Jokigen & Ume Shu sake
When I met Barrie Lynn, the Cheese Impresario, back in 2012 and she suggested we do a cheese and sake pairing, to be honest, I thought she was joking. See, at the time of our discussion, we were sitting at a cheese and beer pairing and had been, well, I had been, consuming quite a bit of REALLY spectacular fermentation of both the cheese and alcoholic nature. Adding to my gentle buzz was the awe of being at my first American Cheese Society Conference, and now someone I admired wanted to do some sort of story with me! After assuring me she was serious, Barrie Lynn said she’d call me and arrange the whole thing. Well, not only did I receive a call, I received two bottles of sake, cheese, and instructional emails to do the tasting over the phone, which was both awesome and terrifying, as I had never even tried sake before, let alone heard of pairing it with cheese. What had I gotten myself into? Continue reading
When thinking about Ohio, specifically Portage County, cheese is not the first thing that comes to mind. Lush green pastures of the various farms, quaint small towns that appear frozen in time, and narrow dirt roads leading to who-knows-where dot this beautiful countryside. Yet dotted throughout the county are artisans yielding their craft and producing fresh, sweet, and often surprising goat’s milk cheese beyond compare. One such artisan is Jean Mackenzie, founder and President of Mackenzie Creamery in Hiram, Ohio. Continue reading
Read any cheese blog or cheese enthusiast magazine (Culture or Cheese Connoisseur) and it is a sure bet there is some mention of Hook’s Cheese 15 year cheddar. This seriously aged cheese was brought to market back in February of 2009 and has skyrocketed to one of the most sought after and highly praised cheeses in the country.
Prior to all the praise, many had never heard of Tony and Julie Hook. Who are these pioneers of the cheddar world? Where did they come from? How did this 15 year cheddar come to be? Is cheddar all Hook’s Cheese has to offer? I had the opportunity to speak with Tony recently and discovered there is a whole lot more to this Wisconsin creamery than cheddar. Continue reading
Spring is bustin’ out all over and the barn doors of Beemster Farms are opening to the lush untouched spring pastures for the first time after the cold and windy winter. The grasses of the Beemster Polder, situated 20 feet below sea level, have grown long and thick over the cold months and are now ideal for grazing. The cows eagerly gobble up this sweet new grass and produce milk that is is the most coveted of the year. The lush young grasses give their milk a special creamy flavor and texture and is used to produce the limited edition Beemster Graskaas.
Beemster is an artisan Dutch cheese, a North Holland Dutch Gouda that is crafted exclusively in the Beemster Polder (a polder is a low tract of land enclosed by embankments with no connection to outside water sources). The cows graze only on pesticide-free pastures that contain rare blue sea clay. This clay contains minerals that give the milk a sweeter and softer milkfat, giving Beemster cheeses a softer and creamier texture than other Dutch cheeses. The name is trademarked: Beemster can only be made in the Beemster Polder. The farm is a co-op which was set up so that the farmers’ wives would no longer have to make the cheese on their individual farms. Over the years, this small co-op stood by its original recipe, fine tuning where improvements could be made. Continue reading
On February 27th, Whole Foods stores world-wide attempted to break the Parmigiano Reggiano wheel cracking record set back in 2008. Did they do it? To be honest, I’m not sure yet. What I am sure of is this event was a major hit with staff and customers alike at the University Heights, Ohio location. One of the coolest things about cheese is that it unites all aspects of food as shown by the many tasting stations set up throughout the store. From wine and beer to dessert, this cheese let its versatility shine. Continue reading
I love cheese and I love caramel, but eating the two together doesn’t seem very appealing. That is until I discovered Roomano (not to be confused with Romano) cheese. This hard Gouda-like cheese from Friesland in the northern part of The Netherlands is a rare treat. Aged anywhere from three to four years the flavor is beefy and intense without being stinky and overpowering. A hard paste infused with calcium lactate crystals gives Roomano a fantastic texture suitable for grating and cooking as well as an interesting addition to any cheese plate. Continue reading