curdnerd's blog

Raw Milk Cheese Association

camembert-normandieAbout 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.

Reminder | Menu for Hope 4 | Win a $100 Gift Certificate for Artisanal Premium Cheese

Reminder that the Menu for Hope campaign ends tomorrow, so make sure you get over to the FirstGiving donation site and purchase some raffle tickets for prize code UE20.

UPDATE: The FirstGiving site seems to still be accepting donations, so if you haven't yet given, now's the time!

Annatto and Allergies

A reader writes:

Is there any way for a regular person to influence the food industry (especially cheesemakers)? I am highly allergic to the coloring Annatto--used in most of the yellow colored cheeses (I know there are lots of other yummy non-yellow cheeses out there, but sometimes you just want a good slice of American on a sandwich). I am sure there are other people that have the same problem. I wonder why we have to put Annatto tree bark in perfectly good cheese (and other products too). There is more and more bark going into our foods recently. Is there any way to make it stop?

Storms Ravage Dairies in Northwest

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: The Ethicurean has some more coverage of the storms' effects on farms in the Northwest, including a link to the Washington State Farm Bureau, which has started a flood relief fund.

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.

Sake & Cheese: a Match Made in Heaven

sake_cheese.jpgIf 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.

Menu for Hope 4: Win a $100 Gift Certificate for Artisanal Premium Cheese

mfh4roundedsmall.jpgEvery 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, has teamed up with Artisanal Premium Cheese to offer one lucky raffle winner a $100 gift certificate toward purchases at 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,APC_Logo_250.png 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 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

For a list of all the prizes in the Northeast U.S., visit the Menu for Hope page at Serious Eats. For other regions, see Chez Pim. More details on how to enter available after the jump.

Ted Allen Discusses Cheese on the Today Show

Tricks of the trade: CheeseTed Allen, food expert from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and judge on Top Chef, visits Murray's and chat's cheese on a recent episode of Weekend Today. Click on the cheese at right to view the video.

NY Times on Stichelton (Raw-milk Stilton)

Yesterday's New York Times Food Section ran an article by noted food scientist and author Harold McGee on Stichelton, a new raw-milk Stilton coming out of the U.K. I'd like to think this article was inspired by one that I wrote back in October for Serious Eats, but who knows? Either way I'm happy this cheese is getting press because it is probably the best blue I've ever had. Sweet, creamy, barnyardy, not too "bluey"--it's true perfection.

Ben Bernanke Loves Him Some Blintzes

Photo by Susanica on
In a speech last week in Charlotte, NC, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke revealed that way back in 1958 the Charlotte Observer published an article with his grandmother's recipe for cheese blintzes. The article, "Ben Will Enjoy Grandma's Blintzes," also quoted little four-year-old Ben asking, "Grandma, why don't you teach my mommy how to make blintzes?"

Question About Making Parmesan

Calling all cheesemaking experts: the following message was recently posted to the forums. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions!

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