Bon Bouche

A Good Mouthful…of Cheese

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Back to School

This past Thursday, I went back to school for the first time in more than four years! I have to say, it was much yummier this time around. But, that isn’t too surprising, given the educational institution: The Cheese School of San Francisco.

The Cheese School of San Francisco is an independent institution dedicated entirely to helping people maximize their enjoyment and appreciation of cheese through tasting and education. They offer tasting classes for cheese enthusiasts, master classes for cheese and other food industry professionals, and a 3-day intensive Cheesemonger’s Program (on my wish-list for the future). I wasn’t sure if I had enough knowledge to take a Master Class, so I signed up for one of the tasting courses: Desert Island Cheeses, taught by Anthea Stolz.

Anthea Stolz is the cheese buyer at Bi-Rite Market, the amazing-but-fancy grocery store around the corner from my apartment where I like to go and spend too much money on cheese. Considering that Anthea’s buying choices have been the basis for much of my previous cheese consumption, I figured I could trust her picks. She’s also been friendly and helpful whenever I’ve had a cheese-related question, so I knew she would be a great instructor — informative and insightful, but also totally approachable. The concept behind the course is pretty simple: You’re stuck on a desert island, and all you can take with you are 9 different cheeses. What would you pick? Anthea took the challenge pretty seriously, picking a variety of cheeses based not only on taste, but also considering what would last and sustain her the longest. I think this made for a fun and extra informative lesson, and I admire her dedication to survival!

Overall, the class was great. The space at The Cheese School is really beautiful, and the classroom contained a lovely and large horseshoe-shaped table with a place set for each of the approximately 15 students. Each place setting had a glass of wine, a glass of sparkling wine, a glass of water, a paper handout with a list of the cheeses and space for notes and, of course, an enticing plate containing 9 generous bites of mouthwatering cheeses and an assortment of dried fruit & marcona almonds (my new favorite snack).

Once all of the students were seated, Anthea took a moment to introduce herself , and then we went right into the tasting! For each cheese, Anthea discussed why she chose it, spoke about where the cheese comes from, the cheese-maker and the specific cheese-making process, and walked/talked us through the flavors and textures of what we were tasting. Maybe it was just the wine kicking in, but I found the class really starting to come together around the third cheese (I’ll get to all that in a minute), when Anthea seemed to get more comfortable being in the spotlight and the students started speaking up with opinions (lots of ooh’s and aah’s) and asking more questions.

While I learned A LOT and had a really wonderful time, I did find the class to be more of a social event/setting (and less like a classroom) than I had anticipated. (Note to Bay Area Romantics: If your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/partner of any kind is even remotely into cheese, you could score major points doing date night at The Cheese School.) I mentioned this impression to one of The Cheese School employees on my way out, and she suggested that I try a master class for a more ‘serious’ session. So, I am now signed up to take the ‘Identifying Cheese Flavors Master Class’ on March 13th, and I will be seriously studying  my Cheese Primer (aka Cheese Bible) until then!

Okay, okay, I won’t make you wait any longer. I now present to you what we ate in class, i.e. ‘Anthea’s Desert Island Cheeses.’

Cowgirl Creamery – Clabbered Cottage Cheese (Pasteurized Cow’s Milk, Pt. Reyes Station, CA)

I have to admit, I was quite surprised to look at the plate and see a Cottage Cheese, but once I had a taste I could understand what it was doing there. The Cowgirl Creamery Clabbered Cottage Cheese is made with organic non-fat milk from the Straus Family Creamery and is dressed with additional clabbered (i.e. curdled) cream. This is, without a doubt, more rich and creamy than any cottage cheese you’ve had in the past, but what surprised me the most was the tangy, sour taste (which makes sense when you consider the clabbered cream). To be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this cheese, but that’s not surprising consider that I HATE yogurt. The tang of this cheese was very much like the taste of a high-quality yogurt so, if that’s your thing, you’ll probably fall head over heels for the Cowgirl Creamery Clabbered Cottage Cheese. Anthea made this her first choice because, for her, it’s just that: her first choice. This is her comfort cheese, what she wants to eat whenever she first gets home from vacation or a rough day.

Andante Dairy – Crottin (Pasteurized Goat’s Milk, Petaluma, CA)

Soyoung Scanlan is the cheesemaker at Andante Dairy, and Anthea could not stop talking about how incredible she is. After studying life & dairy science and working as a biochemist, Soyoung decided to become a cheesemaker. Soyoung exclusively uses Jersey Cow’s milk, which is known as the best cow’s milk for cheese making, and she uses goat milk from the dairy farm on which her plant is operated. The Crottin is one of those goat milk cheeses, and is the only cheese that Andante makes that is a direct replica of a traditional variety. Crottin is a french-style, Loire Valley goat’s milk cheese. When the Crottin is young, it is soft and simple, moist and milky. As it ages, it becomes a little bit more complex — it gets firmer, more tangy, and finishes with a nutty taste. I liked this cheese a lot, and it’s one I that I think new cheese-eaters would really enjoy, especially as a introduction to goat cheeses. I’ll definitely buy this cheese, and I’d like to taste it when it’s very young, moist, and room temperature!

Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery – Double Cream Cremont (Pasteurized cow & goat’s milk, Websterville VT)

Well, well, well, if it isn’t my old friend the Double Cream Cremont! When I saw this little guy on the plate, I recognized it immediately, and I couldn’t help but feel so excited for any of my fellow students who were about to try this cheese for the first time. As I knew would happen, just about everyone fawned over the deliciousness of this cheese after they put it into their mouth. I’ve already written about the Double Cream Cremont multiple times, so I won’t go back into detail, but I will say that it just never gets old. I did learn that the difference between a double cream and a triple cream cheese has to do with the butterfat content. Double cream cheese has to have a butterfat content of 60% and triple cream cheese has to have a butterfat content of at least 75%. Considering that actual butter has a butterfat content of 80-85%, a triple cream (which the cremont is NOT) is pretty close to the real deal. So, my previous comment about the Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam tasting like delicious butter makes perfect sense!

Ardi Gasna – Imported by Andante Dairy (Raw Sheep’s Milk, Pyrenees, France)

Anthea first fell in love with cheese when she studied abroad in Provence, France. She says that eating this cheese is like being transported to that amazing place, and I really don’t doubt that that’s true. I have a confession: Before I tasted this cheese, I thought that I wasn’t really a fan of sheep’s milk cheeses. While I did enjoy the Bohemian Blue, all the other sheep cheeses that I’ve eaten have been too hard or too sour, and I just figured that they just weren’t for me. Well, consider me a changed woman. If I can eat sheep’s milk cheeses as delicious as the Ardi Gasna, then I’m going to become a sheep’s milk devotee! Ardi Gasna means “sheep’s cheese” in Basque, and it is a traditional hard sheep’s milk cheese. The Ardi Gasna may have a hard texture, but it’s soft and rich once it’s in your mouth. The flavor is clean, and you can really taste what the animal has eaten: Grass and flowers, nuts, and a sharp finish. I was really blown away by how quickly this cheese grew on me; I loved it more with every bite. Based on what I know of his tastes, I think this is a cheese that Mike would love, and I look forward to buying some for him to taste soon. Also: If you know anyone who lives for Pecorino Romano or other sharp/salty and hard cheeses, they should try this. It’s different, but similar, and just amazingly edible.

Keen’s Cheddar (Raw Cow’s Milk, Somerset UK)

Wow. Forget what you think you know about Cheddar. THIS is cheddar, and it’s better than what you (and I) have been buying at the supermarket. Keen’s Cheddar is a farmstead raw milk cheddar (meaning the cheese is made on site, where the cows graze and are milked) which has been artisanally made since 1899.  It’s cloth bound and matured for 12 months in a cave. Keen’s looks like your average cheddar, but the taste is anything but average. The texture is as you would expect — firm, but not hard — but the aging leaves the cheese with were some surprising and delicious crystals. The taste was mouth-wateringly sharp, but really complex and savory at the same time. An added bonus: Anthea told us all about the cheddaring process, which is quite interesting!

L’Amuse Aged Gouda (Pasteurized Cow’s Milk, Cono Cheesemaking Plant, Holland)

Oh, dear goodness. Just thinking of this cheese is making me nostalgic for the one time I was lucky enough to put it in my mouth. Seriously, you guys, it’s that good. There were many standouts that evening, but I have to say that the L’Amuse was my number one favorite. In an earlier post (Cheese Brunch With My Parents), I mentioned that we had some Noord Hollander Aged Gouda, which really knocked my socks off. Well, all due respect to the Noord Hollander (and I mean that), this L’Amuse Aged Gouda blows that cheese right out of the water (of course, this one is significantly harder to find and more expensive). Unlike most Dutch Goudas, L’Amuse signature Gouda is not matured in cooler temperatures. The mid-temperature affinage (cheese maturing) in the cheese cellar allows the cheese to develop a more rounded flavor. The cheeses are matured for 2 years. The paste of the cheese (and yes, it’s called paste even when it’s anything but pasty) is a dark amber color, and there are insanely flavorful protein crystals throughout. The taste is nutty, meaty, and a mix of sweet/salty. It really is like salted caramel, but…cheesy. This cheese really melts in your mouth, and the taste lingers for a long time. I wish it lingered there forever!

Adelegger (Pasteurized Cow’s Milk, Bavaria, Germany)

Dear Mom: I have a cheese for you! The Adelegger is a traditional Bavarian Mountain-style Cheese, and I’m pretty sure that my mother would love this more than anyone else I know. The Adelegger is named after the the alpine area on which the cows graze in Bavaria, Germany. Using organic methods of production, a cooperative of seven farmers have been supplying the milk since 1998 to master cheese maker Evelyn Wild. At the small dairy of Käskuche Isny she crafts this firm-textured cheese, which is washed multiple times in white wine infused with herbs. The cheese is then aged from fourteen to eighteen months, when it develops a fudgy texture (seriously there’s no other way to describe it) and a meaty, nutty and buttery flavor. Anthea also noted that this is a great melting cheese, which immediately made me think of a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with some mustard and arugula. I won’t rest easy until I make that dream a reality.

Parmigiano-Reggiano (Raw Cow’s Milk, Emilia-Romagna Italy)

Anthea put some Parmigiano-Reggiano on our plates to prove that it’s more than just a grating cheese. Well, that, and because a giant 80 lb. wheel of this stuff could last a long time on a desert island! And, both reasons seem sound to me. I’m going to be honest with you: I am tired of typing and I have somewhere to be, so I’m going to let you do your own research on this famous food. I will say that this, the real deal, is different than you think it’s going to be. When you grate it on pasta, you’re only getting a fraction of the flavor. The chunk of this that I put on my tongue was so intense, with a really salty and citrus-y taste. Yum!

Fourme d’Ambert (Raw Cow’s Milk Blue, Auvergne, France)

Alright everyone, the moment of truth: The Blue Cheese on the plate. As you may know, I’m not really a fan of blue cheese. Or, let me rephrase that: I was not previously a fan of blue cheese. This one cheese, the Fourme d’Ambert, has changed all of that. In the past, even when I’ve “liked” a blue cheese, that really just means that I can stand it, and that I’d rather be eating blue cheese than no cheese at all. But this: This I liked. This I would be eating right now if I had some in the house. The Fourme d’Ambert is a rich and creamy cow’s milk blue cheese from the Auvergne region of France. It has a thin, yellowish rind, spotted with sandy molds. The paste inside is very white with distinctive bluing (see picture). Although the scent is very earthy, the Fourme d’Ambert has a creamy and mild, almost mushroom-y flavor, with a slightly nutty finish. The paste is soft and smooth, and reminded me a little bit of cream cheese (in texture, not taste). I liked that this was very savory, and really had an outdoor flavor. I think Mike and I could have a pound of this and a few loaves of crusty bread and consider it one of the best meal’s we’d ever shared together. Not that we would do that, but….we might.

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The Guardian UK is Not Too Fond of Alex James

My friend Patrick is a pretty big Guardian UK reader and sent this article my way.

While I do find it interesting that the former Blur bassist is now a dairy farmer and cheese-maker (I am especially impressed at his perspective on touring with the band: “I always liked to keep an eye on the cheese situation at large when I was on the move and for many years saw touring with the band merely as an excuse to travel the world tracking and eating obscure types of cheese.”), what impressed me most about this article is the extreme Britishness. Just read it! Never has so much scorn been so politely applied to one subject. Well done Marina Hyde!

 

Cheese Tastings: Brunch With My Parents

(Clockwise from Top Left:  Neal’s Yard Colston Basset Stilton; Meadow Creek Dairy Appalachian; Cowgirl Creamy Mt. Tam; Vermont Butter & Cheese Company Double-Cream Cremont; Noord Hollander Gouda)

Mmm. Look at all that cheese. Wouldn’t you like to try that cheese? Well, if you were lucky enough to be me, my parents, or Mike this past Sunday, you would have!

My parents were in San Francisco this weekend, and before hitting the road back down to L.A. on Sunday afternoon, Mike and I had them over for what I am now and forever going to call ‘Cheese Brunch’.  I want to have so many of these! Before my parents showed up, I (lovingly) ordered Mike around so that everything would be ready to go. We were slicing bread, plating crackers, making fruit salad and, of course, cutting cheese (everyone’s favorite joke). I actually put all of the cheeses out with a little card next to each one that had the cheese name, where it comes from, what it’s made of, and what it should taste like. Of course, I forgot to take a picture of that. Mike commented that I should be a party planner and, I have to admit, I kind of agree. I’m not big on cooking, but I love plating and preparing. Think there’s a business in bring-to-your-home Cheese Brunch? One day.

Anyhow, I digress. Like I said, I set it all out: cheeses, sliced baguette,  crackers, fig compote, sliced pears, insanely sweet Cara Cara orange slices, strawberry and blueberry fruit salad, and an assortment of delicious (and nutritious) pastries brought by Mr. & Mrs. Kaufman. I am more than happy to start any day with a healthy dose of cheese, but this brunch was extra special because it was the first time I was able to share my new passion with my parents. It was a lot of fun to flex my (limited) knowledge and even more fun to hear what everyone else had to say. One of the things that excites me most about working in cheese is the prospect of sharing something wonderful and delicious with others and helping them to get a better sense of what their taste buds like best. On Sunday I was able to do that with my family.

I added four options to our familiar fromage (see this post for in-depth Double-Cream Cremont coverage). Read about each of them below and scroll to the bottom to see what we each picked as favorite!

Cowgirl Creamery – Mt. Tam

You may recognize Mt. Tam as one of the cheeses served at my Super Bowl gathering, but since I didn’t do a real write-up then, I’ll do it now. Mt. Tam is a triple-cream cheese made with pasteurized cow’s milk from the Straus Family Dairy. It is deliciously bloomy, with a really smooth and creamy, earthy taste. I like to let it sit for about an hour before serving, because it gets perfectly spreadable and really messy. I love messy. However, the next day, I came home from work starving, pulled the leftover Mt. Tam out of the fridge, and popped a chunk into my mouth. The experience was amazing! Eating this cold and hard was like eating the world’s most delicious piece of butter. It tasted incredible. One of my new favorite things is trying one cheese at many different temperatures.

Noord Hollander Gouda

Back in the “old days” (before I started learning about cheese), I thought that all Gouda was Smoked Gouda. Luckily, I was wrong, and I’m not the only one to make that mistake! Turns out that smoked Gouda is basically just a cheap version of the real deal. No offense to smoked Gouda fans (I am one), but if you don’t look into aged Gouda (not smoked), you are seriously missing out. Noord Hollander is a 4-year aged gourmet cheese, made from high quality pasteurized cow’s milk in Northern Holland (hence the name). The milk from this region is sweeter and richer than other Dutch milk, and you can taste that in the cheese. Noord Hollander has a really deep caramel/butterscotch flavor, and the aging process leaves it riddled with salty-sweet crystals. Basically, this is the candy of cheese, which is perfect for me, because I’d rather eat cheese than candy.

Meadow Creek Dairy – Appalachian

I’ve been hearing/reading a lot of good things about the ‘unexpected’ pleasures (?) of Southern Cheeses, so I wanted to try one for myself! Meadow Creek is a family-owned grazing farm in Galax, Virginia and, let me tell you, they make a good cheese. The Appalachian is a raw cow’s milk cheese with a speckled white rind and a slightly yellow firm-but-silky paste. The yellow is fitting, I think, because the cheese has just a slight taste of lemony sweetness and some grassiness, too. They say that with cheeses like this, you can really taste what the cow is eating. Assuming that’s true, those are some lucky cows.

Neal’s Yard Dairy – Colston Bassett Stilton

Oh Blue! We are getting to know one another. As regular readers know, I don’t have a long loving history with Blue Cheese. In fact, I never really liked it, but I’m learning to give it a chance. And, after I had such a good experience with the Bohemian Blue, I knew I couldn’t give up. Still, I know absolutely nothing about blues, and I trust myself to pick them even less. As such, you can imagine my delight to see Anthea Stolz, the cheese buyer for Bi-Rite, standing right next to me in the cheese aisle. I explained to her my blue cheese aversion (I’m not into anything too runny or drippy, and I like a lot of not-blue with my blue), but also mentioned that there would be some big blue fans in attendance (namely Mike and my mom), and asked for a recommendation. She let me sample the Neal’s Yard CBS (I’m shortening for speed) — which I had already heard and read about — and it tasted too amazing to pass up. This pasteurized cows milk blue (wow, guess I went almost all cow this tasting) has a rich flavor and somewhat basic tang (in the basic vs. acidic way, not in the not-special way), with a more-buttery and less-crumbly texture. I love buttery, and I liked the strong flavor of this. It was a big hit with the blue lovers, and that’s all that matters.

Note: Tomorrow I will be taking my first class at The Cheese School of SF, and it’s being taught by the aforementioned Anthea! It’s called ‘Desert Island Cheeses’ and she’ll be introducing the class to the cheeses she couldn’t live without. I’m pumped!

Okay, so, that’s the wrap-up. Now, for personal MVC’s (most valuable cheeses, duh):

Bonnie: I still have to go with the Double-Cream Cremont, but of the new cheeses sampled, I really got a kick out of that Noord Hollander Gouda.

Mike: A blue boy through and through, Mike mostly stuck with the Neal’s Yard Colston Bassett Stilton.

Mom: As a lemon-lover, it makes sense that Mom’s favorite was the Appalachian (though she had a hard time picking just one).

Dad: We learned that, like me, Dad’s a fan of the creamy cheeses. His favorite, by a long shot, was the Double-Cream Cremont.

Okay, all this cheese talk is making me hungry. Time to go eat!

Read This: Cremes & Bubblies Pairing Class Review

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So, I must be late to the game, because I JUST discovered amazing cheese blog, It’s Not You, It’s Brie. I have a lot of catching up to do in those archives but, until then, I’m favoring this most recent post.

Blogger Kirstin Jackson taught a class on Sparkling Wine & Cheese pairings at The Cheese School of San Francisco (where I’ll be taking my first class this Thursday!), and I’m seriously bumming that I wasn’t in attendance. Cremont? Rush Creek Reserve? With these favorites on the plate, I can only imagine what new loves I’d discover. And, I mean….who couldn’t use a few glasses of champagne on a Monday night?

While  I’m sorry I missed it, Kirstin generously shares her pairing tips here. I’ll be taking notes!

Let’s Go Sports Fans

Had a few boys over for the big game yesterday. While we were all sad to see New England lose, we couldn’t help but happily enjoy the cheese and other goodies on display.

What you see: Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery Bonne Bouche; Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam; Tumalo Farms Classico.

The Bonne Bouche is, at this point, an old favorite. Despite being a Cowgirl Creamery fan, it had been a VERY long time since I’d had any Mt. Tam. My best friend and her mom visited the Cowgirl Creamery outpost in the Ferry Building on Saturday morning, and presented me with this round as a gift. Words cannot describe how delicious it is and I think, at the party, it was the fan favorite. Once I had the Bonne Bouche and the Mt. Tam, I knew I needed something hard and crowd-pleasing. My friends at Mission Cheese recommended The Classico, and they were right on the money.

Rounding out the party platter: Some salami that Mike had in the fridge, curry mustard from Hop Kiln Winery in Healdsburg CA, and a little bit of fig compote.

Not pictured: The make-your-own Bloody Mary bar I put together in the kitchen. Hey, maybe if this cheese career doesn’t pan out, I can pursue event-planning. I’m not the greatest cook, but I sure do like to put a platter together.

Cheese Tastings

One of the main reasons I started this blog was so that, in addition to keeping friends and family up to date, I could also use it as a way to keep track of what I’ve learned…and what I’ve eaten. So, every now and then (frequency depending on how much my tummy can handle), I’m just going to list the cheeses I’ve tried, some information about them, and what I thought. This is probably the best way to live vicariously through me while still maintaining your own trim figures. Enjoy?

Hidden Springs – Bohemian Blue

Hidden Springs Bohemian Blue is a pasteurized sheep’s milk blue cheese that is actually made in collaboration with the neighboring Hook’s Cheese Company in Westby, Wisconsin. Named after cheesemaker Brenda Jensen’s grandparents, who were Bohemian in origin, this blue is dry and crumbly with a sweet and sour finish. For me, this is perfect. I’m usually not a big fan of wet or drippy blue cheeses, and when I told that to the friendly man behind the counter at Mission Cheese (which is where I do nearly all of my cheese ‘studying’), he recommended Bohemian Blue. When I first tried Viognier wine, I was told it was the red wine drinker’s white wine. I kind of feel that way about Bohemian Blue: It’s the blue cheese for people who don’t love blue cheese. I will be going back for more.

Jasper Hill  Farm – Constant Bliss

Constant Bliss is a hand-ladled pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont with a flavor all it’s own. Constant Bliss is soft and creamy, with an oozy layer right under the bloomy rind. I have to be honest: In this cheese, I didn’t find bliss. I was expecting a strong flavor, but I found that the texture overwhelmed the cheese and the rind was somewhat inescapable. However, the ayrshire cows at Jasper Hill are pasture-fed, so the taste of the cheese can really change from season to season. Basically, I will try this again. Also: The Cowgirl Creamery library notes that Mateo and Andy Kehler of Jasper Hill have worked hard to run a sustainable dairy and business and that they treat their cows wonderfully. Obviously, I am a big fan of theirs.

Nicasio Valley Cheese Company – Nicasio Square

Nicasio Square is a pasteurized washed-rind cow’s milk cheese which has a really rich flavor, similar to Taleggio. From the Nicasio Family Cheese Company in Nicasio California, the cheese takes the name and shape (when it’s full) of the town square at the center of Nicasio. Awesome! I loved this cheese as soon as I tried it, and immediately bought some to bring home. It was a little bit too ‘stinky’ for Mike, who admitted that the really liked the first bite, but wasn’t a big fan of the full and lingering flavor. For me, eating Nicasio Square at home was a great experiment/lesson in the importance of cheese temperature. When I let the cheese sit for about 40 minutes before eating, it was creamy and oozy, much like the picture above. The next time I ate some I was too hungry to wait, so I pulled it out of the fridge and went to town right away. It was a completely different experience! Not only was the the texture much more firm (not oozy at all), but the taste was much more subtle. Mike would have enjoyed it that time, but…I ate it all.

Uplands Cheese Company – Rush Creek Reserve

Rush Creek Reserve is a washed-rind raw cow’s milk from the Upland’s Cheese Company in Dodgeville Wisconsin. Not only is the rind washed, but it is then wrapped in spruce bark and aged for sixty days. The paste inside is luscious and silky and the spruce gives it an earthiness that you can really taste. The flavor is smokey, almost like bacon, or at least as far as I can remember (it’s been over 6 years since I’ve had any). This cheese is so good that I was licking the rind and my fingers after I ate it. I didn’t buy any to bring home, because I didn’t trust myself to make wise decisions around it. Note: Rush Creek Reserve is a seasonal cheese which is only sold November-March. So, try to get your hands on some now or you’ll have to wait until next year!

Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery – Double Cream Cremont

Much like Vanessa Williams, I too prefer to save the best for last, which is what I’ve done with this list and the Double-Cream Cremont. Oh man, you guys, this cheese is so delicious. I’m having a hard time using words. Like the Bonne Bouche from which this blog gets its name, the Double Cream Cremont is from the Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery. Double Cream Cremont is a mixed-milk cheese combining local cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and even Vermont cream. This cheese is smooth and extremely creamy. When I had this cheese as part of a sampling plate, they actually had to serve the Cremont in it’s own little dish because it was too creamy to stand on its own. You could eat this with a spoon, and I have no doubt that someday I will do just that. The rind is beyond edible with a nutty taste, and the paste/cream inside is yeasty. It tastes like a super creamy version of a nutty bread or something. I know I sound insane, but just go ahead and try it for yourself. I want to buy this cheese for everyone I love.

On Books & Libraries

“Books and libraries? But Bonnie, I thought you were moving AWAY from publishing!!”

— You Guys

 

While it’s true that I’m leaving publishing (at least for now), I could never really leave books behind. And, really, I don’t think I could shake my editorial bent, even if  wanted to (which I do not). I’ll always love reading and analyzing what’s been written, so I’m lucky that there is no shortage of books on food and, specifically, cheese. As you already know (or at least you already know if you’ve read my earlier blog entries), my first foray into reading cheese (as opposed to eating cheese), was with Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge by Gordon Edgar, and we all know how that worked out. While I’ve already given that book my clear endorsement, I can’t get rid of my compulsion to ‘make something’ out of the rows upon rows of margin notes with which I sullied the book’s pages. See, my nature can’t be tamed! I’m like the ‘Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken’ girl (okay Sonora Webster, I’m not going to pretend I don’t know her name), but instead of blind horse diving I’m just commenting on books. Similar.

In my job at Berrett-Koehler, I am often asked to write manuscript reviews on projects we have signed but not yet published. This usually results in about four page of comments on the work, broken down in to two tried & true categories: ‘Things I Liked’ and ‘Things In Need of Improvement/Suggestions.’ (Tip: Never tell an author that there’s something about their work that you “don’t like.” After putting their heart, soul, and money into what’s on paper, they are sensitive beings and rightly so.) In the case of Edgar’s book, there really wasn’t anything that I felt “needed improvement” (okay, maybe there was one story about a toothpick and a lot of blood that I could have, um, cleaned up a little bit), although I certainly wouldn’t argue against an illustrated second edition or, better yet, a video & image-enhanced e-book (think about it, Chelsea Green).

So, that just leaves us with what I DID like. Now, because none of you are paying me (yet), I’m not going to give you four pages. But, I will touch on the things I found most important.

TONE: Now, this may seem like a weird place to start, but given what I know about non-fiction writing on somewhat-daunting subjects, I cannot stress the importance of tone enough. Cheese is actually very complex subject matter (after all, science is involved) and one rife with cultural and socioeconomic implications. Basically, it can be easy to get snobby, but getting snobby doesn’t add anything for anyone. Gordon Edgar never gets snobby, and actually makes a point of deriding that tendency in others. Instead, he infuses his personality and his passion into all aspects of the book (both the more traditional memoir accounts of person experiences and the hard and fast detailed cheese info), making it as accessible and enjoyable as it is informative. If it hadn’t been done this way — if the book had been intimidating or even annoying — I might not have made the decision to try my hand at this whole endeavor.

INFORMATION: For a memoir, this puppy is jam-packed with serious and seriously helpful information. From cheese consumption statistics to the historical significance of American and other cheeses, the cheese-making and aging processes, and even the rough costs of particular cheeses, I learned more from this book than from anything else I’ve read in recent history (and that’s saying something). If you are interested or intrigued by cheese, at all, this book will be a revelation.

INSPIRATION: Like I said in the tone section, if this book had been handled differently, I might not be writing this at all. But, instead of being scared off or intimidated by the book and by Edgar’s experience, I was inspired. If a no-nonsense punk-rock dude with more of an interest in co-op work than a career in cheese can become this much of an expert, then a cheese-loving word nerd with a desire to get her hand’s on the food system can at least give it a shot, too. Learning that, like me, Edgar sucks at geography (semi-important in the world of cheese), was only icing on the cake.

So, while I could go on and on, I won’t. The point is that I loved this book, and I’m so relieved that I can pair my passion for reading with this new career path. That being said: What should I read next? Please share recommendations, if you have any, in the comments section.

 

Now, moving on from books to libraries. But, probably not the kind of library you’re thinking of. Before I carry on with this blog, I have to give credit where it is and will continue to be due — to the Cowgirl Creamery Library of Cheese. While I was already pretty familiar with Cowgirl Creamery (after all, I do follow them on Facebook), I discovered their incredible online cheese library completely by accident. Every time I tasted or read about a new cheese, I did a Google search to learn more. It wasn’t until I had done this 5 or 6 times that I realized the 1st or 2nd listing was almost always a link to Cowgirl Creamery. “But this isn’t a Cowgirl cheese!!” I exclaimed (dramatized for illustrative purposes), while clicking the link. Well, whoops! The Cowgirl Creamery Library of Cheese isn’t just a library of their cheese, but a library of all the world’s great artisan cheeses, searchable by Farm/Maker, milk type, country, and milk treatment (raw, pasteurized, etc.). The information provided on each listing is informative without being overwhelming, and is usually accompanied by a picture. As I do more writing about particular cheeses (i.e. hopefully in my next post), I have no doubt that I will continue to use this as a resource. Just wanted to put that out there.

I’m Obsessed

Just google image searching Cremont, my new constant object of desire. I think I’m becoming a Vermont Butter & Cheese groupie. More to come on that later.

 

 

Amazon Is On To Me

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