This unusual red-rinded wheel is the Tomme de Liebrandt, a collaborative effort between Chef Paul Liebrandt, Chef and Owner at Corton, a restaurant a the forefront of the NYC scene and awarded two Michelin Stars, as well as three stars from the New York Times. Chef Liebrandt was also the subject of an HBO Documentary “A Matter of Taste”.
When Liebrandt told Murray’s he was interested in a St. Nectaire-style tomme that had been washed in Antica Vermouth — a richer and more complex, herb-infused vermouth often consumed on its own rather than as an ingredient in a mixed drink — the Tomme de Liebrandt was born. the Liebrandt is affinaged in the Murray’s caves and sold at their counter as well as appearing on the Corton menu, where it is frequently served with green mango membrillo.
The rind is an adobe red color — thanks in part to the deep red color of the vermouth — with a rough, textured exterior, lightly sticky to the touch. The straw-yellow interior is semi-firm and supple, lightly eyed, softening as it warms. In flavor it is tangy, meaty and fruity, with an earthy, musty quality and hints of wet hay, all classic for a St Nectaire, but there is an added layer of complexity, an herby, rich quality infused by the Antica Vermouth.
Purchased at Murray’s Cheese.
Hummingbird is a delicate disc of Robiola-style cheese from Doe Run Dairy in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Kristian Holbrook is the head cheesemaker at Doe Run Farm —his wife Haesel Charlesworth, manages the fruit and vegetable farming — but Doe Run is the passion project of Urban Outfitter’s founder Dick Haynes, who long had a desire to get into farming and saw an opportunity when the historic Doe Run farm came up for sale just as he was pulling back from the $2 Billion clothing business, first started as a single clothing shop in the 70’s, catering to Pittsburgh’s countercultural crowd. Doe Run is a sustainable, organic farm, with the cows, sheep and goats rotationally grazed on the 700 acres.
The creamery opened just a couple years ago, but the farm is much more than just a cheesemaking operation, with vegetables, horticultural gardens, massive greenhouses growing ornamental flowers, and more. You can read a detailed profile of Haynes and Doe Run at MainlineToday.com. Kristian has a culinary background, and is graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and a former chef at Green Seasons, outside of Pittsburgh.
Like many Robiolas, the Hummingbird is a mixed-milk cheese, made with Jersey cow and East Friesian ewe’s milk. Inspired by the likes of Robiola Bosina and Robiola Due Latte, the wheels are thin, only 3/4” high perhaps, with an elongated oval shape, akin to an oversized bay leaf. The rind is paper thin and pillowy to the touch, pinkish-orange with a white veil of mold and occasional tiny patches of blue. As soon as you cut it open, the ivory paste begins to ooze out of the thin rind, the interior molten at room temperature. The aroma is lightly fungal, with notes of wet hay.
In flavor the Hummingbird is buttery, unctuous and herbaceous, milky-sweet and with a nice salt balance, with subtle but distinct barnyard and lanolin notes on the finish.
I’m a big fan of Robiola’s, so discovering this American-made version is a pleasant surprise. (I probably shouldn’t share this, but you can see my own experiments with a Robiola recipe, which were…not exactly successful, so I appreciate it even more when it’s well-done, as with the Hummingbird).
The Financial Times has a great profile of William Oglethorpe of Kappacassein Dairy, one of the first true modern urban cheesemakers in London (and probably any city, for that matter). This man is my role model! :
Twice a week at 4.30am Bill Oglethorpe leaves his flat in Streatham, London and drives for 50 minutes to an organic farm outside Sevenoaks in Kent. When he arrives the cows have just finished milking. He unloads his squat 20l aluminium churns and pours a little of his fermented milk starter into the bottom of each one. The milk comes straight out of a tank in the milking parlour, through a pipe and into the churn at the temperature it leaves the cow’s body: 30C. Bill fastens on the lids, heaves the churns into the back of the van and heads off to his Kappacasein Dairy in Bermondsey. In just a few hours the milk in the churns will have been transformed into five fat wheels of cheese. Bermondsey Hard Pressed cheese goes from udder to a recognisable cheese in a little over seven hours.
Cheese makers perform a daily alchemy, turning a perishable ingredient – milk – into something durable, storable and dense with protein: cheese. But to be a cheese maker you must rise, like Bill, before dawn to fetch your milk – and not just any milk. The French cheesemonger, Pierre Androuët talks about cheese having a cru, or growth, just like wine. Instead of the quality of the grape, it is the milk that is the first (and possibly the most fundamental) thing a cheese maker must get right.
William Oglethorpe sounds like a very English name, but this cheese maker is a Frenchman raised in Tanzania and Switzerland, where he learnt his craft in the Swiss Alps. The simple way cheese was made there (by heating raw milk) appealed to him, as did the relatively small amount of equipment needed. I join him as he starts work on the first cheese of the day, similar to an Alpine Tomme de Montagne.
(Photos ©2013 Financial Times)
The Guardian features a nice essay by Graham Kirkham of Mrs. Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese, in which he discusses the roots of his cheese knowledge and passion:
The secrets of Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese
Graham Kirkham inherited his artisanal approach from the females in his family
My grandmother, Ruth Townley, made cheese all her life. When she retired, she moved to Beesley Farm and passed her equipment and knowledge on to my mother, Mrs Kirkham, and that’s how it all started. I took the reins about five years ago.
Making cheese is bloody hard work, but it isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life. Back in the day, my mum was making five or six cheeses a day on her own. Nowadays, Mrs Kirkham’s has a team of five full-timers and one part-timer, and we make about 20 10kg cheeses a day. Big dairies churn out thousands of kilos a day, so in the cheese world, we’re minute.
The quality of your cheese is dependent upon what you start off with: start with something great and you’ll end up with something great. The welfare and comfort of our herd of 125 Holstein Friesian cows is crucial. Through the winter, they are kept inside in roomy cubicle housing with slatted floors, so the ground is always clean. They also have massive spongy cow mattresses to lie on, which they love! In the summer they’re outside during the day and back inside at night, so we can monitor what they’re eating. A diet of grass silage, whole-crop (wheat or barley) silage and a compound feed of oats, wheat, barley and maize, along with some treacle, is what gives us the best milk…
Read the full story here.
(Photo ©2013 guardian.co.uk)
San Francisco’s two-wheeled turophiles can combine both their passions into one day of riding around the city and tasting the best cheese that S.F. has to offer:
Sun., May. 26 | 10am-4:30pm | Meet at McLaren Lodge
Join JB Rumburg, Other Avenues’ Cheesemonger for the Tour du Fromage—a bicycle ride highlighting his favorite cheese stops in San Francisco. JB has been a worker-owner of Other Avenues Coop for 10 years, and will be sharing his cheese expertise and experiences by way of bicycle. The ride will take you to the far reaches of the fromage frontier—from Ocean Beach to North Beach. This ride promises to stretch your legs and taste buds!
Free for SF Bicycle Coalition members; $10 donation for non-members; rain cancels rides.
It’s that time of year again! Tickets are now on sale for the 4th Annual Cheesemonger Invitational. This is a can’t miss event, featuring competitive mongering, mountains of cheese (both literally and figuratively) a lavish food spread and reasonably priced drinks, all set in the Larkin Cold Storage facilities in Long Island City and MC’ed by the irrepressible Adam Moskowitz, for a party that usually goes late into the night and draws cheese professionals and turophiles alike into one space. I made it to the 2012 CMI, when Adam Smith from Cowgirl Creamery D.C. won (he’s now moved on to an affinage position at the Cellars at Jasper Hill), and 2011, when Steve Jones of Portland’s Cheese Bar took the title. Matt Rubiner of Rubiner’s Cheesemongers won the 1st ever CMI in 2010.
The mongers compete in 8 rounds, with the last 4 rounds for the 10 finalists only; the winner walks away with the crown for “Best Cheesemonger In America”, insane bragging rights and $1000 in cold hard cash.
This year also sees the introduction of the VIP class of ticket:
“f you are a true cheese lover, buy one of this year’s limited VIP tickets and get: one hour early entrance (5:30 PM) which means first crack at the yum yum, a gift bag you can take home stuffed with even more yum yum, AND THE BEST PART…
VIP participates in the perfect bite part of the competition. Fifty cheesemongers will create the perfect bite of cheese using two other food elements and as VIP you get to sample each and every one. VIP will be cheese nirvana.
Please know for every ticket sold, we will donate $5 to further cheesemonger education via the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award.”
So get your tickets now! This event definitely will sell out so don’t wait ‘til the last minute.
Best. Business Card. Ever. (via Gizmodo)
Since printing its address and contact details on a slice of muenster cheese would probably do more harm than good for Bon Vivant, the Brazilian-based cheese shop hired ad agency JWT to come up with something better. And in every way possible, this miniature cheese grater business card is a much better idea.
So as not to also turn your wallet into a pile of shredded leather, the grater comes in a protective sleeve, which probably also helps to minimize the inevitable cheese smell from permeating your pocket. And that’s also why the garlic growers of the world should just forget about trying a similar gimmick to promote their product.
You can even see some video of the grater in action.
The Food Travel Company blog features an interview with Tenaya Darlington, author of the new book House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes and Pairings (you can check out my review here):
From her tales of cheese retreats, to her tips on how to talk to a cheesemonger, to her generally epic encyclopedic knowledge of cheese, through to her love of Joan Didion, there’s definitely something about Tenaya Darlington, that we find irresistible. We chatted with Tenaya, AKA Madame Fromage, The Cheese Courtesan, about life, cheese soirees, and her new book: Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes and Pairings.
Check out the full interview!
Via RealMilk.com, Arkansas has now legalized on-farm sales of raw cow and goat milk:
Beginning in July 2013, Arkansas farms will be allowed to sell up to 500 gallons of unpasteurized cow milk per month, and up to 500 gallons of unpasteurized goat milk per month, directly to consumers. It will still be illegal to sell unpasteurized milk at farmers markets or other retail outlets. Under the new law, farmers will be required to post a sign on the farm and label unpasteurized products with a standardized label noting that the milk is unpasteurized. Neither the farm nor the cows will be inspected by the state, and the buyer assumes all liability should any health problems arise from consuming the raw milk.
This new law is not only exciting for the consumers who rely on raw milk’s nutrients for health benefits, but also for the farmers who see economic opportunity in taking advantage of the emerging raw milk market – raw milk often sells for $6-$8 per gallon. As the market continues to evolve and more farms begin to offer unpasteurized products, it will be interesting to see where costs stabilize and how farms brand themselves to stand out from the herd.
Read the full story.
(Photo ©2013 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
U Bel Fiuritu, a semi-firm, washed-rind sheep’s milk cheese, is made by the Pierucci family of cheesemakers of Sarl Fromagerie Pierrucci, in the Casinca region of Corsica. Run by 4th-generation cheesemaker Michel Pierucci, the fromagerie collects the milk of as many as 80 farms in the region, transforming them into their line of cheeses, both traditional recipes and new interpretations of Corsican classics. I previously reviewed their A Casinca, a washed-rind goat’s milk cheese.
The name, U Bel Fiuritu, means “Small, Beautiful Flower”, and the ewes, grazing on the scrubby, redolent “Maquis” of the Corsican hillsides, imbue the milk with a wonderful herbal fragrance. The amber-red rind is frosted with patches of white mold, sticky and a bit gritty from regular washes during the 4-10 week aging. The paste is white in the center turning ivory towards the rind, scattered with small eyes.
The creamy, rich paste is complex in flavor, milky, herbaceous, sweet and nutty, sheepy and meaty and with a wonderful pungent bite and spice. This is a cheese that becomes exponentially stinkier the longer it ages: this wheel was near the sweet spot, still a bit firm at the center but ripening inwards, strong in aroma but well-balanced in flavor and with a mild finish.
Purchased at Formaggio Essex.