Thursday, December 18, 2014

Camembert aux Cepes

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all having a wonderful week. We're getting ready to have another fun holiday week at my store and I wanted to let you know about a special cheese we had come in last week. If you remember from a while back, I blogged about the Herve Mons Camembert ( This Camembert is made exclusively for Whole Foods Market and is a pasteurized version of camembert that is made to have flavor closest to a raw milk camembert. The version we received last week is this same Camembert, but with a layer of mascarpone and porcini mushroom in the middle... Fan-freakin-tastic!

Cheese: Camembert aux Cepes
Producer: Hervé Mons
Region: Normandy, France
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

You can see the line of mascarpone and porcini mushrooms in the pictures above. I had my whole team come by and try a piece. It was definitely a decadent treat. We sell through a TON of truffle brie as well as other truffle cheeses, so it was nice to try something with a different mushroom - especially one as tasty as the porcini!

After tasting this cheese, LaVonda, my wine buyer and Certified Sommelier, immediately said that she would pair the David Noyes Pinot Noir. She says the wine has a lot of dark, dried fruit and rich earthiness with a soft velvety mouthfeel that would go perfectly with the earthy cheese and mushrooms.

Most of the Whole Foods Markets in Northern California/Reno should have this cheese, so be sure to swing by your local cheese counter soon and grab a wheel for your upcoming holiday parties before they run out. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Blu 61 - Another Favorite Returns

Hello everyone!

This week I pleasantly discovered that another one of my favorite cheeses had arrived back at our cheese counter, the Blu 61.

Cheese: Blu 61
Producers: The Carpenedo Family at La Casearia
Location: The Veneto region in Italy
Milk: Pastuerized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The Blu 61 is a very special cheese made to commemorate the 50th wedding anniversary of the founder of La Casearia and his wife - Antonio and Giuseppina - who were wed in 1961. They washed the outside of the cheese with Passito di Raboso, a local sweet wine and coated it with wine soaked cranberries. After aging for three months, the cheese is ready to go!

I tasted the Blu 61 again when it first arrived last week and I was reminded why I love this cheese. The paste is super creamy and has the bite that you would expect from a blue cheese. The rind is super thin, so the flavors of the wine and cranberries are present, but not overpowering. I personally like to eat the rind of the cheese along with the paste because it adds such a bright tanginess to the otherwise creamy middle.

You could serve this cheese with a nice barleywine or port. I would absolutely feature this cheese on my holiday cheese plates because it adds a nice pop of vibrant color. Make sure to visit your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter to see if the Blu 61 is there! If so, be sure to ask for a sample. Until next time.. eat, drink and be happy!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lamb Chopper

Hello all!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. As you can imagine, the cheese counter at which I work was super busy and I barely had a second to catch my breath, let alone write a blog post, so I apologize for my brief absence.

We just kicked off our December promotions here at Whole Foods Market and I'm super excited to announce that we have an old favorite back in our case! The Lamb Chopper from Cypress Grove.

Cheese: Lamb Chopper
Cheesemaker: Mary Keehn from Cypress Grove
Location: Holland
Milk: Pasteurized sheep's milk
Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)
If you're familiar with Cypress Grove, you may be confused that this cheese originates from Holland as Cypress Grove is located in Arcata, CA. Mary Keehn actually partners with a Dutch cheesemaker and under her direction, the cheese is produced in Holland and then imported by the folks at Cypress Grove.

We haven't had this cheese for a few months and I was very excited to get it back. I tried a piece this morning and was pleasantly reminded how much I love this cheese. It starts off very mellow and buttery and then develops into a nutty, caramel flavor. It's fantastic.

I'm already thinking about all of the different things I can do with this cheese. Later on next week I'll be hosting a cheese and port tasting and I'm 99.9% sure that I'll be featuring this cheese with one of the tawny ports. If you're more of a beer person, I would try a nice toasty porter. Yum!

If you're in the NorCal/Reno area, be sure to swing by any of your local Whole Foods Market cheese counters where the Lamb Chopper is on sale! Woohoo! We'd also love to give you a sample, so don't be afraid to ask. And as always, if you're at the Whole Foods Market in Los Altos, be sure to swing by the cheese department and ask for me. I would love to say hello and talk cheese.

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Parsley, Sage, - Romao -, and Thyme!

Hello everyone!

It is incredible how quickly Thanksgiving is approaching. A little over a week and we're already there!

As you can imagine, cheese has become a huge part of my holiday traditions and I am often bringing cheese boards to holiday parties. I have several go-to crowd pleaser cheeses that I use on my cheese boards, but I also like to throw in at least one seasonal or fun cheese. The Romao fills both roles for me. While it is available year round, I like to use it during the holidays because the rind is coated in lard and rosemary - and what fits in better with your holiday meal than fat and herbs?
Cheese: Romao
Producer: Estanislao at Castilla La Mancha
Location: Cuenca, Spain
Milk: Raw sheep's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

As stated above, the Romao is from Spain (Cuenca specifically) and is made of 100% raw sheep’s milk. It is hand rubbed with lard and coated with rosemary, then aged in caves for at least 8 months. The flavor of the inner paste is very similar to Manchego - rich, nutty and very flavorful. The rosemary definitely adds a fun element and while very aromatic, the rosemary flavor only penetrates the first ½ inch or so of the paste. All in all a very balanced cheese that does not have overly metallic or bitter flavors from the rosemary.

If you're looking for a yummy beer to have with the Romao, try the Saison DuPont from Belgium. It's a bright, herbal beer with a light effervescence - perfect to cut through the fat in the cheese and pair with the rosemary on the rind.

Like most of the cheeses I've mentioned this month, this cheese is on promotion at the Whole Foods Markets in Northern California and Reno with a sweet price break. Be sure to come in and grab a piece for yourself before it's gone! If you happen to be close to the Los Altos location, be sure to come by and ask for me and I'll give you a yummy sample!

I hope you all are having a great weekend and that you have a wonderful pre-Thanksgiving week. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fromage d'Affinois de Brebis

Hello everyone!
I hope you all had a great weekend. I had a WONDERFUL weekend as Lynn, my better half, proposed to me! I guess I should call her my fiancé now... I'm so excited! We were out of town for most of the weekend, so when we went shopping today, we had to grab a yummy cheese to celebrate. We decided on the Fromage d' Affinois de Brebis.

Cheese: Fromage d'Affinois be Brebis
Producer: Fromagerie Guilloteau
Location: Rhone-Alps region in France
Milk: Pasteurized sheep's milk
Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)

This cheese is a very approachable considering it is 100% sheep's milk. It is super creamy and buttery while still having a touch of the earthy, gamey, nutty flavors that are present in almost all sheep's milk cheeses. The cheese on its own is very simple, so I decided to step it up a notch...

I spread the Fromage d'Affinois de Brebis on the apple crisps from Simple & Crisp and drizzled some honey over the top. The creamy, nutty cheese with the crispy apple and flavorful honey made for a perfect pairing. The only thing I would possibly add in the future would be a nice, bubbly Prosecco to cut the richness of this delectable treat.

Even my good friends' one year old. Nolan, loved the treat! If you want to try this for yourself, be sure to stop by your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter (the Los Altos location if you'd like to visit me!) and ask for a sample. It's on sale in Northern California/Reno for the month of November, so it would be a great time to take some home for yourself. I hope you get a chance to try this yummy cheese!

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Meadow Creek Dairy's Grayson

Hello all,

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween last night. I had a lot of fun... my girlfriend and I dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Quite a riot!

One of the best things about being back in a store behind the cheese counter is that I get to try all of the delicious seasonal cheeses we receive. The other day we received a shipment of Grayson from Meadow Creek Dairy. I was in the right place at the right time because I was the lucky one who got to unwrap and cut this wonderful cheese.

Cheese: Grayson
Producer: The Feete family at Meadow Creek Dairy
Location: Galax, VA
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

As I unwrapped the Grayson, I was greeted with the funky smell typical of washed rind cheeses. The rind was slightly sticky, but not unbearably so. Cutting into the cheese revealed a beautifully smooth, straw colored paste that I couldn't wait to taste.

When I tasted the Grayson, it was like I was tasting the grass the Jersey cows had eaten. The Feetes only make this cheese when the cows are out on pasture when their diet consists of mainly fresh grass. By using raw milk, the flavors of the pasture really come through along with the slightly spicy, very rich flavors of the butterfat in the milk. The consistency is very smooth and relatively firm. It melted beautifully in my mouth and I couldn't help but take another bite.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, you're in luck! It's on promotion for the month of November and is available at most, if not all of the cheese counters in the Northern California/Reno region. You're more than welcome to stop by the cheese counter at the Los Altos location where I have relocated and chat cheese with me as well!

I hope you all had a wonderful first day of November and I look forward to the possibility of talking cheese at my new store with you all. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, October 24, 2014

La Casera Quercino

Hello everyone!

I'm back from my two weeks in Italy and wow, what an amazing time I had. I'm still getting over the last touches of jet lag but for the most part I'm feeling good. When I get all of my pictures compiled, I'll be sure to post some here for you all to see. If you're on Facebook, you can see them on my personal and Shootin' the Bries pages:

Today I figured I would stick with the Italy theme and talk about an Italian cheese that we have currently on promotion - the Quercino from La Casera.

Cheese: Quercino
Producer: La Casera
Location: Piedmont (Piemonte), Italy
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Quercino is derived from the word "quercia" which means Oak in Italian. This is very fitting because it is indeed oak bark that wraps around this wonderful puddle of cheese. It is a soft ripened, bloomy rind cheese that has quite a bit of character. The aroma is musty, slightly funky, but very inviting. The cheese is perfectly tasty with the rind in tact and I actually prefer it that way. But, I wanted to make it easy to share, so I cut off the top "lid" to allow for a kind of fondue pot action. The paste is a straw color with a custard-like consistency. It tastes deliciously buttery, but has an umami, earthy quality that elevates the flavor to the next level. It reminds me of L'Edel de Cleron - vaguely reminiscent of the Vacherin Mont d'Or with more brie-like qualities.

I used the Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps to dip into this delectable treat. The fruit and seeds in the crackers gave an interesting contrast in both consistency and acidity. If I wasn't at work right now, I would be enjoying this cheese with a nice jammy Zinfandel. Thank goodness it's Friday!

Be sure to visit your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter soon as this cheese is only on sale for a few more days. And speaking of cheese counters.....

I've decided that I have missed being behind the cheese counter so much that I will be returning to the Los Altos Whole Foods Market as the Specialty Team Leader. I'll be running the beer, cheese and wine department and am really looking forward to the holiday season. If you are ever close to the Los Altos store (4800 El Camino Real, Los Altos, CA) be sure to swing by and say hello! I'd be happy to help with any cheese plates, pairings, party planning, etc.

I hope to see you there soon! My first day will be Monday, October 27th. 

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!