacation-worthy locales.
A spectacular view of Pikes Peak is a perk of the cheesemaking workshops Lindsey Aparicio hosts at her 1.6-acre urban farm on the west side of Colorado Springs. The self-proclaimed Goat Cheese Lady—who tends to four milking does—likens her program to a homesteading experience. “Participants learn everything from how to milk a goat to how to make mozzarella, ricotta, and chèvre,” Aparicio says. “Everyone gets to eat and take home samples of all the cheeses they make.”
Mention Tuscany and even the least romantic among us can hardly refrain from conjuring up images of wandering through ancient hill towns, gazing at medieval frescoes, or sipping a bottle of Vin Santo in the local piazza.