tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61093626937969043052012-03-21T11:41:05.272-07:00The Cheese JunkieAll about the wonderful world of cheese. Written by a cheese lover, for the enjoyment of other cheese lovers.Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.comBlogger26125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-85736489503232410292010-04-26T11:25:00.000-07:002010-04-26T13:51:25.051-07:00My Spring Fever Picks<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S9X8rn-BalI/AAAAAAAAAOI/VaqbCSzTHlE/s1600/coolea.gif"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 213px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S9X8rn-BalI/AAAAAAAAAOI/VaqbCSzTHlE/s320/coolea.gif" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5464551549277661778" /></a><br />I love, love, love the spring in Northern California. The weather's almost perfect, everything looks fresh and clean, and there's a general feeling of excitement in the air. And although I can find something good to say about every season since I'm basically a positive person, when spring rolls around I'm almost jumping out of my skin with joy! I've been told I have spring fever, so I decided to Google it to see if maybe there's some truth to that diagnosis. Wikipedia defines spring fever as "a term applied to several sets of physical and psychological symptoms associated with the arrival of spring. In general it refers to an increase in energy, vitality and particularly sexual appetite..." Yep. I definitely have spring fever.<div><br /></div><div>What does this have to do with cheese? Well, I'll tell you. When I'm feeling this freakin' good, I want to celebrate the world and all its beauty. To me, one of the most beautiful things in the universe is a great piece of cheese. This might sound crazy to some, but I'm guessing that if you're reading this blog, you know what I'm talking about! So what cheeses are my picks for rejoicing in the splendor that is spring time in Northern Cali? Here they are in no particular order:</div><div><br /></div><div>1. <a href="http://www.cooleacheese.com/">Coolea</a>: A smooth, caramelly, aged Gouda style cheese (cow's milk), made in County Cork. This unique cheese blends Dutch tradition with Irish terroir beautifully which is why it's one of the few imported cheeses in our store. (Pictured above)</div><div>2. <a href="http://threeringfarm.com/October%20-%20Sunset%20Bay.htm">Sunset Bay</a>: Edible vegetable ash on its rind, and a line of Spanish Pimeton Paprika through its center merge to give this creamy, bloomy-rind goat's milk cheese a flavor that's out of this world!</div><div>3.<a href="http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/prodinfo.asp?number=STP"> St. Pat</a>: The stinging nettle leaves wrapped around the rind of this soft-ripened Jersey cow's milk cheese not only give it its deliciously earthy, smoky flavor, but also commemorate the arrival of spring in Marin county. Perfection.</div><div><br /></div><div>With the weather warming up, the flowers blooming, and all this beautiful cheese to eat it's no wonder I'm feverish! Life Is Good!</div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-8573648950323241029?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-55656681607994712802010-04-12T12:42:00.000-07:002010-04-12T13:52:47.624-07:00Athens, Ohio home of some delicious cheese. Who knew?<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S8OHPEeyj0I/AAAAAAAAAOA/gYa_3EtXc4A/s1600/Ohio+Cheese.JPG"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 240px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S8OHPEeyj0I/AAAAAAAAAOA/gYa_3EtXc4A/s320/Ohio+Cheese.JPG" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5459355866273845058" /></a><br />Last week Noah and I left our store for a 5 day vacation. Considering the fact that we typically work at least 6 days a week and rarely leave the store for more than a day or two, you'd think we'd go somewhere exotic for our big vacation. And we did: Athens, Ohio. I mean it's not Hawaii or Paris, but it's home to my sister and her family, and truth be told this little town way exceeded my expectations. It was sunny and 80 degrees the whole time we were there (meanwhile it was cold and rainy here in the bay area), and the landscape is lush and green with rolling hills. It's down right pastoral!<div><br /></div><div>My brother in-law, Craig, owns a company called <a href="http://www.frogranch.com/">Frog Ranch</a> which happens to make the best salsa and pickles I've ever had - and I'm not just saying that - I actually liked his food <i>before</i> he became my relative. And because we're all foodies, the first activity we did in Athens was to attend the <a href="http://www.athensfarmersmarket.org/">Athens Farmer's Market</a> where I was delighted to meet a couple very talented Cheesemakers. The first booth I hit was <a href="http://laurelvalleycreamery.com/index2.php">Laurel Valley Creamery</a> who makes a variety of cheeses, but my favorite is a table cheese they call <a href="http://laurelvalleycreamery.com/index2.php">Cora</a>. Rich and buttery, this cheese was perfect on a spelt cracker with a little PawPaw preserve.</div><div><br /></div><div>And if you don't know what the heck PawPaw is, you should stop by the <a href="http://www.integrationacres.com/default.html">Integration Acres</a> booth and try some! Apparently PawPaw is a type of fruit grown in the Athens area, and all I can say is that it's delicious and pairs beautifully with cheese. But as much as liked the PawPaw preserve, I absolutely adored the Smokey Goat cheese developed by Chris at Integration Acres. It's a little disk of fresh chevre infused with hickory smoke and black pepper. I bought a piece to share, but in the end I ate most of it. In fact at one point, my little niece was looking at the cheese and I started to panic thinking she might eat the rest of it. I thought "she's only 3, I could probably take her in a fight if I have to." I've got issues, I know.</div><div><br /></div><div>So here's the deal: some of the best cheese you will ever taste is probably hiding some place you might never think to visit, so keep your mind (and your eyes) open!</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-5565668160799471280?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-76309102237760536762010-03-29T11:07:00.000-07:002010-03-29T13:23:20.343-07:004th Annual CA Artisan Cheese Festival<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S7EL6-feInI/AAAAAAAAALE/g6Fg9wHfYJs/s1600/Barinaga.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 193px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S7EL6-feInI/AAAAAAAAALE/g6Fg9wHfYJs/s200/Barinaga.jpg" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5454153731557696114" /></a>I'm basically one of the luckiest people on the planet, and here's why: I worked this weekend (as I do every weekend), but "work" consisted of eating some of the best cheese in the world while rubbing elbows with some of the biggest names in the cheese business. On Saturday morning I headed up to <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_0">Petaluma</span> for the <a href="http://www.artisancheesefestival.com/">4<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">th</span> Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival</a>. Seriously, a <i>festival</i> dedicated entirely to cheese exists and it's practically in my backyard! This, folks, is why I say I'm one of the luckiest people on earth.<div><br /></div><div>Saturday, seminar day, opened with a general session followed by 3 seminars of our choice and a delicious lunch. My morning seminar was "California Cheese &amp; their European Ancestors" led by Juliana <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_2">Uruburu</span>. The panel members included a fairly new <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_3">Cheesemaker</span>, Marcia <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4">Barinaga</span> of <a href="http://barinagaranch.com/"><span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_5">Barinaga</span> Ranch</a> who makes a beautiful Basque style sheep's milk cheese inspired by her ancestors (pictured above). Marcia delighted us with a slide show chronicling her excursion through the Basque region on a trip she and her husband took just prior to launching their own cheese-making journey. The panel discussion was followed by a tasting of each of the panel member's cheese along side its European counter-part. Lovely.</div><div><br /></div><div>After lunch, I had two seminars back to back. First up was a session led by Sue Conley &amp; Peggy Smith of <a href="http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/">Cowgirl Creamery</a> where we learned a little about their history, ate some of their fabulous cheese (I'm actually eating some Red Hawk as I write, you know, for inspiration and to keep my energy levels up), and they talked quite a bit about their process when developing a new cheese. Not only was this class fascinating, educational, and delicious, but Peggy and Sue are like rock-stars to me so I was in heaven (fortunately I avoided rushing the stage or throwing under-garments at them as people often do to actual rock-stars)!</div><div><br /></div><div>My last seminar of the day was "Traveling the Washington Cheese Trail" where we lucky enough to try several small production farmstead cheeses from the Pacific Northwest - and by small production I mean tiny - some of these <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_6">Cheesemakers</span> have a "herd" of like 2 or 3 cows! The course was led by <a href="http://www.laurawerlin.com/">Laura <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_7">Werlin</span></a> (another one of my idols), and Kurt <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_8">Dammeier</span> of <a href="http://www.beechershandmadecheese.com/">Beecher's Handmade Cheese</a>. Not only did we get to try Beecher's Flagship Reserve, an award-winning mature <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_9">clothbound</span> cheddar, but we got to try a new cheese they're developing called "<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_10">Flagsheep</span>" which is a cow-sheep milk blend, and I have to say one of my favorite cheeses of the day! Although <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_11">Flagsheep</span> isn't currently in distribution, Kurt assures me I can get some for my counter by calling him directly (which I plan to do ASAP). I'll let you know when it arrives...</div><div><br /></div><div>Life Is Good!</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-7630910223776053676?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-74386123806545999282010-03-20T12:18:00.001-07:002010-03-20T12:20:37.961-07:00March Wine & Cheese Social!<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S6Ufyok6y5I/AAAAAAAAAKk/N87_-uZdaNo/s1600-h/iStock+-+artisnal.jpg"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 213px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S6Ufyok6y5I/AAAAAAAAAKk/N87_-uZdaNo/s320/iStock+-+artisnal.jpg" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5450797878748040082" /></a><br />Ever tried Syrah with your Humboldt Fog, Zinfandel with Peppercorn Dry Jack or maybe Pinot with O'Bannon, or get Barely Buzzed with your Petite Sirah? If not, join us for a fun mix of amazing artisan cheese selections from Village Cheese House paired with the award-winning, boutique wines from Jazz Cellars in an evening designed to tantalize your taste buds...<br /><br />When: Thursday, March 25th, 6pm - 8pm<br />Where: Village Cheese House, Town &amp; Country Shopping Center, Palo Alto<br />Cost: $20<br />RSVP: events@thevch.com<br /><br />Space is limited so pre-registration is strongly encouraged.<br /><br />Questions? Call Sarah at 650.326.9251<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-7438612380654599928?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-61885371410096208882010-03-11T11:47:00.000-08:002010-03-11T14:39:40.558-08:00Landaff: A European Inspired American Marvel<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S5lxAx94S5I/AAAAAAAAAKM/Aqv2yCeHmuo/s1600-h/Landaff.jpg"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 150px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S5lxAx94S5I/AAAAAAAAAKM/Aqv2yCeHmuo/s200/Landaff.jpg" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5447509482508143506" /></a><br />In 2008, having recently become the new owners of Village Cheese House, we were still working with the former owner's vision for the business (a selection heavily slanted toward all things European), and we'd not fully developed the vision we have today which is focused almost entirely on the American cheese movement and specialty foods produced locally. At that time one of my buddies, a Welsh woman named Angela, asked if I could bring Caerphilly cheese into our store. It's her favorite and she hadn't been able to find it anywhere on the Peninsula. Because we were still ordering a significant amount of European cheeses, I didn't see any reason not to give it a try. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't familiar with the cheese so when my distributor brought me a snow-white, semi-soft, rind-less wheel I accepted delivery and promptly called Angela to let her know the cheese was in. She graciously bought a fairly large piece and ultimately I sold about half of the wheel. But it was clearly not a popular one with our customers, and personally I thought it was freakin' horrible! I never said a word to Angela about my thoughts on the cheese, and she never said anything to me when I failed to re-order it. <div><br /></div><div>Fast forward to spring of 2009. I'm attending the 3-day intensive at the SF cheese school and Daphne introduces me to Caerphilly from Neal's Yard (can't remember if it was Gorwydd or Duckett's), and I'm blown away - not to mention completely embarrassed by the utterly pathetic excuse for cheese I offered Angela one year previously. Ugh. The problem is that by the time I realized my mistake, we had already begun to shift our counter to be more in-line with our American cheese vision, which means Duckett's Caerphilly would no longer be a good fit for us. Shoot!</div><div><br /></div><div>Fast forward again to March, 2010 and the Sonoma Cheese Conference. Jack Dean hands me a big hunk of a cheese being aged at The Cellars at Jasper Hill called Landaff that he's been wanting me to try. That night at home when I took my first nibble of Landaff, I was transported back to the day I tried <i>real</i> Caerphilly. And once again I'm blown away. I've said this before, and I'll probably say it a thousand times more: as far as cheese is concerned, Europe's got nothing on us! Landaff, made in New Hampshire at <a href="http://landaffcreamery.com/index.html">Landaff Creamery</a> is a raw cow's milk cheese inspired by Duckett's Caerphilly. In fact Landaff's creator, Doug Erb, based his recipe off of one he learned from Chris Duckett &amp; Jemima Cordle (makers of Duckett's Caerphilly). </div><div><br /></div><div>From the fresh, tangy flavor to the buttery texture and cave-aged rind, Landaff delivers the type of awesome cheese experience I'm sure my friend Angela was hoping for (but didn't have) two years ago. I can't wait for her to come into the store so I can redeem myself! Thank you Landaff Creamery for once again reaffirming what I know to be true: American Cheese-makers rock!</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-6188537141009620888?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-28122113804801106222010-02-24T13:28:00.000-08:002010-02-24T15:27:22.579-08:002010 Sonoma Valley Cheese ConferenceThe 8th annual <a href="http://www.sheanadavis.com/son_cheese_conf.html">Sonoma Cheese Conference</a> took place over the last few days, and on Monday I was fortunate enough to attend. I would have loved to be there Sunday through Tuesday, but the reality of owning a small cheese shop is that it's often hard to leave the store for more than a day at a time. However I will say this, just getting to spend one day rubbing elbows with some of my most beloved "cheese idols" served to inspire and energize me in a way I haven't felt in awhile. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and count myself as one of the luckiest girls on the planet. But some days it seems like I'm just struggling to put out one fire after another, and I think to myself "this is a grind. Where's the fun?"<div><br /></div><div>Then suddenly I'm in a room full of people who love cheese as much as I do (if not more), and I'm listening to the likes of Ari Weinzweig (<a href="http://www.zingermansdeli.com/content/pages/home.php">Zingerman's</a>), and Mateo Kehler (<a href="http://www.cellarsatjasperhill.com/">Cellars at Jasper Hill</a>) speak passionately about my chosen profession, and that "grind" I referred to just fades into the background. It's times like these when I know my little quest to bring the finest American Farmstead cheeses to the Bay Area Peninsula is the right thing to do. Challenging people to examine their beliefs about what artisan cheese should be (ie; imported), is not an easy task. But who said it would be simple? I carry the cheeses I carry in my store because I am a believer in the American Cheese Movement. I feel each cheese I have in my case (with the exception of a couple imports) is an excellent example of what can happen when traditional cheese-making techniques are combined with American ingenuity.</div><div><br /></div><div>Thanks to all the hard-working people who put together this wonderful conference (especially <a href="http://www.sheanadavis.com/">Sheana Davis</a>). It was stimulating, educational, fun, and most of all delicious!</div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-2812211380480110622?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-73169735563760406102010-02-10T14:37:00.000-08:002010-02-11T13:15:59.332-08:00St. Valentine's Day: Whatever it means for you, it's a Great Excuse to Eat Cheese!<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S3NFACPM4kI/AAAAAAAAAKE/7dPu0nRL6zg/s1600-h/Heart+Chevre.JPG"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 150px;" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S3NFACPM4kI/AAAAAAAAAKE/7dPu0nRL6zg/s200/Heart+Chevre.JPG" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5436765042069267010" /></a><br />When I was growing up, Valentine's Day was usually a source of anxiety. Would anyone at school give me a card? Would the person or people I gave cards to reject me? Would my mom let me eat all the candy I got or would I have to hide it from her? These are the questions that plagued me in the week leading up to the day.<div><br /></div><div>As I got older and began to date, the anxiety developed into a mixed back of nervousness and anticipation. What would my boyfriend do to mark the occasion (would he even remember)? What should I give him? What should I wear? Will he say "I love you!" or will there be awkward silence? More often than not, the immense build-up of expectations lead to a somewhat deflated, anti-climatic pseudo-romantic debacle. Fun.</div><div><br /></div><div>Now that I'm suspended in a state of utter bliss - married to my soul-mate, business partner, and best friend (not three separate people, mind you, just one guy named Noah), I no longer suffer from even an ounce of unease over this Hallmarkiest of holidays. We just keep it simple: time together, alone, Blackberries turned off, with some really good food. What are we eating this year? Well the menu hasn't come together completely yet, but one thing's for sure - our cheese course will include the delectable little heart-shaped chevre with rose petal preserve we brought into the store this week to celebrate Valentine's Day. Imported from France, this goat's milk cheese has a lovely Geotrichum Candidum rind, and is a perfectly formed heart-shape. The combination of the tangy, lemoniness of the cheese along with the earthy, sweet, floral notes of the rose petal preserve will rocket you into another dimension. Flawless.</div><div><br /></div><div>I hope that whatever emotions this holiday brings up for you, you'll do yourself the favor of commemorating it by eating great cheese! </div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-7316973556376040610?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-8705588681474749402010-02-02T15:23:00.001-08:002010-02-02T16:17:10.356-08:00Bellwether Carmody<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S2i-X-YsDbI/AAAAAAAAAJ0/yOzKBoUbU_g/s1600-h/carmody"><img style="margin: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; float: right; cursor: pointer; width: 250px; height: 250px;" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S2i-X-YsDbI/AAAAAAAAAJ0/yOzKBoUbU_g/s320/carmody" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5433802269515320754" border="0" /></a><br />I'm turning 40 this year (sigh), and in reviewing this last decade of my life, I realize I made several goals for my 30's that for one reason or another, I just didn't get around to. Don't get me wrong, my 30's have been great. I met and married my soul-mate, my two kids are healthy, happy, and doing well in school, and Noah and I bought our cheese shop, which is huge because it put to rest that nagging question "what do I want to do with my life?" So overall, my 30's have been a win. But, there is still this list of things I was determined to do that I just didn't do. Some of the items on the list we can just cross off right now because they no longer apply.<br /><br />For example, "skydiving" was on my list for my 30's. I didn't do it, and I can tell you right now I'm not going to do it. Mainly because as I've aged, I've become less and less comfortable with flying. I like being on the ground - to the extent that I recently got hypnotized in the hopes of feeling more comfortable with the 8 or 9 trips I'm taking this year which require flying. So no, I'm NOT going to voluntarily jump out of a plane. But there is something on that list I can do (which doesn't require my feet to leave the earth): engage in more health conscious eating.<br /><br />I'm guessing by now you were wondering what my little bucket list has to do with <a href="http://www.bellwetherfarms.com/cowcheese/">Bellwether Farms Carmody</a> cheese, right? Well, I've decided to follow a healthy eating regimen, not a diet mind you, but just a change in my eating habits which requires that I don't eat a lot of sugary foods, but does allow me to eat 1 serving of dairy 3 times a day. This is where the Carmody comes in: I pretty much rely on those 3 servings of dairy to provide me with the bulk of enjoyment I'm going to get out of my food on a daily basis. So I'm insistent on selecting dairy which is going to taste really, really, really good. And Carmody does. Really good. This mild, creamy, table cheese boasts a fresh, but intensely buttery Jersey Cow's milk flavor, and even though it's a fairly young cheese, there is a depth and richness to it which is second to none.<br /><br />The key to me successfully crossing this item off my list is that with Carmody as part of my healthy eating plan, I never have to feel deprived. Now, if only I could accomplish all the other goals on my list just by eating cheese...<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-870558868147474940?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-79506462080397672132010-01-28T13:44:00.001-08:002010-01-28T14:28:08.864-08:00Fancy Food Show Favorites<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S2IFed4i4_I/AAAAAAAAAJs/yXAw0NOlPvE/s1600-h/Little_Boy_Blue.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 320px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S2IFed4i4_I/AAAAAAAAAJs/yXAw0NOlPvE/s320/Little_Boy_Blue.jpg" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5431910121538249714" /></a>We had quite a week last week, hence why I'm posting later than usual. To start off, we attended the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and by mid-week we were battling the flood in our store caused by the heavy rains. Whew. I'm tired!<div><br /></div><div>But now that our back-of-house is dry again, I've had time to reflect on our trip to the food show last week. One of the items that stands out most in my mind is a cheese from Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese called <a href="http://www.willapahillscheese.com/4cheese-littleboyblue-a.html">Little Boy Blue</a>. This cow's milk, semi-soft, mild blue boasts a natural rind, and a superbly creamy texture. Aged over 60 days, and delivered in rounds weighing about 1.25 lbs, Little Boy Blue is exactly how I like my blues: a light, buttery paste with a mild to medium tang. Not over-powering, but not boring either. Just perfectly balanced. </div><div><br /></div><div>My other favorite from this year's show is Cowgirl Creamery's new seasonal / winter cheese - <a href="http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/prodinfo.asp?number=DEVIL">Devil's Gulch</a>. Soft, creamy, and melodious are a few words that come to mind. The rind of this Jersey cow's milk cheese is dusted with sweet and spicy peppers grown at All Star Organics Farm (one of my favorites - we carry their salts and sugars at our store). So to sum up, Devil's Gulch is the point where Cheesemaking at its highest intersects with organic farming at its finest. Not too shabby.</div><div><br /></div><div>For those of you interested in trying either of these examples of perfection, Devil's Gulch will be on our counter by mid-week, and Little Boy Blue the week after next... </div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-7950646208039767213?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-85193366618939173822010-01-18T08:54:00.000-08:002010-01-18T11:37:53.428-08:00Oregonzola: A perfect American interpretation of a European classic.<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S1S4cnJUwLI/AAAAAAAAAJk/6n1SKeO4E4o/s1600-h/Oregonzola+(5).JPG"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 240px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S1S4cnJUwLI/AAAAAAAAAJk/6n1SKeO4E4o/s320/Oregonzola+(5).JPG" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5428166252572229810" /></a><br />I've never thought of myself as someone who's particularly patriotic. Don't get me wrong, I love America and recognize I'm blessed to be a citizen, I just mean I've haven't spent much time thinking about my level of patriotism. I have relatives in the mid-west who are very clear on their loyalty to America. They won't buy anything, especially a car, that's not made in the US and the implication that anyone else, anywhere else in the world can do anything better than us is blasphemy. Fortunately they haven't disowned me for buying a Toyota Camry - they just chalk it up to the fact that I was raised, and continue to live in California, aka "the land of fruits and nuts."<div><br /></div><div>I guess I've sort of bought into the idea that my immediate family is different from the rest of our family because we live in Cali and they live in Wisconsin. But since we purchased our cheese shop in 2007, I've been nurturing my growing passion for domestic artisanal and farmstead cheese, and it turns out I've got the same "patriotism gene" as the mid-western contingent of my family. At least where cheese is concerned. I'm totally convinced we make some of the best cheese in the world, and it would be impossible for you to dissuade me from this way of thinking. I guess now I understand how my uncle, Kevin, feels about Ford trucks.</div><div><br /></div><div>I mean, when it comes to cheese not only are we producing some wonderful original cheeses like Barely Buzzed and Appalachian, but we're also reinterpreting some classic European cheeses in a way that really pays homage to the centuries-old cheesemaking traditions. A fine example of what I'm talking about is <a href="http://www.roguecreamery.com/product.asp?specific=109">Oregonzola by Rogue Creamery</a>. This Gorgonzola style cheese made right here in Oregon boasts a tart, fruity, yet creamy flavor with the classic light veining you associate with the Italian version. It's great for cooking (fondue, soups, etc) as well as by itself or paired with fruit, nuts, prosciutto, and a good Pinot Noir. </div><div><br /></div><div>Pure and simple American perfection...</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-8519336661893917382?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-37009144122551065732010-01-13T16:04:00.000-08:002010-01-13T16:53:15.416-08:00O'Banon. OMG.<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S05qVnoWZjI/AAAAAAAAAJc/NoQfmWkCYyM/s1600-h/cheeses-OBanon4.jpg"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 300px; height: 225px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S05qVnoWZjI/AAAAAAAAAJc/NoQfmWkCYyM/s320/cheeses-OBanon4.jpg" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5426391520676046386" /></a><br />I basically have a love - hate relationship with goat's milk. This is due to the fact that I had a mom (Deborah) who didn't want her children to eat or drink anything processed - which led to her keeping a goat, whom we named Jasmin, in our carport. (No we didn't have a farm, which is why this is weird). She would milk Jasmin and use the goat's milk on our granola, for cooking, and for anything else you'd use milk for. My sister Molly and I just wanted to be "normal" kids, you know, with store-bought cartons of homogenized Vitamin D cow's milk. But no. Even Mom's attempts at "hiding" the fact that it was fresh goat's milk by putting the milk inside a store-bought milk container she got from one of her friends didn't work. First of all, the milk was usually still warm which was a big indicator that it didn't come from the Safeway dairy fridge. Secondly, it tasted "<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_0">goatie</span>," not "<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">cowie</span>." And being young (and desperate to conform) we really, really, really wanted "<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_2">cowie</span>." So often when I eat goat's milk cheese, I'm brought back to that phase of my childhood which my husband has dubbed "little Deb on the Prairie."<div><br /></div><div>What does my tale of woe have to do with delicious <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_3">O'Banon</span> cheese? Well O' <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4">Banon</span> made by <a href="http://www.capriolegoatcheese.com/CheesesChild.aspx?CheeseID=31"><span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_5">Capriole</span></a> is one of the reasons why I have the "love" part of my love-hate relationship with goat's milk. This dense, yet creamy <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_6">chevre</span> wrapped in <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_7">bourboned</span> chestnut leaves is like an amusement park ride for your taste-buds. The high quality milk gives the cheese a feather-light, yet mildly tangy attack, and the <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_8">Woodford</span> Reserve Bourbon soaked leaves provide a light kick at the end. Perfection. Pure and simple. And one of the best things about it is that it's an American farmstead cheese! </div><div><br /></div><div>As quirky as my childhood was, as an adult I appreciate my mom's efforts to give us the highest quality foods. And even though I joke about the "trauma" of having a goat rather than a Volvo in the carport, without all my exposure to different flavors I may not be so well equipped to appreciate little slices of joy like <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_9">O'Banon</span>.</div><div><br /></div><div>Thanks, Mom.</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-3700914412255106573?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-30513791844865366792010-01-05T15:38:00.000-08:002010-01-05T16:39:32.297-08:00Black Mambazo<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S0PbXFEP5kI/AAAAAAAAAJU/dwPgJ0mUi6s/s1600-h/Black+Mambazo.JPG"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 240px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/S0PbXFEP5kI/AAAAAAAAAJU/dwPgJ0mUi6s/s320/Black+Mambazo.JPG" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5423419565827679810" /></a><br />If you've familiar with the name Black <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_0">Mambazo</span>, it's probably because you've heard of <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">Ladysmith</span> Black <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_2">Mambazo</span>, the all male choral group that performed with Paul Simon on his "Graceland" album. That is, of course, unless you frequent one of the farmer's markets in the Seattle area, in which case you would recognize Black <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_3">Mambazo</span> as the delectable little organic, farmstead cheese made by the <a href="http://www.samishbaycheese.com/cheese.html"><span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4">Samish</span> Bay Cheese Company</a>. <div><br /></div><div>I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to Black <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_5">Mambazo</span> through sheer happenstance: I own the cheese shop across the street from Stanford University which is where the daughter of the <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_6">Cheesemaker</span> is currently attending school. One day while I was sitting in my office staring at the mountain of bookkeeping work piled on my desk (and feeling sorry for myself, I must admit), Roger <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_7">Wechsler</span> walked into my store with cheese-in-hand. Lucky me!</div><div><br /></div><div>Black <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_8">Mambazo</span> is a 2lb wheel of semi-hard, organic cow's milk cheese. During the aging process the cheese is rubbed with <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_9">chipotle</span> mixture which gives a little kick to the otherwise smooth, creamy, and buttery flavor. My favorite thing about this cheese (besides it's rustic look) is the super long finish - like fresh, but spicy butter - that lasts for several minutes. So nice. If you're interested in experiencing something you've probably never experienced before, come on down to the store for a taste...</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-3051379184486536679?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-50069070693665394492009-12-30T09:45:00.000-08:002009-12-30T11:33:25.282-08:00Ringing in 2010 with a Buzz!<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/SzuS6SmEgRI/AAAAAAAAAJM/k23PEOMqTv8/s1600-h/barely_buzzed.jpg"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 300px; height: 214px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/SzuS6SmEgRI/AAAAAAAAAJM/k23PEOMqTv8/s320/barely_buzzed.jpg" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5421088106592108818" /></a>Who can resist a name like Barely Buzzed? Definitely not this Cheese Junkie! I have to admit that flavored <span class="blsp-spelling-corrected" id="SPELLING_ERROR_0">Cheddars</span> typically aren't my absolute favorite, but after hearing about, reading about, and watching a show (on Food Network) about Barely Buzzed, I couldn't wait to taste it. Not only was it getting rave reviews as an awesomely delicious cheese, but I think the name is one of the best I've heard!<div><br /></div><div>Barely Buzzed is made in Utah by <a href="http://www.beehivecheese.com/">Beehive Cheese Co.</a>. When I think of American artisan cheese, Utah doesn't usually spring to mind, but it should because Tim Welsh and Pat Ford (founders of Beehive) have really hit a home run with Barely Buzzed - taking 1st place in the Flavored Cheddar category of the American Cheese Society's annual competition 2007, 2008, and 2009. And after tasting this cheese I think you'll agree with the judges. </div><div><br /></div><div>Made with the highest quality of milk, and aged on racks made of Utah Blue Spruce in Beehive Cheese Co.'s caves, this cheese has a wonderfully nutty, rich flavor and a creamy, smooth texture. It's hand rubbed with a mixture of "Beehive Blend" coffee (from the <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">Cheesemaker's</span> brother-in-law's coffee company), lavender buds, and oil. The rub finds its way through out the entire wheel of cheese to develop a caramel-like flavor which I absolutely adore, and the lavender gives it a unique and unexpected finish.</div><div><br /></div><div>If you're looking to ring in 2010 with a buzz, I whole-<span class="blsp-spelling-corrected" id="SPELLING_ERROR_2">heartily</span> suggest Barely Buzzed!</div><div> </div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-5006907069366539449?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-77209885194726309552009-12-21T11:48:00.000-08:002009-12-21T14:03:12.539-08:00Appalachian: Much More Than a Mountain Range<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/Sy_TPv7l7MI/AAAAAAAAAJE/ojqxcHg9_Jo/s1600-h/Appalachian.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 250px; height: 320px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/Sy_TPv7l7MI/AAAAAAAAAJE/ojqxcHg9_Jo/s320/Appalachian.jpg" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5417781144267910338" /></a>Early spring of this year, my friend Matt left the comfort of our ideal little Bay Area town to embark on an <a href="http://www.nps.gov/appa/index.htm">Appalachian Trail</a> adventure. His goal being to walk the entire length of the trail - from Georgia to Maine. To me this sounds crazy. But Matt's a documentary film-maker and he'd already walked (and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLllJ5oU7-Q">filmed</a>) the entire <a href="http://www.pcta.org/">Pacific Crest Trail</a> in 2007, so I knew this was no biggie for him. I mean, I long to be surrounded by pastoral beauty as much as the next person, but I'm just not sure it's necessary to walk 2,175 miles to accomplish this...<div><br /></div><div>Anyway, while Matt was taking his stroll, every so often he'd pop into a town and send us an update on <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_0">Facebook</span>. One day while I was reading Matt's <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">FB</span> post (and doing my best <i>not</i> to work on our bookkeeping), I decided to Google "Appalachian" and my interest was immediately piqued by a link to <a href="http://meadowcreekdairy.com/JML/index.php?option=com_frontpage&amp;Itemid=1">Meadow Creek Dairy's</a> Appalachian cheese.</div><div><br /></div><div>Although I'd not previously heard of this cheese, it sounded delicious: made with Jersey cow's milk, and similar to a French style <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_2">Tomme</span>, this lightly cooked, pressed curd cheese has a lemony, buttery, <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_3">mushroomy</span> flavor with a spicy finish. The Junkie in me couldn't resist so I promptly ordered a piece for my cheese counter, and man-oh-man am I ever glad I did! To me, this cheese is a perfect example of everything that is wonderful about the American Farmstead cheese movement.</div><div><br /></div><div>We have customers in our store everyday who think the only good cheese comes from Europe, and since our focus is on American cheese we try our best to educate these customers. Having a cheese like Appalachian available for American cheese nay-<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4">sayers</span> to try has been priceless in my quest to educate (and convert) Euro cheese snobs. Upon popping a piece of high quality, hand crafted, American farmstead cheese into their mouth, it's a delight to see the scrunched up face of the disbelieving morph into the open, bright-eyed glow of the newly converted devotee. Man, I love my job!</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-7720988519472630955?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-18356471214410648122009-12-14T12:33:00.000-08:002009-12-14T16:27:37.623-08:00Meet the Cheesemakers EventHello fellow cheese-junkies! After 6 hectic weeks which included a case of the swine flu and a partial remodel of our store, life has finally returned to what passes for normal around here. My sincerest apologies for the huge gap between my last post and this one, but now that I'm not battling with consultants and contractors (all while having a fever of over 101 degrees), I'll be making regular posts again. Whew, what a relief. Thankfully I bounced back just in time for the holiday season...<div><br /></div><div>Speaking of which, last Saturday we had our first ever Holiday Open-house and Meet the Cheesemakers Event. We were honored to have several local (highly talented, tremendously creative, exceptionally friendly) artisans in attendance. Our lucky customers got to rub elbows with Cheesemakers from <a href="http://www.redwoodhill.com/">Redwood Hill Farm</a>, <a href="http://www.shamrockartisangoatcheese.com/">Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese</a>, <a href="http://www.centralcoastcreamery.com/">Central Coast Creamery</a>, <a href="http://www.springhillcheese.com/">Spring Hill Cheese Co.</a>, and <a href="http://www.fiscalinicheese.com/">Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese Co.</a>. The makers of <a href="http://www.framani.com/">Fra'Mani Salumi</a> also sent a representative to demonstrate their wares. Deeeee-lish!</div><div><br /></div><div>This was truly cheese-junkie heaven! <a href="http://www.laurachenel.com/">Laura Chenel Chevre</a> wasn't able to send anyone down to the store, but they generously sent samples of Cabecou and Melodie (see 08/22/2009 post about these two delicious cheeses), and their neighbors at Redwood Hill Farms delighted our customers with Bucheret, a dense buttery bloomy rind cheese. RHF also brought us some perfectly ripe Camellia which they served on a cracker with Les Follies Apricot Cumin spread for Camembert. Absolutely fabulous! Rounding out our offering of goat's milk cheeses was the Tome du Corbier from Shamrock (a hard to come by cheese in our neck of the woods, but we have it, along with their Ashed Tomette and Shamrock Bouchon).</div><div><br /></div><div>Mariano Gonzalez, the master cheese maker at Fiscalini, charmed us all with his amiable personality and his fantastic (multiple award-winning) Bandaged Wrapped Cheddar. We also tasted Fiscalini's Horsefeathers cheddar and horseradish spread. One word: tasty. I talked with Mariano about the idea of buying the spread from him in bulk so we can sell it on our roast-beef sandwiches. Just to make sure it's a good idea, I tried a roast-beef and Horsefeathers sandwich today, and yes, it's a good idea. What could be better than thinly sliced, medium-rare roast-beef (we just pulled from the oven) slathered in cheddar and horseradish? Absolutely nothing. </div><div><br /></div><div>One of our newest additions to our cheese case is Seascape made by Reggie Jones from Central Coast Creamery. This semi-soft goat's milk / cow's milk blend just melts in your mouth. Noah fell in love with it and kept going back for more (I had to keep him from eating all the samples meant for our customers). The thing he liked the most is that the flavors are so complex you find something new with each bite you take - hence his multiple trips to Reggie's table!</div><div><br /></div><div>All in all, it was a successful event and we're planning on doing it again next year. But don't wait until then to stop by the store! Either myself or one of my Assistant Cheesemongers - Kevin, Cammy, or Leslie - will be glad to give you a taste of something spectacular. </div><div><br /></div><div>...And I'll be sure to let you know when the Roast-beef and Horsefeathers sandwich is making its debut!</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-1835647121441064812?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-2469039608179845962009-10-28T20:55:00.000-07:002009-10-28T21:15:01.199-07:00I'll be back soon...One thing I really don't like is when I start reading a blog that has regular posts, then suddenly and without explanation, the blogger just stops posting. Annoying, not to mention unprofessional. So even though I think it's obnoxious to have a blog and not post at least weekly, and even though my grandmother wouldn't approve (she used to say excuses are like belly-buttons: everyone has one), I'm going to give you my reason for not having posted in the last few weeks, and my excuse as to why I won't be posting until the end of November:<div><br /></div><div>The biggest reason why I haven't posted lately is that I got a really bad case of the flu. Swine flu, you ask? Well I'm not sure because it turns out that if you're a 30-something, physically fit individual, they don't bother testing you for H1N1 'cause they're not going to do anything for you anyway. I was told to go home, get rest, stay away from my store, and not to kiss my husband. However, I talked to a doctor friend of mine and given my symptoms was told I probably did have H1N1. </div><div><br /></div><div>It's been a few weeks since I got sick and thankfully I'm starting to feel better. I actually feel like a human again - which is a relief because I wasn't sure I ever would. But, and this is a BIG but - before I got sick, Noah and I hired a consultant to help us make some major improvements to the store. Things are a little behind schedule because I wasn't able to work, so now we're really scrambling to get everything done before the holiday season hits - which happens to be the busiest time of year at Village Cheese House. And this is my excuse for not posting anything new for the next few weeks.</div><div><br /></div><div>My deepest apologies...</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-246903960817984596?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-85251854564212824042009-09-28T10:26:00.000-07:002009-09-28T16:54:24.969-07:00CA Artisan Cheese Guild FundraiserOn Friday, Noah and I had the pleasure of attending the 2<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_0">nd</span> Annual <a href="http://www.cacheeseguild.org/">CA Artisan Cheese Guild</a> Fundraiser held at <a href="http://www.cheeseschoolsf.com/">The Cheese School of San Francisco</a>. It was a "meet the <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">Cheesemakers</span>" event in cocktail party format - so much fun! In attendance were some of my favorite local <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_2">Cheesemakers</span> (Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove, and Laura <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_3">Chenel</span> to name a few) as well as some less familiar to me (Shamrock, and <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4">Barinaga</span> for example). <div><br /></div><div>I was particularly intrigued by a new cheese called <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_5">Baserri</span> made by Marcia <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_6">Barinaga</span> (<a href="http://barinagaranch.com/"><span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_7">Barinaga</span> Ranch</a>). This 4 - 5 lb sheep's milk <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_8">tomme</span> is made using the <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_9">cheesemaking</span> traditions of Marcia's Basque family and ancestors in Spain. The cheese is produced in small hand-made batches, and aged for 60 days. The brine used to wash the rind during the aging process encourages the growth of B. linens which gives the cheese a reddish coloring, and the richness of the sheep's milk coupled with this natural rind provides a brilliant nutty taste. I simply loved the light, fresh, earthy flavor resulting from the use of high quality raw milk, and the mild finish had just the right amount of saltiness to it. I'm sure when I get my hands on a hunk of this cheese I'll think of some interesting uses for it, but I have to say it's perfection on its own! </div><div><br /></div><div>You know, pretty much everyone I've met in the world of <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_10">artisanal</span> cheese is really friendly so chatting it up with all the <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_11">Cheesemakers</span> Friday night was delightful. I spoke with Jennifer <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_12">Bice</span> (founder, <a href="http://www.redwoodhill.com/">Redwood Hill Farm</a>) and got to try their latest creation, Roasted Chile <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_13">Chevre</span>, and I have one word: delicious! It reminded me of when I was young and if my parents were having a "fancy" party, my mom would make a concoction of cream cheese and canned sweet peppers (which she served with Wheat Thins). Naturally, the <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_14">RWH</span> Roasted Chile <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_15">Chevre</span> is a MUCH more sophisticated version of that but I love anything that brings up fond childhood memories. Jennifer said they'd send someone down to do an in-store tasting at Village Cheese House sometime before the holidays so stay tuned...</div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-8525185456421282404?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-58397253110985694372009-09-15T13:30:00.000-07:002009-09-17T10:57:16.695-07:00Peppercorn Dry Jack Goat CheeseNoah and I just spent 3 wonderful days celebrating a good friend's 40th birthday - at Disneyland of all places! I hadn't been there since I was very, very young and I was amazed to see how different the place looks through adult eyes. The rides were still fun, the shows were entertaining, and it was heavenly to escape the "real" world for awhile. But for someone as particular about food as I am, it was a culinary nightmare. I don't want you to get the idea that I'm a food snob, because I'm not. I've been known to eat a greasy cheeseburger and fries, or even a deep-fried something-or-other on occasion. But I seriously need to have my daily allotment of fresh veggies, not to mention the fact that I eat artisanal cheese at least once a day, and both of these items were missing from any of the menus I encountered. So after 72 hours of quitting cheese "cold-turkey," this junkie was delighted to get back to the cheese counter!<div><br /></div><div>What was the first cheese I ate upon my return, you ask? It was Petaluma Creamery's Peppercorn Dry Jack Goat Cheese. YUM. This aged cheese is produced here in the Bay Area (not that far from where the original Vella Dry Jack is made) by Larry Peter who also owns <a href="http://www.springhillcheese.com/petcreamery.html">Spring Hill Jersey Cheese Co</a>. Its light beige paste is infused with whole pepper corns, and the rind is rubbed with olive oil, cocoa, and black pepper. One of my favorite things in all the world is a cheese which has a mildly sweet attack but has a savory, even spicy finish and this cheese hits the nail on the head. Although it would be great in cooking, I choose to eat Peppercorn Dry Jack by itself so I can fully enjoy the complexity of flavor brought about by the combination of high quality goat's milk and the traditional dry jack rub.</div><div><br /></div><div>When you bite into this cheese you can just imagine happy goats frolicking across the rolling hills of the North Bay, feeding on nutrient rich grasses and breathing fresh ocean air. Perfect....</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-5839725311098569437?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-31584666649362103942009-09-03T17:49:00.000-07:002009-09-03T18:32:58.913-07:00Pecorino Sardo Gran CruI absolutely love, love, love foods which are rich, creamy, buttery, and savory which is why I adore cheeses made with sheep's milk. I've actually never had a sheep's milk cheese I didn't like. Call me easy or whatever, but the depth of flavor that comes from sheep's milk never fails to satisfy my cravings. This holds true for Pecorino Sardo Gran Cru (<a href="http://www.academiabarilla.com/products-services/cheese/pecorino-gran.aspx">Academia Barilla</a>). We introduced it back in June during our 50th Anniversary Party and it was an immediate hit.<div><br /></div><div>Pecorino Sardo Gran Cru is produced in Sassari (Sardinia) with 100% sheep's milk. The texture and flavors remind me of Parmigiano-Reggiano, probably because the same cheese-making techniques are used on both cheeses. This rich, nutty, slightly salty cheese is aged 20 months and has a mild, fruity finish. We like to serve it with one of the spreads made by the same company - my favorite is the Fresh Pears with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, but it also works well naked with a glass of full-bodied red wine.</div><div><br /></div><div>However, Gran Cru is versatile - not only does it work on a cheese board, but it's great for cooking. I found a cool recipe (below) for <a href="http://www.academiabarilla.com/products-services/cheese/pecorino-gran.aspx">Sardinian Gnocchi</a> - deelish! I know what we're having for dinner...</div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Serves 4</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><ul><li>1 lb durum wheat flour (semolina)</li><li>3.5 oz lard</li><li>3.5 oz lean veal, chopped</li><li>3.5 oz lean pork, chopped</li><li>1 lb tomato sauce</li><li>2.5 oz Pecorino Sardo Gran Cru, chilly, grated</li><li>1 onion</li><li>1 sprig parsley</li><li>1 sprig rosemary</li><li>EVOO</li><li>salt &amp; pepper</li></ul><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">Work the semolina with a generous tbls of oil, a pinch of salt &amp; pepper, and a small amount of water - just enough to obtain a soft but consistent mixture. Divide into pieces, shape into 2cm diameter sticks, and cut these into a length of 3cm. Dimple with your fingers, and then line them up, floured, on a pastry board.</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">In a pan, put 1 tbls of oil, the chopped onion, the lard, and saute. Add the chopped meat, chopped parsley and rosemary, and continue to saute. Blend in the tomato sauce and 1 ladle of water. Cook slowly for 1 hour, adding more water if necessary.</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">Cook the "gnocchi" in abundant salted water, drain them and dress with the sauce and the grated Gran Cru. Serve hot &amp; enjoy!</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-3158466664936210394?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-49074906671633131152009-08-28T16:43:00.000-07:002009-08-28T17:15:16.173-07:00Beemster Lite - taste great, less filling!For quite awhile customers at our store have been asking us for a "lite" cheese. I've been loathe to put one in our case because to me, most lite or low-fat cheese tastes like cooked rubber. Not that I've ever actually tasted cooked rubber, but you get the idea. And the texture, ick. It gives me the chills to even think about how some lite cheeses feel in my mouth... I may be a junkie, but I have standards nonetheless! <div><br /></div><div>So typically when someone asks me for a lite or low-fat cheese, I direct them to a cheese made with a milk type that's lower in butterfat - like one of the wonderful goat's milk cheeses made right here in Northern California. Until now. I have finally found a lite cheese I can live with: Beemster Lite Matured. I have always been a fan of Beemster - with its nutty, caramelly flavor and long finish, but I still assumed that the lite version of the cheese would be horrible. I'm so glad to be wrong. Beemster Lite Matured has the creaminess and sweet yet nutty flavor I love, with the same long finish I associate with this type of cheese. But it has 33% less fat than other Gouda style cheeses and about 20% less salt. Simply awesome.</div><div><br /></div><div>I found this recipe on the <a href="http://www.beemster.us/en-US/the-cheeses/beemsterlite/beemsterlite-matured/">Beemster</a> website and it's delicious. If you're trying to go "lite" one night, this would be a good one to try:</div><div><br /></div><div><div style="TEXT-ALIGN: center"><i>Serves 4</i></div> <ul> <li>5 oz. Beemster Lite Matured, in cubes or matchsticks</li> <li>2 tblsp. olive or wok oil</li> <li>18 oz. green asparagus, sliced diagonally into 3/4 inch pieces</li> <li>2.5 oz. arugula or baby leaf lettuce</li> <li>8 slices of ham</li> <li>2 pears, peeled &amp; sliced</li> <li>2 green onions, sliced into thin rings</li> <li>3.5 tblsp. walnuts, coarsely chopped</li> <li>3 tblsp. olive oil</li> <li>1 tblsp. balsamic vinegar</li> <li>1 tblsp. lemon juice</li> <li>1 tsp. mustard</li> <li>freshly ground pepper</li></ul> <div>Grease a grill pan with 2 tblsp. olive or wok oil, and grill asparagus until golden brown and done but still crunchy - about 3 to 4 minutes.</div> <div>Mix dressing ingredients: olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice, mustard, &amp; pepper.</div> <div>Divide lettuce evenly on to 4 plates, place asparagus on top of greens.</div> <div>Put the ham on the hot grill pan until crispy. Divide the pear, green onion, and Beemster evenly over asparagus. </div> <div>Drizzle dressing over salads and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Tip: serve with ciabatta or warm French bread. Try mixing green &amp; white asparagus (be sure to completely peel the white variety).</div> <div><br /></div></div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-4907490667163313115?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-247338669115756402009-08-22T10:57:00.000-07:002009-08-22T14:29:26.098-07:00Laura Chenel Plant Tour<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/SpBh3y2vlNI/AAAAAAAAAI8/7_Ku-OFD6bQ/s1600-h/L+Chenel+1.JPG"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 240px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/SpBh3y2vlNI/AAAAAAAAAI8/7_Ku-OFD6bQ/s320/L+Chenel+1.JPG" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5372901966625084626" /></a><br />A few months ago I met Jacquelyn Buchanan, the Director of Culinary Development for <a href="http://www.laurachenel.com/">Laura Chenel Chevre</a>. Even though they don't typically give tours of their cheese-making facility, Jacquelyn arranged it so I could bring our Cheesemonger-in-training (Kevin) up there on Wednesday to have a look around. As it turns out, everyone who might have normally guided our visit was busy off-site, so the actual cheese-maker, a French woman named Isabelle, took time out of her schedule to give us the tour. Jack pot!<div><br /></div><div>This was one of the most informative experiences I've ever had in terms of understanding cheese-making. Since she's not used to giving tours, Isabelle decided to show us the Laura Chenel process for their fresh cheeses from beginning to end in great detail. We started outside with the truck delivering milk from one of their 15 producers where she explained all of the checks and balances they have in place to make sure they're receiving only the highest quality of milk. From there she walked us into the plant and showed us each step the milk takes on its journey to becoming one of the best goat's milk cheeses being made today: from pasteurization, to the holding tank where the starter cultures and rennet are introduced, then on to the bags where the whey is pressed from the curd, and ultimately to the room where the logs of fresh chevre are (seasoned) hand packed and labeled. As we looked at each phase of development, Isabelle allowed us to sample the milk in its varying stages so we could experience the transformation with all our senses. </div><div><br /></div><div>Naturally we got to see the aging room where the Tome, Crottin, Taupiniere, and my favorite - Cabecou were resting. But one of the aspects of the tour I found most interesting was the way they protect the quality of their product. Isabelle showed us each check-point along the process where they monitor to make sure the milk quality is high, the temperature is perfect, and there are no contaminants. She even showed us how they keep all the equipment, trucks, and even the plant itself perfectly clean and sterilized. Whew! Seeing all this really drove home the immense amount of care required to produce great cheese, and tripled my respect for cheese-makers.</div><div><br /></div><div>Besides showing us the entire process for their fresh chevre, Isabelle also showed us how the Tome is made. Tome is a delicious hand-made 3 - 4 lb. wheel, aged 6 months. The curd is cooked and then hand pressed to give the cheese a wonderful, semi-hard texture. The ivory colored paste has a sweet, lightly nutty flavor with a finish reminiscent of salted caramel. This cheese is great for cooking as it slices, grates, crumbles, &amp; melts well, but personally I think it stands on its own just fine and would make a great addition to any cheese board.</div><div><br /></div><div>After spending two hours in the plant I didn't think I could be happier, but I was wrong. We concluded our time at Laura Chenel by sitting down with Isabelle to sample every cheese they make. Although I'd had many of the cheeses before, I was introduced to a couple of exciting new ones. Melodie, made in France exclusively for Laura Chenel was my favorite. It's a mild, creamy cheese with an ivory paste and a beautiful silver rind. It has a buttery richness that I don't normally associate with goat's milk, and at the same time it's lacking that strong barn-yardy flavor sometimes present in goat cheeses of a similar type. This is a cheese you can put on any board whether you're serving neophytes or connoisseurs, and be confident that it will be a crowd pleaser. Melodie will be happily joining other Laura Chenel cheeses at our counter.</div><div><br /></div><div>All in all, another fabulous day in the world of cheese...</div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-24733866911575640?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-84105629401724829272009-08-13T17:01:00.000-07:002009-08-15T16:11:31.322-07:00The Cellars at Jasper Hill<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/SoSvViPWizI/AAAAAAAAAIs/MjzbHFWGOyM/s1600-h/oma2.jpg"><img style="margin: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; float: right; cursor: pointer; width: 320px; height: 213px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/SoSvViPWizI/AAAAAAAAAIs/MjzbHFWGOyM/s320/oma2.jpg" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5369609440235785010" border="0" /></a><br />When I attended the SF Cheese School's 3-Day seminar this spring I met lots of great people, one of who is Jack Dean, representative of <a href="http://www.cellarsatjasperhill.com/">The Cellars at Jasper Hill</a>. We also had the pleasure of tasting some of the cheeses produced by or aged by Jasper Hill (Constant Bliss, Winnimere, Bayley Hazen Blue, &amp; Cabot Clothbound Cheddar). Delicious!<br /><br />Not only was I impressed by the cheeses, but also by the story behind Jasper Hill, and I figured you'd be interested too. So last week I contacted Jack and he was kind enough to spend some time talking with me about the Vermont dairy cooperative. Right now, Vermont is losing about 30 dairies annually and in fact they've lost some 32 farms this year already! <a href="http://www.jasperhillfarm.com/">Jasper Hill Farm</a> founders, Mateo and Andy Kehler are all about trying to make small Vermont dairy farms viable (cheese-making is one of the ways to do this), and "The Cellars" is an extension of that vision. Currently, Cabot is paying a fee to age their clothbound cheddar at The Cellars, and the cool thing about this is that those funds are used to help small dairies in all aspects of their cheese-making business whether it's training, development, equipment, marketing, or distribution.<br /><br />A great example of how it all works is a cheese called Oma (pictured above), produced by the Von Trapp family and aged at The Cellars. Dan and Sebastian Von Trapp are former Jasper Hill employees who used their gained knowledge to turn their family dairy farm into a viable producer of cheese. This 1 lb., washed-rind cheese made with the milk of Jersey and Ayrshire cows is currently only available in small amounts in New England. However, Jack tells me they are working on bringing the cheese to the west coast and that I can (hopefully) get some for my store by the holidays. I can't WAIT!<br /><br />Not only does "The Cellars" help to create new cheese-makers like the Von Trapps, but it also helps established cheese-makers like the Crawford family who make a wonderful cheese called Vermont Ayr. The Crawfords collaborated with Mateo and the cellar's affineur to improve their cheese. They were able to tweak the make of the cheese a little so that the right flora and cultures would grow and improve its flavor profile. This cheese just made its way to California and we're intending to bring it to our counter this fall, but in the meantime I drove about 40 miles to get my hands on some (in true junkie fashion), and let me tell you it was worth the drive!<br /><br />Vermont Ayr is a raw milk alpine style cheese with an off-white paste that delivers a rich, nutty, grassy, slightly floral flavor with a mildly sweet (almost pineapple-like) finish. YUM! The day I tried this cheese happened to be my birthday so I bought enough to bring with me to my b-day dinner with friends. They snapped it up so quickly I regretted not buying more, and being the junkie I am, I almost regretted not keeping it all for myself!<br /><br />Congrats to Jasper Hill for a job well done. Keep up the good work!<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-8410562940172482927?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-53511924093544033332009-08-03T16:02:00.000-07:002009-08-04T19:42:25.911-07:00Dinner at The Ritz<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/Snh_UtoK1lI/AAAAAAAAAIk/mG7oGR7JJH4/s1600-h/100_2060.JPG"><img style="margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; float: left; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 150px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/Snh_UtoK1lI/AAAAAAAAAIk/mG7oGR7JJH4/s200/100_2060.JPG" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5366178949834135122" border="0" /></a><br />Over the weekend, Noah and I had dinner with his parents and sister at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. We were there to celebrate several occasions: my MIL's birthday, my birthday, and our wedding anniversary. We're very fortunate in that Noah's life-long friend, Ron Siegel, is the Executive Chef at the <a href="http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/SanFrancisco/Dining/TheDiningRoom/Team.htm">Ritz dinning room</a>. Although Noah has had the chef's tasting menu at many of the places Ron's worked, this was my first experience. And man, was I ever blown away! The Chef presented us with about 15 of his creations (not including dessert, which was also wonderful). The food was so complex and unique, and there was such a huge variety it's hard for me to describe it. But one of my favorites was a glass bowl that had thin plastic stretched across the top. The bowl was filled with hickory smoke. Not like hickory chips or anything, actual <i>smoke</i> folks. On top of the stretched plastic sat crumbled brioche, caviar, and a perfectly cooked quail egg. Before we ate, we were directed to take our spoon and tap the plastic lightly to release the hickory smoke so we would have that olfactory sensation along with our bite of food. Pure genius...<div><br /></div><div>The plates Chef Siegel prepared for us were not heavy in the cheese department - just an appropriate sliver here and there as a compliment to the main ingredient. However, I had the great fortune to be seated right next to the resting area for the cheese cart (see photo above). I was happy to note they offered a really nice selection, with a slant toward local producers. A couple of my featured favorites were as follows:<br /><br />*Camellia (Redwood Hill): a delectable Camembert-style goat's milk cheese with a mild, buttery flavor and penicillum candidum rind. Last fall we included Camellia as part of the cheese course we offered at the Palo Alto Black &amp; White Ball. We served it on a sweet baguette with an apricot-cumin preserve - definitely a big hit with the guests.<br /><br />*Bayley Hazen Blue (Jasper Hill): a raw milk blue cheese made with morning Ayrshire milk. I first tried this cheese at a seminar I attended earlier this year, and immediately took to the flavor of fresh milk, nuts, chocolate, and grass. It's milder and a little drier than other blues, and that's one of the things I like about it. Because the veining doesn't over-power the taste buds, it's possible to to enjoy a complexity of flavor which can be lacking at times in other blues.<br /><br />Tomorrow I'm scheduled to chat with Jack Dean of Jasper Hill Farms and I intend to get as much back ground as I can on Bayley Hazen and the other wonderful cheeses coming out of the Vermont cooperative. Stay tuned...<br /><br /><br /></div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-5351192409354403333?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-70863181556272065562009-07-31T16:19:00.000-07:002009-08-01T15:35:07.677-07:00Trip to America's Dairyland<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/SnTC-PFx4II/AAAAAAAAAIc/zBvc6N7vhTs/s1600-h/100_1859.JPG"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 150px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I76BlZQj7yA/SnTC-PFx4II/AAAAAAAAAIc/zBvc6N7vhTs/s200/100_1859.JPG" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5365127430563553410" /></a><br />I spent the majority of my first 8 years on this planet living in Wisconsin, aka America's Dairyland. I'm pretty sure this is where I crossed the "invisible line" from heavy cheese-eater to cheese junkie. They say once you've crossed the line into full-blown addiction, you can never return to being a moderate user. Where cheese is concerned, this is true for me. Although I became a Californian at age 8 and immediately fell in love with the cheese produced here by "Happy Cows," I still return to my old haunt (namely Door County, WI) ostensibly to visit my family, but mostly to eat cheese. Specifically fresh cheddar cheese curds. There is no place on earth I know of where you can get curds like the ones in Wisconsin. <div><br /></div><div>This year Noah accompanied me for the first time ever, and I was so excited for him to try the curds I've been telling him about for years, that I made my mom pull off the highway at Renard's cheese shop on our way home from the airport. When I spotted the bags of curds, I was as giddy and excited as, well, as an addict about to get her fix. Of course Noah wanted to look around the store and make price comparisons between their store and ours, but I was like "who cares? I got the goods, lets go find a quiet corner somewhere and devour this bag!" I'm not sure I can accurately describe the special experience imparted by these curds, but here goes: they have the smell of fresh milk, and by "fresh" I mean just came out of the cow seconds ago. They are slightly damp with a springy consistency to them, and they squeak when you chew them. Most importantly they have a fresh, slightly grassy, lactic flavor. And all of this is rolled into a small, light orange squiggly shaped piece of wonderfulness. Deee-licious!</div><div><br /></div><div>In Door County where my family has a home, it's popular to cover the curds in batter and deep fry them. While this is quite tasty - naturally, since even a deep-fried running shoe would taste good in my book - I personally prefer the simple flavor of cheddar curds made fresh that morning.</div><div><br /></div><div>One last note: even though I just went on a rant about how wonderful Wisconsin cheese curds are, and it's true, I don't want to sound as though we don't make great curds here in California. They're just different. At my store, I carry 3 varieties of white cheddar curds from local northern California dairy Spring Hill (plain curds, garlic curds, and Mike's Firehouse curds). If you are so inclined, stop by and we'll give you a sample. You won't be disappointed!</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-7086318155627206556?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6109362693796904305.post-55936090935821580512009-07-20T10:35:00.000-07:002009-07-20T12:16:15.069-07:00SF Cheese School 3-Day IntensiveIn late spring of this year, I was fortunate enough to attend <a href="http://www.cheeseschoolsf.com">The Cheese School of San Francisco's</a> 3-Day Intensive Education Seminar lead by Daphne <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_0">Zappos</span>, founder of <a href="http://essexcheese.com">Essex Street Cheese Company</a>. The <span class="blsp-spelling-corrected" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">curriculum</span> covered everything including the history of cheese and <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_2">cheesemaking</span> techniques, pairing, quality control and service, and most importantly the American cheese movement. We had two "field trips" during the seminar; the first to <a href="http://www.rosepistolasf.com">Rose <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_3">Pistola</span></a> restaurant where we had a group dinner including cheese <span class="blsp-spelling-corrected" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4">service</span>. For our second off-site visit we went to <a href="http://www.cheeseplus.com">Cheese Plus</a> in Russian Hill where we toured the store and listened to an extremely informative lecture by owner Ray <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_5">Bair</span> on the ins and outs of running a successful cheese shop.<div><br /></div><div>The seminar was really well put together in terms of the educational aspect, and I felt I gained important knowledge in every area of the cheese world that would be important to someone in my position. On top of that it afforded me the opportunity to meet some important (and very interesting) people in the industry, some of whom I've since done business with.</div><div><br /></div><div>However, great educational and business opportunity aside, my absolutely favorite part about cheese school was the chance to try approximately 80 different cheeses in 3 days. That's truly heaven for a cheese junkie like me! What were my favorite cheeses, you ask? Here are my top 3:</div><div><br /></div><div>1. <b><span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_6">L'Amuse</span> Gouda</b>: A wonderfully nutty, <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_7">caramel</span> flavored aged Gouda that would pair nicely with espresso. This special cheese starts out as a 2-month old wheel from <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_8">Beemster</span> and is lovingly nurtured and matured to perfection over a 2 year period by Betty <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_9">Koster</span> of <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_10">Framagerie</span> <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_11">l'Amuse</span>. </div><div><br /></div><div>2. <b>Cone <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_12">de</span> Port Aubry</b>: The attack on this semi-hard goat's milk cheese is <span class="blsp-spelling-corrected" id="SPELLING_ERROR_13">reminiscent</span> of sea-salt, followed by a milky, <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_14">mushroomy</span> flavor. The rind provides a peppery note at the end. Absolute perfection, we're looking forward to adding this one to our case in the fall of 2009!</div><div><br /></div><div>3. <b><span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_15">Cabbot</span> <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_16">Clothbound</span> Cheddar</b>: The first thing I noticed about this cheddar is its delightful aroma which brings to mind freshly cut grass and pineapple. The skillful maturation of this cheese at Jasper Hill Farm gives it its <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_17">parmesan</span>-like texture and the bursting flavor crystals which are enough to send any cheese junkie over the edge. This is a delicious cheese with a great story (see my upcoming post - an interview with Jack <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_18">Deen</span> of Jasper Hill). Cabot <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_19">Clothbound</span> made its debut at our store in June at our 50<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_20">th</span> anniversary party and was a huge success! </div><div><br /></div><div>All in all, my 3 days at cheese school were some of the most memorable in my career to-date...</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/6109362693796904305-5593609093582158051?l=www.thecheesejunkie.com' alt='' /></div>Sarah Hikenhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17302471137642687305noreply@blogger.com2