Happy Valentine’s Day from The House Mouse! When I tell someone I write about cheese, the inevitable question arises “What’s your favorite cheese?” and I can never name just one. My love for cheese, with all the varying milks, textures, seasonal options, really depends on my mood. Am I a fair-weather-fromage-lover? Oh, no. My love is so big and so deep, I would have to say that I love them all, in their own way. So, this Valentine’s Day, I say to all the cheeses, all over the world. I love you with all my heart. Stay cheesy, my dearest ones. Until we meet again…
Marcella Wright: The Cheese Lady’ Calls The House Mouse a Cheese Professional so it Must Be True…
Alright, so maybe not so much a professional, but I’ll take what I can get.
Marcella Wright and I started writing about cheese about a year before I did, in 2008 and once we discovered each other (thanks to the wonders of the internet) we became instant fromage friends. Having so much in common; our mutual love of all things cheese, we were and still are completely mad about our cats, we dig classic cars (I’m more into vintage, she likes the muscle), and we absolutely adore our hubbys. With all this in common along with all the travel we each have done, its crazy that we still have never actually met face to face. What is also crazy, while my humble House Mouse blog continues to attempt to find its footing, Marcella’s has not only grown, she’s turned it into a full-fledged website and become a staple in the cheese society, both figuratively and literally. Marcella is a long-standing member of the American Cheese Society and, as of 2013, a Certified Cheese Professional having passed the three-hour, 150-question exam that tests cheese knowledge in many areas from ingredients to cheesemaking to importing/exporting, maintaining quality, food safety, selling and serving cheese. Just a consumer and enthusiast like me when she started out, Marcella went on to work as a cheesemonger, trainer, and supervisor for Murray’s Cheese and opened over 50 of their Kroger locations around the country. I have learned so much over the years from Marcella through her writing and through email and social media conversations, which is why I am honored and humbled to be on her Cheese Professionals of 2015 list. Check out the post below and make sure to sign up to be notified about other posts highlighting some pretty spectacular (and probably more deserving) Cheese Peeps!
Marcella the Cheesemonger
Here’s a picture of The Lady and The Late Spaulding Grey. Her inspiration for her former blog. We all miss this furry guy’s wit and wonderful palate. Stay Cheesy!
The Lady and Spaulding: photo courtesy of Marcella, the Cheesemonger
Over the past five years, I have written about cheese from the point of view of a cheese lover and enthusiast, wanting to spread the love of cheese far and wide. My story, while quirky isn’t new; child grows up loving cheese, only eats cheese, discovers there is more to food than cheese, still decides to write about mostly cheese. I have met some incredible folks over the years who I consider rock stars of the cheese world. People like Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s Deli and one of the most motivating speakers I have ever heard. Maitre Fromager and author Max McCalman; his books are my fromage bibles. James Beard Award-winning author Laura Werlin who sat next to me in a restaurant in North Carolina and it was awesome and I totally embarrassed myself by telling her so. Co-founder of Culture Magazine, Kate Arding, who recently opened her own shop called Talbot & Arding in Hudson, New York. Kate may be one of the most influential people I have ever met and she probably doesn’t even know it. Early on, when I began writing The House Mouse, Kate actually read my blog, commented from time to time and encouraged me to keep writing, even when I doubted myself and wanted to quit. There are so many others I have met, fellow bloggers, cheesemakers, etc. and after all this time, I realize something…I feel like I still don’t know much more than when I started about cheese. I mean, I know some basics, but after five years I feel I should at least have made my first batch of ricotta or be able to explain animal and vegetable rennet better. Nope. My fermentation education when it comes to cheese gets a C plus at best. So, The House Mouse New Years Resolution…a cheesy education. At least a better, more structured one. Now all I need is to know where to start. This is my question to my cheese peeps out there. I would love some guidance, suggestions, anything as to where I might begin. I have some books (see above) and I am already an American Cheese Society member, but there are no monger jobs in the area (a common suggestion) so any other suggestions would be great.
I’m looking forward to an enlightening new year full of fabulous fromage and fun factoids. Feel free to comment anytime and remember to Stay Cheesy!
The House Mouse
Cheese Prints by Mike Geno: Photograph taken by The House Mouse
With the holidays fast approaching, it may seem like a cheese plate, markers, or set of knives would be the obvious choice for the turophile on your gift list. While these tokens are nice and can be thoughtful, they tend to get a bit overdone and can be a bit obvious. Let’s face it – while these cheesy gifts are appreciated, more often than not, they end up being shoved into a drawer only to be brought out on special occasions… like next Christmas. How about giving a fromage find that will be front and center all year long… something like cheese art? Where does one find such a thing? Artist Mike Geno can help.
St Sauveur des Basques
Every once in a while my cheesemonger at Plum Market in West Bloomfield, Michigan manages confound me with a mystery cheese that really blows my mind with fabulous flavor yet little information. Recently, she recommended a new little washed-rind square of sheeps milk called St Sauveur des Basques from Agour Fromages. I’m pretty good when it comes to finding information about cheese, but this one really had me stumped. All I could manage to learn on my own was from the Epicure Foods website;
“St Sauveur des Basques is a very unique soft ripened cheese made with sheep’s milk and packed in a very nice square wooden box. The St Sauveur cheese was the first cheese Agour produced in their new facility on the Iraty road to the mountains.”
This tiny bit of information and that the price point was a whopping $42.99 a square (my sample was considerably less at $12.99, yet is sadly out of stock) wasn’t enough to satisfy my curiosity. So I called up Murray’s Cheese in New York City and spoke with Affineur (Cave Master), Brian Ralph find out more about this funky French fromage. Continue reading
When I found out I would be taking my first trip to Paris, I was excited and a bit nervous. Sure, there would be all the amazing cheese, bread, pastries, and chocolates to try, but Paris is big. REALLY big. For someone with crowd issues (which I have) this can be a terrifying experience. I talked with a few of my francophile friends and they assured me that, unlike New York or Chicago where the streets are jam-packed with people all the time, Paris feels busy, but not suffocating. This was a good thing since I enjoy exploring new places. Once I settled into my hotel, I set off with my list of fromageries from cheese connoisseur Susan Sturman, Rick Steve’s Paris 2014 guidebook & Streetwise Paris map in hand, and immediately got lost. Seriously. This was actually a good thing since my getting lost lead me to my first fromagerie, Cheese.
Disney’s Pixar Ratatouille
That’s right! The House Mouse is heading to Paris to taste the delectable fromage of France (and see the sights, of course.) I’ve packed my copy of “The Whole Fromage” by Kathe Lison and my list of suggested cheese shops, courtesy of Susan Sturman, Director Anglophone Programs for Academie Opus Caseus (the cheese industry’s unique hands-on center for professional development), I almost feel ready to go.
Charles de Gaulle is famously rumored to have said “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”, yet according to The Cheese Times, there are upwards of 629 different cheese types in France. There is no way this little mouse will be able to nibble through even a fraction of those fromages in just a few days. While I love a good Banon, Brie and Camembert, I think it would be wise to seek out the cheeses which are unavailable to us Americans; especially some raw milk selections.
Stay tuned for photos from Paris and feel free to send along any suggestions of French cheese for The Mouse to seek out!
Au Revoir for now and Restez au Fromage!
Rush Creek Reserve and Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese
The rumors are true. Start looking for alternatives for the holiday cheeseboard this year since Uplands Cheese will no longer be producing wheels of fromage favorite, Rush Creek Reserve. Cheesemaker Andy Hatch confirmed today that, due to the FDA’s recent regulations regarding wood-board storage and threat of unknown future interference with raw-milk cheese production, it was too high a risk to produce the wonderful wheels only to chance them being pulled from the market. Hatch, as most in the cheese world knows, is a perfectionist at his craft, and to dedicate so much care, attention, and love to a product only to have it go to waste was not an option, so the decision was made to not even begin the process. Uplands Cheese will still have Pleasant Ridge Reserve available for us turophiles to enjoy and Hatch is working on a new cheese, yet it is still in the creative stages. Let’s all hope, pray, keep our fingers crossed, maybe even make a wish to the cheese gods/goddesses that this FDA crisis will pass and we will all be able to enjoy the beefy, buttery, heaven of Rush Creek Reserve for the 2015 season. Until then, let’s support Uplands Cheese and have a wedge of Pleasant Ridge on our boards this holiday. I know I will.
Stay cheesy everyone.
Andy Hatch with Pleasant Ridge Reserve
Ever wonder how cheese came to be cheese? A happy accident of science (plus an extended camel trek), of course!
Seven Styles of Cheese from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
Joe Hanson, host of the PBS Digital Studio web series and popular blog “It’s Okay to be Smart”, wanted to learn more about the Cheesy Science of fromage so he stopped by for a visit at Antonelli’s Cheese in Austin, TX. Cheesemonger, Kara Chadbourne was a good sport to put up with the cheese puns as she schooled Hanson on the chemistry of enzymes and molds which help turn milk into cheese. Check out the video above and to learn more fun science facts, be sure to subscribe to “It’s Okay to be Smart” on YouTube and Hanson’s blog here.
5th Annual Cheesemonger Invitational
Fifty of the best cheesemongers will be battling it out this Sunday in Long Island City, New York to see who really is a cut above the rest at the 5th Annual Cheesemonger Invitational.
This culinary thunderdome is the brainchild of Adam Moskowitz, CEO of Larkin Cold Storage, one of the largest cheese importers in the country and son of the man who brought cave-aged Gruyère to the United States. What began as an excuse to party, Moskowitz has PR’d into a substantial following and has, from what I understand, considered even expanding to twice a year! So what, exactly, happens at a Cheesemonger Invitational besides an abundance of fromage being cut?
Mongers really need to know their stuff, including how to be a charming cheese seller, have their taste buds and olfactory skills on point, be creative with the amuse, wrap like a star, and this year, artisanal isn’t only for the cheese. Mongers will be critiquing each other’s signs as well. It all sounds like a cheese lover’s paradise and for those with $75.00 and a Sunday in New York, it can be theirs to enjoy. Check out all the information below and if you do attend and take pictures, be sure to post some pictures too! May the best monger win!
Cheesemonger Invitational Stay cheesy!