Tag Archives: Artisan

Buffalo mozzarella mayhem in Italy (again)…

Italy’s prized Buffalo mozzarella is once again thrown into a negative light after the Italian food police found 25% of the samples from Campania had been cut with cow’s milk.  An embarrassment at the very least, and a heavy blow to a cheese still recovering from a cancer scare due to high levels of dioxin found at several dairy farms outside Naples back in 2008.  According to the National Post, Italy’s Agriculture Ministry has ordered the supervision of producing the cheese for the next three months to ensure requirements are met and no contamination occurs.

Buffalo mozzarella is produced throughout Italy, however, the Italian city of Aversa, Caserta is recognized as the origin of this prized cheese.   Italy produces around 33,000 tonnes ($430 million dollars worth)  of its trademark mozzarella from buffalo milk every year, with 16 percent sold abroad, mostly in the European Union. France and Germany are the main importers but sales have been expanding in Japan and Russia. This recent scandal could irreparably damage the industry and the Campania region.

Read more about this breaking story at the National Post.

Story reported by Ella Ide, Reuters

Photo source: tripadvisor.com

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Mild and wild selections at Zingerman’s Roadhouse

One of my favorite places to eat in Ann Arbor is Zingerman’s Roadhouse on Jackson Avenue. Part of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, the Roadhouse cooks up amazing down-home goodness and even encourages customers to “try it before you buy it” by offering samples of menu items. Co-owners Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw bring in the highest quality of ingredients from around the country and the food is all the better for it.

Terry is my favorite waiter at Zingerman’s.  His love of cheese rivals mine and he always has the perfect suggestions. Looking for some lighter selections than I am use to (as you may have guessed, I love the pungent, stinky stuff) I wanted to see how the mild side tasted. Terry’s first recommendation was Creamery Great Lakes Cheshire. This is the only American-made Cheshire to date and like its UK brother, this cheese has a hard crumbly texture that becomes smooth on the tongue with a subtle, grassy flavor.  A bit of an acidic bite (most likely from the animal rennet) but by no means unpleasant.  Next came a Quebec Chevre Noir (center) and is the only Canadian cheese Zingerman’s sells.  This award-winning cheese has a  firm, dense and flaky in texture yet melts in your mouth with a nutty, herb-like essence.  Finally, a 3-year-old Asiago (top right) was a surprise. Usually aged for a year, I expected this Asiago to be sharp and intense.  Surprisingly, I found it to be smooth, sweet, and even on the palate.

All three cheeses were wonderful, but if I had to pick a favorite I would say it was the chevre. Next time you find yourself in Ann Arbor, check out Zingerman’s Roadhouse and ask for Terry. Tell him Robin sent you!

The grapes pictured are oven roasted with a balsamic vinegar toss. Amazing and easy to make. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, toss grapes lightly in balsamic vinegar, roast for 10 minutes and enjoy. These sweet and savory treats pair with both intense and mild cheeses.

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Ticklemore no laughing matter!

I was a pretty ticklish kid. So ticklish, my mother would just have to say “Tickle Tickle Tickle” in my general direction and I would be on the floor, rolling with laughter.  To be honest, it was agony and I have since learned to turn off my tickle button.  After tasting this rare treat, I may have to turn it back on!

Ticklemore cheese was originally made at Ticklemore Dairy by Robin Congdon, Ticklemore is now produced at Sharpham Creamery by Debbie Mumford (Debbie trained under Robin before taking over the cheesemaking).  This unique cheese is  made from vegetarian full-fat, pasteurised, goat’s milk and hand molded in small baskets and turned twice weekly during its three-month maturing phase. The rind retains the shape of the basket which has been described as having a UFO appearance.  While cold, Ticklemore has a flaky, pillow-y texture that “tickles” the tongue with light aromatic flavors.  As the cheese becomes room temperature, the airy bubbles and flaky texture become soft slightly runny.  The Camembert flavors from the rind are more pronounced and assertive as well.

I am more partial to the taste at room temp yet I can see the appeal of the airy texture. The grapes balanced out the flavor even more.

Ticklemore is difficult to find and the price reflects its rare status.  At $40.00 per lb. I don’t see purchasing large quantities anytime soon.  It is a cheese I would recommend trying (in small amounts) at least once, if you can find it.

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One woman’s fromage finds for 2009

As a self-proclaimed trivia geek, lists are like candy to me.  Top Ten’s, Best Of’s, and Most Interesting Finds can keep me transfixed to the internet for hours.  Seems only natural that I would seek out lists which consisted of cheese!

Janet Fletcher, author of  “Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing, and Enjoying” and “The Cheese Course”  as well as contributor to The San Francisco Chronicle, has issued her list of diverse and intriguing cheese tastings of 2009.  I can hardly wait to head out to my local cheesemonger and sample some of her suggestions!  Out of the many cheeses named, I am surprised to have only sampled two.  The first,  Beecher’s Flagship Reserve (shown above) from Seattle,  was this year’s winner of the American Cheese Society’s Mature Cheddars, 25 – 48 months. The second,   L’Amuse Gouda from Holland, is a nutty, salty, caramel-y creation which matures in mild temperatures (unlike most Gouda which matures in cool environments).  Both were wonderful in their own right although I want to take a second taste before passing further judgment.

Check out Ms. Fletcher’s article at the link below and feel free to send any other cheesy list suggestions my way at thehousemouse1@gmail.com!

Image: Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

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Eat Cheese and Lose the Fat!

How totally cool is this?  According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who eat full fat cheese gain less weight than those who abstained from dairy.  I cannot tell all of you how happy this makes me.  As most of us Fat Cats do each January, I have made my resolution to work out more, eat right, and exercise. I figured this meant saying bye bye to my beloved ricotta from Morgan and York (my guilty pleasure at the moment).  Nay nay, I say! Bring on the fromage!!!!!

source: Healthkicker

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Happy New Year

Wishing you all a cheesy new year!

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The Elusive Bishop

This stinky, funky, pungent, and amazingly tasty cheese is my White Whale. I had my first taste of Stinking Bishop two years ago at the Whole Foods in Ann Arbor. The aroma was a mixture of wet dog and athletic shoes after a 10K. Not for the faint of stomach, to be sure. Then I took a bite and just lapsed into silence (a feat nearly impossible as those who know me can attest). I was in heaven! This aggressive yet smooth cheese had a powerful and earthy flavor that just wafted through my mouth. I know strong-smelling cheese isn’t most people’s idea of awesome, but I could eat a whole 5lb wheel of this stuff without so much as a soda cracker. Stinking Bishop was by far the strongest cheese I had tasted and it soared to the top of my list of must -haves. And then it was gone.

Stinking Bishop rose to popularity after it was used to revive the main character in the movie Wallace and Gromit Curse of the Wererabbit. Demand grew 500% within a month. Unfortunately, this unctuous treasure has a limited production of only 20 tons a year (that’s less than half the normal production of most artisan cheeses). With such high demand, Stinking Bishop vanished from cheesemongers’ cases.

It has been a year and a half since I tasted my elusive delicacy. Requests at my local Whole Foods are met with a sad shake of the head or pathetic shrug of shoulders. I could order it online, but I fear the unknown distributor. Some dishonest shyster who tries to pass off Epoisse as my aromatic Bishop. And so I search in hope if one day procuring that creamy, stinky gold once more.

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