About 10 years ago, the FDA attempted to create a rule that would ban all raw milk cheeses regardless of whether they'd been made under strictly sanitary conditions and aged over 60 days. A group called the "Cheese of Choice" coalition successfully lobbied to keep the rules the way they were, appealing to the general public's fear that they might lose their beloved Parmigiano Reggianos and Roqueforts. However, the rule is again up for consideration this year, and again American cheesemakers are not taking things lightly.
Manouri is a Greek cheese made from the whey left over from Feta production combined with sheep's milk cream. Seriously, what could be bad about that? It is smooth, sweet and tangy, the texture is similar to cheesecake, and it is used in a lot of Greek pastries and desserts, often paired with sweet things like honey and/or fruit. Moschophilero is a Greek white grape varietal, similar to Muscat, with a complex bouquet and a nice balance between tangy acid and fruity sweetness.
Historic rainstorms sacked the Pacific Northwest last week, with devastating effects on dairies both large and small. Many were affected, but the Black Sheep Creamery in Adna, Washington, was hit particularly hard. According to the storm damage round-up over at the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project, they lost all but 23 of their sheep and their house and barn were flooded with 30 inches of water. In the coming days, the PNW Cheese Project will be posting about fundraising efforts that that are being launched to help those impacted by the storms. We will keep you posted here as well.
UPDATE: Pacific NW Cheese Project has posted a list of fundraising options and events.
UPDATE: Beecher's Handmade Cheese in Seattle has set up a benefit account for Black Sheep Creamery. Details after the jump.
If you are as skeptical as I was before I attended this great class at Artisanal the other day), all I can say is, "Don't knock it till you've tried it." In the end I came away with a new revelation: cheese pairs better with sake than with red wine. It has no tannins to get in the way, and even dry sakes have enough sweetness to balance with the savoriness of cheese. Many sakes also have lush aromatics (I was tasting fennel, apple, banana, rice milk) which, when paired with the right cheeses, can really make for a match made in heaven.
The class featured five different sakes as well as two shochus (a distilled liquor made from rice, japanese sweet potato, barley, brown sugar or buckwheat). According to Artisanal's Max McCalman, who ran the class with sake expert Michael John Simkin and importer George Kao, this was the first time (as far as he knew) that cheeses had ever been officially paired with shochu. More on that later.
Every year at this time Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim organizes the Menu for Hope campaign, a charity event where food bloggers everywhere help to raise money for the UN World Food Programme. Last year's effort raised a whopping $60,925.12 for the charity, which is dedicated to feeding the world's hungry.
Food bloggers from around the world are offering prizes to be granted via an online raffle. Each $10 donation gives you one virtual raffle ticket, to be allocated towards any prize of your choosing (and there are many). For our part, Curdnerds.com has teamed up with Artisanal Premium Cheese to offer one lucky raffle winner a $100 gift certificate toward purchases at ArtisanalCheese.com. To enter right away for this incredible prize, go to the FirstGiving donation site The prize code is UE20). For more details, keep reading...
$100 Gift Certificate for Artisanal Premium Cheese
What sets Artisanal Premium Cheese apart is the art of affinage -- an ancient practice by which passionate cheese professionals complete the cheese maker's labor of love, patiently nurturing each cheese to optimal ripeness and peak flavor. Founded by Chef Terrance Brennan, who revolutionized cheese appreciation in the United States at his New York City restaurants Picholine and Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro, Artisanal Premium Cheese makes the world's finest cheeses available nationwide as never before. The gift certificate may be used online at ArtisanalCheese.com towards the purchase of any of their products, including cheeses, cheese gift baskets, and cheese accessories. Residents of and visitors to the New York area can even use it to purchase tickets to cheese classes and tastings. Once again, to enter go to the FirstGiving donation site and use prize code UE20
Keen's is one of England's few remaining farmstead cheddars. Produced in the West Country from raw cow's milk, it is a wonderfully crumbly, grassy cheddar with a smooth bite and a lingering finish. Pairing it with apples is a great idea, the latter's fruitiness serving to highlight the acidic twang of the cheddar.
In fact last year I posted an entry about pairing cheese with apples, and the cheddar I chose then was Fiscalini Farms Cheddar, produced in California. The apple it went best with was Mutsu, a green apple that's firm, tart, and sweet. The balance between sweet and tart is perfect in the Mutsu, and I like to think it complements that very same balance evident in all great cheddars.