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The most popular cheese in the world

According to The Boston Globe, the most popular cheese in the world is cheddar.

The biggest cheese? Cheddar: What we know about the world’s most analyzed cheese   The Boston Globe.  Michael H. Tunick, February 23, 2014. Tunick writes:

“OF THE MORE than 2,000 varieties of cheese made around the world, one rules supreme: cheddar. It’s more than just a New England farmstead staple; it’s the most popular variety of cheese worldwide, and also the most studied—more than 1,400 scientific publications mention it in their titles. If any cheese holds a key place in the academic world, it’s cheddar.”

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White Stilton with Blueberries (found at Liuzzi’s Cheese)

I love White Stilton with Blueberries.  From what I’m gathering from reading books and websites on cheese, this might make me gauche.  For example, Liz Thorpe, a star cheesemonger, refers to the type I like as “a gruesome white cheese studded with icky treats such as chocolate chips and dried blueberries” (From her book The Cheese Chronicles: A Journey Through the Making and Selling So Cheese in America, from Field to farm to Table.)  I also recently found a Chowhound thread  where someone from the UK writes that at one store
“….they had a pile of cappucchino flavored white stilton. as i looked at it in horror, a man came up to me and said: you think this is bad, over at morrison’s they had stilton in three layers: cheese flavor white, chocolate flavor brown, and mint flavor green.”
I’m not sure I’d like mint flavor Stilton, but I do like the White Stilton with dried apricots that I’ve gotten at the Elm City Market, and I’m thinking that the white stilton with blueberries that my husband got for me at Liuzzi Cheese for Valentine’s Day might, possibly, maybe, appeal to more refined caseophiles than myself.  (Maybe.  After reading of other people’s horror I feel slightly embarrassed to publicly say that I like it….but to heck with it.  I LOVE LIUZZI CHEESE’S WHITE STILTON WITH BLUEBERRIES. Must…not…succumb to feelings of inferiority re: cheese…)
     Re: the deliciousness of Liuzzi’s White Stilton with Blueberries: there doesn’t seem to be any added sweeteners to the blueberries, so the fruit-taste isn’t at all over-bearing–it’s more like just eating a sharp cheese and a great pairing of blueberries at the same time.  It’s especially great as a dessert cheese.
     I’m also  looking forward to going to Liuzzi Cheese myself, too, now that my husband has discovered it–it’s in North Haven,and is known for having many varieties of great cheese, especially Italian cheeses like Mozzarella, Caccioricotta and Caciocavallo.  One can get a good sense of the store through the video below  from Shore Publishing. 
     I will say it again, as a shout-out to the world and against my own newbie-caseonaut related insecruity: I LOVE LIUZZI CHEESE’S WHITE STILTON WITH BLUEBERRIES (and you might too if you give it a chance.) LOVE IT.  LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Carr Valley Bread Cheese!

Note: I’ve been looking for a good bread cheese that melts in coffee more like the original Juustoleipa than others I’ve found, as one traditional way to eat it is to put it in a cup and pour coffee on top.  This weekend I found Carr Valley Bread Cheese  at the Guilford Food Center.  It melts and absorbs the taste of the coffee just enough to taste wonderful, but still stays firm enough to eat like a regular piece of cheese.  It also melts just enough in the microwave to be scrumptious with jelly.  I’ve read elsewhere on the Internet that some children compare it to pizza, so the next time I’ll get it I’ll be sure to share it with my toddler.  (This last time I hogged it all to myself.) Carr Valley Bread Cheese is expensive but definitely worth a try. 

Mediocre cheese omelets vs Good cheese omelets

     Mediocre cheese omelets have pieces of processed cheese place on top of the omelets rather than real cheese inside of the omelets. 

      Mediocre vegetable omelets are watery. 
 
      Mediocre cheese and vegetable omelets combine these two sins.  
 
     Good omelets (always with cheese!) are important to me, as I usually have to eat them straight, sans bread or hash browns to mask the taste of mediocrity.  I am, sadly, extremely hypoglycemic, which means it’s hard for my body to process many sugars or alcohols or carbohydrates. They make me sleepy or cranky or both, though sometimes I’ll let myself have a grilled cheese sandwich during the day if I know I can nap it off.  ( I also have to eat protein every three hours, else my blood sugar drop = hence my addiction to good cheese.)   
 
     So when we were debating places to go for brunch this past Sunday, I got grumpy ahead of time, as all of the places my husband mentioned either had mediocre omelets or no bread-less food at all. Then my husband drove into the Shoreline Diner parking lot in Guilford.  “Hm.  Shoreline Diner,” I said.  “I bet they have mediocre omelets!” 
 
     But…they do not.  They have good omelets.  At least, they have a good Gorgonzola and Spinach Omelet!  Big enough for two to share, non-watery, nice and sharp-tasting. The cheese is on the inside.  THE INSIDE!  Thank you, Shoreline Diner! I’m going to start a few “pages” at the top of this blog listing good places in Connecticut to get things like great cheese, great omelets, etc. I will add the Shoreline Diner to the latter.   
 
     I’m mentioning the Shoreline Diner also partly because of vegetarian and vegan friends–the Diner also bills itself as a “Vegetarian Enclave,” and they have a page of vegan entrees  and salads, (scroll down)  as well as a gluten-free menu. 
 
     Some other CT places where one can get GOOD (not mediocre) cheese omeletts:
 
 
     Other suggestions are welcome.  I will begin a page of them at the top of this blog. 

One of the best food poems ever-written is about cheese. Its writer was born in Hamden.

     In her memoir Tender at the Bone, food critic Ruth Reichl alludes to the difficulty of describing taste:
“Lawrence Durrell,” I said, wondering it I was pronouncing the name right, “said that olives had a taste as old as cold water.” I rolled the musty pit around in my mouth, thinking that if I could come up with just one description as good I could call myself a writer.
There are very few poems that contain great descriptions of the sort Reichl calls for. A look through most food poetry anthologies will reveal poems that describe the way the poets feel when they eat certain foods, and poems that describe the way that food looks, and even the way it sounds. But very few poets, apparently, have written about the way that different foods taste.
 
Donald Hall,  who grew up in Hamden, CT, is one of the few poets who has taken up this challenge. His poem “O Cheese” is one of the best food poems out there. It can be found in the book The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink  by Kevin Young, and in this Huffington Post article by Rob Kaufelt of Murray’s Cheese– When Cheese Becomes Poetry , 3/11/13:

O Cheese
By Donald Hall

In the pantry the dear dense cheeses, Cheddars and harsh
Lancashires; Gorgonzola with its magnanimous manner;
the clipped speech of Roquefort; and a head of Stilton
that speaks in a sensuous riddling tongue like Druids.

Read rest of poem

Brie: Eat The Rind

I’m starting to get much more crazy about Brie than ever before…perhaps because it’s now easier to get good Brie than it was when I was growing up.  Before the great American Cheese Renaissance of the 1990’s, mass-market Brie seemed to be the only brie available and no one knew the correct way of eating it.

Many years ago I heard some church people gossip about a woman who came to coffee hour and ate most of the Brie.  SHE EVEN ATE THE RIND.

The other church-goers were scandalized!

I kept quiet because I myself usually eat the rind of Brie, but hadn’t known before that This. Was. Just. Simply. Wrong.

But it’s not wrong!

A cheesemonger recently told me that if one is eating a good Brie one should be able to eat the rind….and the rind shouldn’t be pure white, as the mass-market ones often are. It should instead look a little marked up. There’s a photo of what a good Brie looks like at the Paso Robles Insider blog: Chees’n it Up in Paso Roble,  along with notes about how the rind is “not only edible, but is crucial to the entire flavor profile of the cheese,” as

 Mold-ripened cheeses such as Brie are inoculated or sprayed with specific types of fungus or yeast that soften the paste of the cheese and encourage growth of the soft, white, fuzzy rind.  This style of cheese begins to ripen from the outside, and the center is the last to become creamy.  It might sound crazy, but we know how hard cheesemakers work to achieve the perfect bloomy rind, and it always breaks our heart a little to see that someone has dug the insides out of a beautiful round….

(Side note: people at Chowhound  call digging out the insides of cheese “strip-mining.”  It’s bad etiquette to strip-mine at a party. If you don’t want to eat the rind, put a slice on your plate and cut the rind off there instead of leaving it on the communal plate.)

Two more tips on Brie-eating: leave Brie out of the refrigerator for a couple of hours before consuming it.  It’s best to bring it to room temperature, as cold makes the fat molecules contract and become less tasty.  (See the Kitchn’s Cheese Tip: Don’t Eat Cold Cheese! ) Then slice the brie like a pie to get its full flavor instead of cutting pieces off from the point up. (Tastes can vary in intensity depending on where one is in the cheese.)

To me, at least, Brie is best paired with other foods rather than eaten straight.  I ate some last night, spooned onto apple slices.  Dang was that ever good….There was a sale on Belltoile Brie at the Elm City Market this week, (which is where I got mine,) but I’ve also gotten good Brie, plus good information on the cheese and how to eat it from the Fairfield Cheese Company –a place I’ll rave much more about in future posts.

How to wrap cheese/How to turn into a turophobe

For most of my life I’ve stored opened blocks of cheese into small plastic sandwich bags.  I recently found out, though, that this is a way of “killing” cheese.  As The American Cheese Society says, “natural cheese is a living organism, with enzymes and bacteria that need air and moisture to survive.”  (Ack! Phrases like that make me start to understand why some people develop “turophobia,” or fear of cheese!  Perhaps one shouldn’t think about this too much….) Anyway, in an effort to change for the better I’ve bought special cheese bags made by Formaticum  (Lisa McManus of the America’s Test Kitchen- Feed says they work better than any other product) but one of my more-advanced caseonaut friends raised her eyebrow at me when I told her about them and said, “uh…you don’t need those. Use wax paper.”  

     Wax paper?! Brilliant!

     Robin Williams, the cheesemonger at the Elm City Market, seems to agree.  He’s made a worth-watching 53 second video on How to Wrap and Store Cheese.  Williams says to wrap cheese loosely first in wax paper, butcher paper, or aluminum foil.  Then wrap it saran wrap. This “will ensure a nice little world for your cheese to live and breathe in.”
 
     Good advice! 
 
    But!  Must…not…think too much about cheese “breathing….” 

Mice don’t actually like cheese

     I’m in the process of enlisting the help of family, friends, and especially coworkers (“especially” as I work full-time and see coworkers more than family or friends) for help with tasting, as I know that not everyone’s taste buds are the same and I need accurate assessments esp. of types of cheese I myself don’t like. (I don’t like smoked cheese, for example, but I know there are other people who do.) I’m in a new job where my coworkers don’t know me well yet, so I’m finding talking about this to them kind of tricky.  For example, one coworker looked downright terrified today when I leaped in front of her desk and said “I NEED YOUR HELP!!!!!!! I KNOW YOU LIKE CHEESE!!!!!! IF I GIVE YOU A PIECE OF CHEESE SOMEDAY AND ASK FOR YOUR OPINION WILL YOU GIVE IT TO ME???????? WILL YOU???????? WILL YOU???????  Cheese is good.” My coworker said yes, but that might have been just because she wanted me to go away.
     I was thinking of joking to my cheese-tasters that I’d call them Casonaut “Mice,” but then I read an article that says that mice don’t actually like cheese: The Debunker: Do Mice Really Like Cheese?  Scott Lydon, Woot, January 27, 2014. Excerpt:
“Mice have evolved almost entirely without cheese or anything resembling it,” explained Dr. Holmes. “Cheese is … therefore not something that they would respond to.” In fact, food with sharp odors, like many cheeses, was found to be a distinct turn-off for mice, what with their keen sense of smell and all.
     “What about rats?” My husband asked when I told him this.  “Do rats like cheese?”
     “I don’t know,” I told him.
     “Or squirrels?”
     “I don’t know.”
     If you are a friend, family member, or coworker of mine in Connecticut and would like to help me sample cheese, please let me know.  If you are not yet one of my personal acquaintances but like cheese, I’m always looking for suggestions–please drop me a line sometime via this blog!

FOUR DANGEROUS CHEESE ITEMS

1.

Casu Marzu: “rotten cheese,” or cheese that’s made with maggots.  The maggots are supposed to be alive when the cheese is eaten.  Internet legend says one has to be careful while eating casu marzu, lest the maggots jump into one’s eyes. Since this is a Connecticut-centered blog I have to add that one probably can’t get Casu Marzu here, unless one has ties to the black market.  Those of us who don’t have black market ties can live vicariously via Gordon Ramsey, however.  Watch a Youtube video of Ramsey eating Casu Marzu. Also, read Anna Ward’s story about eating Casu Marzu at Serious Eats: Cheese Confessionals: I Ate Casu Marzu, aka “Maggot Cheese.”

2.
Bread Cheese Bacon Double Cheeseburger. By Nick at Dude Foods. Eat and have heat attack. Immediately.
3.
My favorite pesto grilled cheese, sold at a place that I will not name. I love this sandwich, but once, when I ate it, I found that the cook had by accident put the green wire twist-tie from a bread bag into it. (I assumed this was an honest mistake, as the twist-tie was the same color as the vegetation used in the sandwich.) Also, after eating another one of them for lunch yesterday I got stomach pains. I like the sandwich so much that I will probably go back to the same place and eat it again, however. I live on the wild side.
4.
Goat cheese cherry tomatoes. Dangerous because THEY’RE SO GOOD ONE CAN’T STOP EATING THEM. Or at least I can’t. After I got over my pesto-grilled-cheese-induced stomach ache yesterday I went to a Superbowl party. I had to leave super-early, due to my toddler’s bedtime, which and this was good, as if I hadn’t I would have eaten all of the goat cheese cherry tomatoes and the other Superbowl party-goers would not have been happy. I’m hoping the hostess might find out from the guest-who-made-them and let me know for sure, (Anna? Anna?) but I think this might be the recipe.
I also made my first attempt at making a cheese ball yesterday and brought it the party. It was decent, but not dangerously good enough–i.e. one didn’t have to keep going back to eat more of it, as one does when eating a truly dangerously-delicious cheese recipe. I will hold off on sharing cheese ball recipes until I find out how to make a scarily-good one.
————-
Later:
     Our Superbowl hostess contacted her friend Lisa, the maker of what I thought were goat-cheese filled cherry tomatoes but which were actually “peppadew peppers stuffed with soft goat cheese, that is it , just 2 ingredients.”
     PEPPADEW PEPPERS! Dear gosh were they ever amazing….

“BellaVitano Gold” and the difficulty of writing well about cheese

My favorite cheese right now–the kind I get all the time for myself and my 2 year old cheese-addict son–is a kind of cheese called BellaVitano Gold.

     Since I’m new to writing about cheese, I’m not sure how to describe it other than saying it’s, “ummmmm, really good.”
     Oy! This description-thing is something I have to work on pretty hard, as it feels like everyone I know who likes cheese is better at describing it than I am.  For example, I gave a wedge of BellaVitano Gold to  the then-protein-craving-pregnant-mother of one of my son’s daycare colleagues,  and she emailed that it reminded her of “Monchego with the saltiness I love in Parmesan, and yet it is totally in a league of its own!  (nutty, salty, and very robust!)”
     Pretty accurate, and much better than I can do right now!  According to the article “Describing Cheese”  by Jennifer Meier at About.com, “Nutty” refers to cheese that’s “a little sweet, often similar to the flavor of hazelnuts.”
     I’ll go with that, adding that BellaVitano is slightly sweet…but also slightly sharp, too….
     Sigh. “Slightly sweet but also slightly sharp.”  Not the best lingo, but whatever. I plan to keep trying to learn from people who really have their cheese-words down.  People who do sound wonderful and metaphorical and mellifluous….A coworker told me how much fun he once had at Caseus,  New Haven’s cheese restaurant, where the owner Jason Sobocinski described all of the individual cheeses on a cheese plate to him.  My coworker was like, “Yeah, baby, keep using those words!” (Sobocinski also has a cookbook out called Caseus Fromagerie Bistro Cookbook: Every Cheese Has A Story and a show on The Cooking Channel called The Big Cheese. Apparently this guy really knows how to talk about cheese!  In an interview for “Guest of a Guest”  he says
 
My credo is that every cheese has a story, and that’s one of the things that really draws me to it. I’m not necessarily selling just a product; I’m selling all the things that go along with it. Legends, stories, ideas and sometimes just experiences that people have had when they go to a place and try a cheese – that to me is what eating is all about.
     I haven’t found good stories about BellaVitano Gold yet, but it’s  made by Sartori Cheese, and according to their website they also make BellaVitano cheeses infused with Balsamic, Black Pepper, Merlot, Raspberry, Chai, Espresso, and occasionally Cognac, Cannella, and Peppermint.  I’ve gotten the Gold, Merlot, and Espresso from New Haven’s Elm City Market and bought the Raspberry one at Stew Leonards  in Danbury (Stew Leonards is a crazy-huge/strange grocery store, noted by Ripley’s Believe it or Not as being the largest dairy store in the entire world.  It also also has mechanical singing cows, singing milk cartons, singing bananas, singing butter-sticks, etc. in most of its aisles.  Warning to parents of toddlers: this can either be wonderful or absolutely, utterly terrifying….)  So far I still like the Gold best, but maybe I’ll find new favorites as my palete, and vocabulary, develop.
———————————–
     Ah, here’s another description from the website “Wisconsin Cheese.” I like it.  
Inspired by traditional Italian farmstead cheese, BellaVitano® is a rich, creamy style with a nutty, fruity flavor with caramel and pineapple overtones. The flavor begins in the mouth like a premium Parmesan and finishes with hints of melted butter. The texture combines the creaminess of a young Cheddar with the savory, crystalline crunch of a premium aged Parmesan.