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
Upland’s Experiment photo by The House Mouse
Cheese lovers nationwide were devastated when cheesemaker Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese Company decided to stop making his famous Rush Creek Reserve indefinitely. The spruce-wrapped, raw-milk cheese was the nearest we Americans had to the coveted French-style Mont d’Or and the thought of not having it on our holiday cheese boards was heartbreaking. When asked if he had anything else new in his cheese caves to make up for this terrible loss, Hatch’s stock answer has always been that he is experimenting with something new. After two years, the experiment seems to have paid off, even if it is in limited time. Presented in extremely limited quantities: Upland’s Experiment. Continue reading
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
Books have always been a huge part of my life – my parents encouraging my reading with trips to the library and bookstore on a weekly basis. I’ll never forget the time my mom got an angry call from my fourth grade teacher complaining about my refusal to participate in recess activities in order to sit under a tree with my new copy of I, Trissy by Norma Fox Mazer. My mother didn’t even respond. She just hung up the phone, came right up to the school (only four blocks away), sat down under the tree with me with her own book, glared up at the teacher and then proceeded to read right along with me. I thought my teacher was going to spit nails, but she just crossed her arms and stomped off. A great memory for sure, and yet another reason books have always been one of my favorite gifts to receive. Cheese books have become a particular passion now that I’m older and can appreciate them, and this year’s batch of fromage reads is pretty snazzy. I will admit to only owning one on my list of book gifts so should anyone wish to play secret cheesy Santa.
Okay, here we go for Cheesy Gift Guide Part 2 – Books:
A quick note: all titles are available on both amazon.com and bn.com, however I encourage everyone to seek out local bookstores or click on the links to the websites and purchase directly from the author or the link. Shop local and support the community. If you want to buy big box and use a discount, head out to your local Barnes & Noble brick and mortar and save a job like mine. Alright, preaching done. Here we go!
Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese Company
Holiday meals can be very stressful, especially for those who have yet to master even the most basic of cooking skills. It would stand to reason that going to someone else’s home and having them do the cooking would be less of a burden, but then comes the age-old question of what to bring. The usual answer when asked is “Oh, nothing. Maybe a bottle of wine or a side, but we’re good. Thanks.” While I appreciate not having to enter Kitchen Stadium, which is what occurs in my boyfriend’s family kitchen every holiday, I still want to contribute to the meal. Thus begins the painstaking task of putting together a cheese board that will stand up to three kinds of turkey (smoked, roasted and confit) and side dishes fit for the cover of Food and Wine Magazine. Continue reading
Happy National Cheese Lovers Day! Last year, The Mouse was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a holiday just for fromagephiles to pay homage to the blessed curd. A full twenty-four hours to bask in the glow of some Basque or any cheese of choice. So, what’s a cheese lover to do when upon opening the refrigerator door on National Cheese Lovers Day and finds that the cheese safe is bare? Fear not, for The Mouse has a brief list of shops to help restock for the celebration. Continue reading
Harbison cheese with hand forged spoon from Beekman 1802
Making friends with your local cheesemongers has many advantages – one of which is getting the heads-up whenever a new wheel rolls into the shop. Lucky for this Mouse, I have managed to become pretty buddy-buddy with the mongers at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Shawn and his crew are good for a call, and a few weeks ago, my phone range with exciting news of a new cheese from Jasper Hill Farm called Harbison. Knowing that anything from the folks at Jasper promises to be good eats, I headed over to Kerrytown to get a taste.
At first glance, I was a bit disappointed. It appeared to be just another spruce-bark-wrapped cheese similar to last year’s star fromage, which was also a spruce-bound cow’s milk creation called Rush Creek Reserve from Andy Hatch at the award-winning Upland Cheese Company. Could the Kehler brothers from Vermont really compete… or offer something different? The monger behind the counter told me to reserve my judgment until I tried it. Once again, my trust was not misplaced, as any initial disappointment vanished once I cracked open this earthy wheel of goodness.
Unlike the raw-milk wonder that is Rush Creek, Harbison is made with pasteurized cow milk, and the two-third of a pound wheel is aged a mere three to six weeks. Its intense aroma of wet leaves, fresh earth and mushrooms is a pleasant contrast to the sweet, beefy flavor with a hint of smoke. While spoonable, Harbison’s paste is a bit firmer than Rush Creek, yet it still has similar versatility, responding well to both table service and cooking (it’s a particularly rich and tasty treat when mixed in with boiled redskin potatoes).
Whether entertaining or just relaxing with the family, this is a great cheese to have on-hand this holiday season. I actually had both Harbison and Rush Creek on our board for Thanksgiving. They complemented one another quite well and we all gave thanks to the blessed cheesemongers in our lives.
For more on Harbison, check out the video below.