It’s like TED Talks for cheese nerds! Kate over at Culture Magazine shares this rather awesome resource from the Science of Artisan Cheese conference that took place in the UK in September of 2012. Neal’s Yard Dairy has just posted a whole bunch of videos on YouTube, featuring presentations from luminaries of the cheese, science and culinary worlds. Some great stuff here. Check out the videos below or on the Neal’ Yard site:
SCIENCE & MODERN ARTISAN FOODS
Presented by Harold McGee
RAW MILK MICROBIAL BIODIVERSITY & ITS INFLUENCES
Presented by Dr Marie-Christine Montel, Director of the Cheese Research Laboratory
at the INRA Research Centre in Clermont-Ferrand, France
MICROBIAL DIVERSITY & INTERACTIONS
Presented by Dr Rachell Dutton & Dr Ben Wolfe of Harvard University, USA
ACHIEVING CONTROL OF LISTERIA DURING ARTISAN CHEESE PRODUCTION
Presented by Dr Cathy Donnelly, Co-Director of the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese
RAPID DETECTION OF VIABLE MYCROBACTERIA IN RAW MILK
Presented by Dr Cath Rees, Associate Professor in Microbiology in the Food Microbiology Group
at University of Nottingham, UK
RISK PERCEPTION & CATEGORISATION :: ARTISANSHIP IN THE 21st CENTURY
Presented by Prof Heather Paxson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
QUALITY & CONTROL
Presented by Ivan Larcher (Larcher Consulting, France), Randolph Hodgson (Neal’s Yard Dairy, UK) & Mateo Kehler (Jasper Hill Farm, USA)
NEW TOOLS FOR CHEESEMAKERS
Presented by Dr Mansel Griffiths of the University of Guelph, Canada
Via the UK site TheGrocer.co.uk:
First American craft brewers set out to win over UK consumers. Now artisanal US cheesemakers are launching a charm offensive.
Only a small amount of US artisanal cheese is currently exported to the UK, but this week the Artisan Cheese Exchange - a US marketing company - brought four cheesemakers to the UK to showcase 16 cheeses to leading UK cheese retailers including Neal’s Yard dairy, Paxton & Whitfield and La Fromagerie. The ACE is also main sponsor of this week’s 2012 World Cheese Awards.
Paxton & Whitfield met with the ACE this week with a view to permanently listing some of its cheeses next year. Interest in artisanal cheesemaking had exploded in the US in the same way it had in the UK 20 years ago, said MD Ros Windsor.
“I’m keen to get some over and start showing them to our customers,” she said, adding that it was important to challenge perceptions that it was “just plastic cheeses that they do over there”.
Neal’s Yard Dairy currently stocks Uplands Cheese’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve as well as Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue. The company was also considering selling cheese from Vermont producer The Cellars at Jasper Hill, said manager for buying and quality, Bronwen Percival. “More and more US cheeses are world class,” she said. “They really hold their own against European cheeses.”
Read the full story.
(Photo ©2012 TheGrocer.co.uk)
Steve Jenkins, author of the The Cheese Primer (for a long time the gold standard of cheese books in the US), comes out in defense of Cracker Barrel cheese. Yes, you read that right, Cracker Barrel cheese.
Steven Jenkins, author of “Cheese Primer,” was visiting his mother on the coast of Alabama recently when he discovered a package of Cracker Barrel Cheddar in her refrigerator.
Mr. Jenkins, a cheesemonger at Fairway Market who helped foster the artisanal cheese movement nationally, had never tried the brand, which is made by the Kraft Foods Group, best known for mild, child-friendly processed cheese products like Velveeta and Kraft Singles.
“It would have been a month of Sundays before I ever got myself in front of a chunk of Kraft Cracker Barrel,” said Mr. Jenkins.
Dubious, yet curious, he cut off a slice. “I was expecting it to be a waxy, sort of burned tasting, greasy, not very good Cheddar,” Mr. Jenkins said. “But what I tasted was a perfect piece of American idiom Cheddar.” With mock horror, Mr. Jenkins added, “I’m a traitor to my cause.”
Now Cracker Barrel, which has not advertised on television in more than a decade, is about to introduce an advertising campaign that hopes to persuade consumers who, like Mr. Jenkins, may have underestimated its offerings.
New advertisements highlight cheese competition awards that the brand has won, most notably first place honors for the best sharp Cheddar (aged six months to one year) category at the 2012 World Champion Cheese Contest, a biennial international competition held in Madison, Wis.One commercial opens on a cheese competition, in which judges (depicted by actors) in yellow blazers examine the entries meticulously, with a judge who is wearing a bow tie studying a wedge with a magnifying glass and another wearing an ascot chewing a piece like a rabbit.
“Connoisseurs of flavor, experts in aroma — they’re the world championship cheese judges,” says a voice-over. “And while they might seem kind of odd to you, like this guy” — a judge with two thermometers inserted into a wheel of cheese writes down its temperature — “we just love them.”
Not that Cracker Barrel has a chip on their shoulder or anything:
“We have won these awards and beaten these snooty cheeses, yet we’re in the dairy case and accessible for anyone to buy,” [Gwen Gray, senior director of dairy snacking at Kraft] said. The suggested retail price for all of the more than a dozen Cracker Barrel varieties, nearly all of them Cheddars, is $4.
Color me skeptical. I’m sure the cheese tastes good, for what it is, but there’s more than just flavor and aroma that goes into why it’s important to support artisanal, farmstead and small-scale cheese makers. Cracker Barrel can charge $4/Lb because it’s buying milk in astronomical quantities from CAFO dairy farms and producing it in massive factory production settings. Make no mistake, this isn’t like Cabot working with Jasper Hill to produce the Cabot Clothbound. Cabot has a long track record of supporting Vermont dairy farmers and doing good by the local community and has proven itself genuinely interested in working with master affineurs to produce a quality cheese. Whether the same holds true of Cracker Barrel remains to be seen.
Read the full piece here.
(photo ©2012 NYT and Cracker Barrel)
In the Burlington Free Press, Skye Chalmers, the photographer behind the new book “Sending Milk: The Northeast Farms and Farmers of the Cabot Creamery Cooperative”, talk about the 3-year project, which features images of the New England farmers, their families, and the animals that make up the Cabot Creamery Cooperative and supply Cabot with the milk for all of their cheeses. If you’ve ever wondered where the milk for your Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound comes from, check it out:
The Faces And Places That Send Milk
Farmers are citizens deeply entrenched in their communities, providing not only food but also livelihoods to many: photographers, veterinarians, equipment dealers, truckers, factory workers, CFOs, CEOs and more.
It is my ambition that Sending Milk inspires people to learn more about the rich history of dairy farms and to further appreciate our farms omnipresent value throughout all our communities in the Northeast. Meet a farmer, know your farmer, support your farmers on all levels. As the saying goes, “no farms, no food,” but also, no sports, no vacations, no computers, no views — no Vermont!
As the dedication of the book reads, “Sending Milk is dedicated to the oldest tractor on the farm that once plowed the fields and still runs strong pumping slurry; to the cows with all their warmth and curiosity; to all the worn stanchions, concrete bunkers, shovel handles, boots, and hands; to the seasons of promise, bounty, and reflection; to the past stewards of the land; to the farmers that were not able to persevere through hard times but haven’t dismantled their parlor in hopes of a future herd; to all dairy farmers of the northeast with their practical views, their ingenuity, and tireless energy that binds our communities.”
(Photos ©2012 Skye Chalmers and 3x120 Press)
A Welsh farmstead (Caerphilly) style raw cows milk natural rinded tomme, with a firm, flaky, lightly eyed paste. With a lightly citric aroma, in flavor it is buttery, tangy, grassy, nutty and mild with just a little bit of sharpness and bite at the end. An absolutely magnificent melter and frequently spotted sandwiched between crackling bread at grilled cheese joints around town.
The San Francisco Chronicle has nice profile on Doug and Jenny Erb, the makers of Landaff, and how they came to produce this Caerphilly-style cheese. I love how the name of their hometown was the initial inspiration for their cheesemaking journey:
They knew that their town, Landaff, was named after a Welsh village, so Debby did some online digging to determine what cheeses might be typical in that part of the world.
A fine one, as it happens. Caerphilly, now made primarily in England, originated in South Wales, in the vicinity of Llandaff (the Welsh spelling).
The Erbs settled on Caerphilly as their model, and Doug went to England to work with Chris Duckett, the acknowledged master of artisan Caerphilly, and his disciple Jemima Cordle. Erb says that they shared all their procedures with him, and that the cheese he makes now - christened Landaff - follows their recipe. He can’t get the same starter culture, but his methods are otherwise the same.
Rumor has it the Erbs are now working on a Tomme Crayeuse style cheese as well, stay tuned.
Purchased at Beechers NY.
Via summercellars, an interesting video of Jasper Hill’s Mateo Kehler, discussing the cheesemaking process at JH and in general. I was particularly interested by his take on cheesemaking as “Art” vs “Craft” (he thinks of it as the latter). I think this struck me because it parallels a debate that often occurs in Interactive Design (and probably all applied creative fields, whether it be graphic design, industrial design, woodworking, etc.) between those who think of the design process as artistic vs those who think of it more as a craft, more akin to architecture than to fine art, a process that, while creative and potentially experimental, must in the end occur within strictly defined parameters and with controlled outcomes.
Mateo explains how to make cheese - and in the beginning they are discussing the new digital chemical analyzation tools that both Mateo and Herve use to carefully monitor their milk. Watch all the way until the end to find out why Farmstead cheese tastes better!
Interesting piece in the NYTimes about the art (or artifice?) of Affinage. I had no idea there were sides in this battle — or that there was a battle at all — but apparently there are some cheese heavy hitters who question the value of Affinage, Steve Jenkins, author of Cheese Primer (the first cheese book I ever bought, back in 1998) fame and one of the godfathers of the NYC cheese scene, being the most notable.
“This affinage thing is a total crock,” said Mr. Jenkins, the cheese monger at Fairway and the author of the pivotal 1996 book “Cheese Primer.” “All it does is drastically inflate the cost of cheeses that have benefited zero from this faux-alchemical nonsense.”
Mr. Jenkins, a New York retail pioneer, argues that affinage is ultimately about marketplace savvy. Long ago in places like France and Belgium, the affineur first stepped in to extract profits by acting as the middleman.
“It has nothing to do with making cheese taste really good,” he said. “It has to do with getting paid. And it’s morphed into a typical ‘French things are cool’ thing that Americans have bought hook, line and sinker. They all think, ‘I can even turn this into a marketing tool, so people will see how devoted I am to my craft.’ ”
Given the importance of aging to the end product, though, it’s rather hard to believe that he can be so dismissive of Affinage in general. As the Jasper Hill folks point out:
“The fact of the matter is that a cheese that isn’t properly ripened doesn’t have any value,” Mateo Kehler said in a telephone interview. “It doesn’t become cheese until it’s ripened.”
or Terrance Brennan:
“Affinage is the recipe,” said Terrance Brennan, the chef and restaurateur, whose Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro is arguably the most cheese-centric dining spot in Manhattan. “It’s what makes the cheese. It’s what develops the flavor and texture.” As for those who claim it is bogus, he said, “They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
That being said, I have had some cheeses that had been affinaged at the cheese shops (which shall remain unnamed) where I purchased them and were…less than impressive, so there’s no denying that there is an art and science to the process that might suffer due to people jumping into the affinage game without the proper experience or facilities.
“Les fromages americains aussi bon que les fromages francais?” Translation: “American cheeses as good as French cheeses?” That’s the question posed in this clip from a French TV news show, and if you picked up a little skepticism in that query, you’re probably right. That being, said the tasters seem impressed, and surprised, by the assortment of Vermont cheeses crossing their plates, including some of the bark-wrapped marvels and Bayley Hazen blue from Jasper Hill. Impressing the French with your cheese is kind of like wowing Rafael Nadal with your wicked serve, so score one for the Yanks!