The Family that Milks Together: A West Coast Farmstead Cheese Plate

By Robin Minkoff
The Family that Milks Together

The popularity of artisan cheeses has helped many Americans create thriving dairy businesses – taste some of our favorites from the West, where Old World techniques and New World innovation gave rise to some of the most heralded and successful cheesemaking families. Mary Keehn began milking goats at home in Humboldt County to provide her family with healthy milk. The heralded result of her experimentation, Humboldt Fog continues to win acclaim and devotees. The story of Ancient Heritage Dairy begins similarly; Paul and Kathy Obringer began raising sheep to provide their children with an alternative to cow’s milk, eventually churning their herd’s output into artisanal cheeses.

Likewise, Cindy Callahan and her son Liam built their prolific sheep creamery, Bellwether Farms, from a small herd intended only for grazing.  Another prodigal West Coast cheese family, Bob and Dean Giacomini, founded Point Reyes Farmstead to make a traditional blue cheese, pulling their four daughters into the business.  Organize a family reunion and taste the terroir of the Pacific coast – from the misty cliffs of Point Reyes to the snow-capped peaks of the Cascades.

Begin with the fresh, tangy notes of Humboldt Fog. Each layer – rind, creamline, and paste each present unique earthy, floral flavors representative of the goats grazing in dewy mountain forests.
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How Do You Like Them Apple Ciders? Your Guide to Pairing Cider & Cheese

By John David Ryan

It’s October in New York which means people are wearing scarves, putting pumpkin in everything, talking about how they wish they were in Vermont, and drinking hard cider. It’s a Northeastern US thing. Or maybe it’s a “we try to be chic like the French” thing. Either way: few things inspire the foodie palate like cider in the fall. But when it comes to pairing hard cider, you might find the task a bit more challenging. There are more obvious differences between a German pilsner and a roasty coffee stout ale than there is between a Normandy brut and Asturian cider. But fear not! Pairing cider and cheese might be easier than you think.

If it grows together, it goes together. In other words: if there’s a region famous for a specific cider and it also makes specific types of cheese, give them a whirl.

Monte Enebro

Let’s start with the classic: a dry, Basque-inspired cider. Millstone’s Farmgate is a traditional, oak barrel fermented cider. This Maryland cidery’s heirloom apples produce a complex juice that is slightly tart and with a floral kick. Pair it with Monte Enebro, a Spanish goat’s milk cheese that’s rubbed in ash and mold giving it a salty exterior punch. (Yes. I just used two fighting metaphors for this pairing.) The inside is firm, acidic, goaty goodness.
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We DO Know Cheese: Murray’s Associates Pass Exam with Flying Curds

Kroger and Murray’s Cheese Associates Named Certified Cheese Professionals

CINCINNATI, September 3, 2014 – The Kroger Company announced today that 13 Kroger associates and 4 Murray’s Cheese associates have been named Certified Cheese Professionals™ by the American Cheese Society.

These Kroger associates have joined the ranks of an elite group of individuals who have passed the Certified Cheese Professional™ Exam. The exam was created by the American Cheese Society to promote the large and comprehensive world of cheeses and encourage food industry professionals to master the knowledge.  Before taking the exam in Sacramento this summer, the associates participated in a rigorous 3-month training course led by Amanda Parker, Director of Kroger Programs at Murray’s Cheese.  Parker has also been tapped to co-chair the American Cheese Society’s annual conference in 2015.

“This is only the third year of this certification program, but it is already bringing the cheese profession to a whole new level,” said Rob Kaufelt, owner and President of Murray’s Cheese.  “After studying everything from milk chemistry to aging techniques to pairing and serving cheeses, these mongers are now even better equipped to educate and delight our customers.”

“We are proud of our associates for working so hard to earn this important recognition, which reflects their commitment to gourmet cheese craft,” said Margaret McClure, Kroger’s vice president of deli/bakery. “Kroger’s unique partnership with Murray’s Cheese continues to inspire our associates to share their passion for cheese with our customers every day.”

Through an exclusive partnership with New York City’s Murray’s Cheese, the Kroger family of stores features more than 140 Murray’s counters in stores from coast-to-coast.  Featuring more than 175 cheeses and specialty goods from all over the world, the Murray’s counters are staffed by associates who have been trained by the Murray’s experts in New York.  For a list of Murray’s in Kroger locations, please visit www.murrayscheese.com/locations.

For more information about ACS CCPs™, please visit www.cheesesociety.org.

 

  • Alicia Ball – Seattle, WA QFC
  • Walshe Birney – New York City Murray’s Cheese
  • Adam Burstein – Scottsdale, AZ Fry’s
  • Iris Busjahn – Seattle, WA QFC
  • Elizabeth Chubbuck – New York City Murray’s Cheese
  • James Danforth – Denver, CO King Soopers
  • Jill Davis – Atlanta, GA Kroger
  • Jeff Johnson – Denver, CO King Soopers
  • Sue Kargl – Louisville, KY Kroger
  • Lauren Lafontaine – Denver, CO King Soopers
  • Tess McNamara – New York City Murray’s Cheese
  • Beth Peterson – Portland, OR Fred Meyer
  • Jessica Reichert – Denver, CO King Soopers
  • Laurel Ross – Seattle, WA Fred Meyer
  • James Stahl – New York City Murray’s Cheese
  • Shannon Strom – Seattle, WA Fred Meyer
  • Kate True – Cincinnati, OH Kroger

 

 

 

Chocolate & Cheese: A Pairing to Please All Your Senses

By Rainer Burrow

“I don’t like to be gratuitous with chocolate.  I like for it to be meaningful.”  Chef Sarah Langan explained her philosophy on cooking with chocolate to a full tent as she and her assistants gracefully whipped up a 3 course cooking demo on a beautiful Vermont summer day.  The theme for the tasting: chocolate and cheese; what 2 things are easier to love?

Chef Langan is the chef and educator at South End Kitchen in Burlington, Vermont.  South End Kitchen is a café located in Burlington Vermont owned by Lake Champlain Chocolates, a chocolate producer that has been in operation on Lake Champlain since 1983.  Lake Champlaign Chocolates is a top- quality producer, and a true gem in the state of Vermont.  The company uses local Vermont products to make their chocolates, doesn’t add preservatives or additives, are committed to sourcing non-GMO ingredients, and are champions of fair trade.  These factors combine to make high-quality chocolates, which are featured in various ways at South End Kitchen.

For the first course, Chef Langan chose to do a very simple chocolate and cheese pairing using Lake Champlain’s Blue Bandana 70% Guatemala Chocolate and Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche.  Both products are beautiful and intricate on their own, married very well on the palate to completely enhance the flavor experience.  The chocolate was chalky, fruity, and initially sweet with a solid acidity.  The Cheese Was acidic and moldy, mild with a great funk presence.  Eating them together brought me back to Ratatouille swirling colors around his head as he is pairing scraps on the yard of his farm.  Together the acidity and mold went down, the fruit notes really shined through, and both products mellowed out a little bit.  It was an excellent pairing and an excellent start to the demo.

As Chef Langan segued into the second course, she introduced a reflection on how we as humans react to the five tastes (sweet sour salty bitter and umami).  She stated “When you can have all 5 tastes in one dish, you will satisfy yourself.  When your palate is missing one, you will crave more.”  It was with this philosophy in mind that she created her second course, a rustic tart consisting of arugula, pancetta crisps, Vermont Creamery’s Cremont, Fig & honey spread, lemon vinaigrette, and a chocolate emulsion all over a tart dough.  With sweet from the fig and honey, salty from the Cremont and pancetta, bitter form the arugula and chocolate, acidity from Cremont and the vinaigrette, and umami from the pancetta, it was perfectly complete.  I felt distinctly happy and satiated after consuming it.

Finally, for the third course (and dessert), Chef Langan severed a Chocolate Chevre Cheesecake.  It was a beautiful conclusion to the cooking demo: woodsy, tangy, fatty, soft, great in acidity, and rich in chocolate.  Of the three courses, this was definitely my favorite, but I have a sweet tooth and I love chocolate.

I left the tasting feeling educated, satiated, and happy to be alive.  There’s nothing better than great cheese and expert culinary execution.  If the food at South End Kitchen is anything like the tasting, it’s definitely worth a visit.

http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.com/

http://southendkitchenvt.com/

http://www.vermontcreamery.com/

 

 

 

 

Turophile Heaven: The Festival of Cheese

by Walshe Birney

 

The American Cheese Society’s 2014 conference in Sacramento was a whirlwind of fantastic panels, networking events, and, for some of us, the CCP exam, a difficult test of all that we’ve learned throughout our years in the cheese business. On the second to last day, these experiences culminated in the Awards Ceremony, where the best American cheesemakers were honored for their outstanding products. As exciting and emotional as the Ceremony was, the real fun occurred on the last day of the conference, the Festival of Cheese. Here, every entry to the Awards Ceremony was available to taste, not just those that won a ribbon.

Stretching as far as the eye can see, the conference hall was filled with towers of Alpine-style cheeses, smorgasbords of oozy bloomy-rinds and mountains of meaty, pungent washed rinds. Entire rows devoted just to flavored cheeses, smoked cheeses, hispanic-style cheeses; the Festival was truly a turophile’s heaven. As a buyer at Murray’s, I am lucky to have the opportunity everyday to try all manner of tremendous cheese from across the globe, but it’s staggering just how many fantastic new and established American cheeses were present, especially when seeing them all in one place. There is no doubt that our domestic industry is robust and healthy, and leading the way globally in innovation and quality.

 

After being presented with a plate and wine glass (everything one needs for a successful cheese tasting), our first stop took us to the Alpine-style table to taste the winner for best-in-show, Spring Brook Farm’s Tarentaise Reserve. Modelled after the Alpine cheeses of eastern France, such as Abondance and Beaufort, Tarentaise has long been a staple on Murray’s counter, and the 2-year extra-aged version is a thing of beauty: a pronounced and lingering sweetness, an underlying current of roasted hazelnuts and brown butter, and satisfying crystallization. Truly a world-class cheese, on par with the best extra-aged Comtes and Gruyeres. Look for a special Tarentaise aged in our caves to hit our counters at the end of August, with a profile between the reserve and the original, exclusive to Murray’s.

After refilling our glasses with some terrific dry cider from Oregon’s Aengus Ciderworks, we visited our own Murray’s award winners, Hudson Flower (our collaboration with Old Chatham Sheepherding Company) and Torus (our collaboration with Vermont Creamery). These cheeses mark our first ribbons at the festival, taking second place in their respective categories. While we’ve long been known for our cave-aging, this marks the first time that affinage-specific collaborations have been honored at the festival. These partnerships with some of our favorite creameries have been very successful, and we can’t wait to roll out more Cavemaster Reserve cheeses soon. And hopefully we’ll have wins for Greensward, our collaboration with Jasper Hill, and Barden Blue, our collaboration with Consider Bardwell, next year!

With the multitude of choices on offer, at this point we started bouncing around from table to table, trying whatever caught our eyes. Some of the best cheese new to me were the amazingly nuanced washed rind goat cheeses from Briar Rose Creamery, and Bleating Heart’s stunningly sheepy tommes and blues. We also had a chance to nibble on goodies from some of my favorite charcuterie purveyors, Olympic Provisions and Fra’mani, whose cured meats provided perfect counterpoints to mountains of dairy products filling the conference hall.

As our stomachs grew full and the conference wound down, I began to reflect on all the amazing experiences our team had at the conference this year. We had our wills and knowledge tested in the CCP exam, learned a tremendous amount from the stellar panels, and had a lot of fun relaxing and hanging out with our colleagues from around the country, but what will stick with me the most is the incredible talent, passion and love that American cheesemakers and retailers have for these amazing products, and the change they are affecting across the American culinary landscape. The Festival of Cheese was the perfect encapsulation of this, and a fitting end to an unbelievably successful American Cheese Society conference. I can’t wait for next year’s in Rhode Island!