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
Not all stinky cheeses are created equal. Some are overtly funky from smell to taste. Others smell intense yet have a delicious mild flavor. Hard and crumbly or soft and runny, I love them all. That being said, not all fumigating fromages are created equal. Here is the first of what I hope to be many compare and contrast tastings.
On the platter are two intense cheeses sure to please even the most timid taster. The first is a Swiss cheese called Chue Fladae (translates to “cow patty). Raw cow’s milk and a thick pastry-like washed rind, the aroma can be off-putting at the very least and just unbearable as it gets to room temperature. Continue reading
Despite the recent articles touting greater weight loss from eating whole milk cheeses, indulging in favorites like Camembert (11.6 grams of fat per oz) or a schmeer of cream cheese on a bagel (10 grams of fat per oz) can potentially pack on the pounds. Take heart, fellow cheese lovers, for I have found a tasty cheese that contains…wait for it…ZERO grams of fat yet has full fat taste! Fromage blanc is a French-style cheese similar to creme fraiche or yogurt in texture with the tang of sour cream. While relatively common in France, it may be more difficult to obtain in the US. Check the local Whole Foods or gourmet market dairy sections. Be sure to buy it with the intent of immediate use as it does go bad rather quickly and at $4 for 8oz, it isn’t cheap. Continue reading
Someday I hope to eat my way through all the delicious and diverse cheeses of France. Preferably I will do this in France, but for now I must settle for my local cheesemongers to guide me. I am lucky to have several experienced mongers and the ones at Morgan and York in Ann Arbor, Michigan are some of the best.
On my most recent visit I had a chance to sample Saint Felicien, a soft subtle cheese from the Rhône-Alpes region (also known as caille-doux) and was pleasantly surprised.
Presented in a stone crock with a pale yellow rind, Saint Felicien hides a nutty, pillowy, slightly pungent flavor that is not normally found in a raw cow’s milk cheese. Best served with berries and sweet nuts. Avoid citrus and sour fruits (I made the mistake of tasting with Granny Smith apples. Trust me, just say no!)
I have heard this cheese is similar to Saint Marcellin however I have yet to taste it and cannot say for sure. It is on the French cheese tour so I am sure I will get to it soon. In the meantime, I have a little crock of goodness to satisfy me…for about five more minutes when it will be all gone! Bon Appetit!
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
Ypsilanti, Michigan gets kinda a bum rap. Referred to as the “Brooklyn” to Ann Arbor’s more affluent “Manhattan,” Ypsi (as it is commonly called) has a small population ranging from artsy hipsters to “Ypsitucky” country folk. I personally like Ypsi, especially the historic downtown area and Depot Town. The Mayberry-small-town feel, local color, spectacular architecture, and artistic flair makes Ypsi a fun and funky place to hang out.
No surprise that Michigan’s own Zingerman’s created a cheese to honor this tiny yet spry town. The Little Ypsi is Zingerman’s newest crottin. What’s a crottin? Historically, a crottin is a small round of pasturized goat’s cheese that starts off light and tangy while young, then hardens and becomes stronger and gamier with age.
The Little Ypsi I tasted was in its mid stage with a bit of a hard, yellow rind and cream cheese-like texture underneath. I really liked the fresh, salty flavor with a bit of a nutty zing (no pun intended) as it warms to room temperature. Granny Smith apple slices add the perfect balance of tart and sweet on the palate.
Available at Zingerman’s Creamery online or at the store location in Ann Arbor, I recommend giving both The Little Ypsi and its namesake town a visit.
Photo source: Flickr
Just a quick note to let everyone know about the new episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on cable’s Food Network. It’s all about cheese! Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli talks about a cheese souffle made at La Goulue Bal Harbour in Bal Harbour. Florida that looks just sinful. I just want to hop a plane south right now! Tune in January 19th at 9:30 or check local listings repeat showings. Tune in and let me know which one you think looks the best!
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.
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!!!!!
Wishing you all a cheesy new year!