I took a “Master Class” at the cheese school during Fancy Food week. It was taught by the awesome Zoe Brickley of Jasper Hill Farm, the same woman who put together this video:
Anyways the class was “Milk, from Grass to Vat” and it was a great trip through the chemical reactions that make cheese magic happen. While the class acknowledged that milk is just one (important) part of the cheesemaking process, the attention to detail on milk composition and the effects of things like feed, mold, yeast, holding time etc, was impressive.
And the cheese was good.
(From top: Harbison (Jasper Hill milk), Harbison (Andersonville Farm milk), Winnimere (oops, not shown), Landaff, Txiki, Tomme de la Chataignerie, Quadrello di Bufala (aka “Buffalo Taleggio”) Cabot Clothbound (Kempton Farm), Cabot Clothbound (pooled milk from Cabot Co-op)
What can I say that would be new and exciting about the Fancy Food Show? I have probably written pretty much the same entry about it every year for a decade. The best bits (that I am willing to publish) are already in my book. One can only write about desperation capitalism, food safety no-nos, the hip-marketing of peasants, and vanity projects of the rich and famous so many times, eh?
“We are Specialty Food” indeed
I know, I know. There is more to it than that. There is cheese, which skirts these issues more delicately than many other food products. And it is, one assumes, why you are reading this post anyway.
I like the show because it brings in cheese friends from out of town. I like it because it’s one of two big chances a year for me to talk to cheesemakers from around the country and the world. I like it because the Cheese School Master Classes are pretty awesome. I like it because every couple of years I taste something amazing that rocks my cheese world.*
I don’t like it because… trade show. If you’ve been to one, you know what I mean. I do feel for all the folks who had to set up the show on Saturday and work through their weekends. I’m still exhausted from the food holidays myself. Glad I don’t need to do any behind the scenes work.
But that’s where I was for the greater part of last week… in the Moscone Center with the Fancy Food, the unfancy food, and all the food people. Tasted some great cheese and saw some awesome folks. Now that I can catch a breath, I’ll be writing it up this week.
*BTW, great news about the 2014 ACS conference location. The conference chair told me to spread the word but the ACS people said, “Wait until the contracts are signed” so I will keep it to myself for now. (It’s not SF)
Lots of Fancy Food Show stuff this week and many out of town visitors. I’ll have a lot to say next week, but no time to post in this one.
This week my purely arbitrary cheese obsession of the week is the Tome des Pyrenees affinaged by Rodolphe Meunier.
It’s bark-wrapped raw cow’s milk from Basque country. Unlike most bark-wrapped cheese it is not oozy, but semi-soft, at least the versions in the U.S. Now that Americans (myself included) have proven to themselves that they can enjoy strong cheeses, I hope that cheese like this can come into popularity. Tomme des Pyrenees is not strong at all, it’s the — sometimes confounding to shoppers — epitome of a cheese that is mild, but complex.
It’s earthy, woodsy, rich, fruity and just an all around pleasure to eat. You have to take a second to appreciate it because the flavor does not all show itself at once. If you bring it to room temp and let the cheese linger on your tongue, you will be rewarded with a cheese you will keep tasting because 1. You will be trying to isolate all the different flavor aspects and 2., it is just an awesome experience.
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My favorite thing about the Niners annihilation of Green Bay last weekend was an email from a certain Wisconsin cheesemaker who shall remain nameless. When former dairyman and Niners QB Colin Kaepernick threw an interception that Green Bay returned for a touchdown to go up 7-0 I received this: “Don’t feel too bad…there’s always next year for you guys.”
Since I was watching the game, I didn’t see this until the next morning after the dairy farmer-led Niners scored 45 points and Green Bay only scored one more touchdown that mattered. Arthur over at Wisconsin Foodie had also bet me over the result of the game. The loser would have to proclaim the other state’s cheese as the best on their facebook page. That poor guy had a lot of angry readers when he posted that California cheese is the best in the country. Not sure if there were death threats but it wouldn’t have surprised me.
I love our cheese and football rivalries. Especially when California wins.
I made the Mountain View Public Library year end slide show! It’s just this awesome picture :32 in
I’m not sure I mentioned here that there are t-shirts available with me praising/mocking Beehive Barely Buzzed Cheese. It’s a fundraiser for the Daphne Zepos Educational Fund t-shirts
Janet Fletcher mentioned Rainbow and a bunch of awesome cheeses in her year end column. Thanks Janet!
And finally, a cheesemonger in NYC got in trouble for his cheese labels then got reprieve. At our old store, we used to put quotes on our receipts but it too got to be too much to deal with. The last one I remember, circa 1995, was “Make out with your same-sex partner at punk shows and slam dance at gay bars.”