Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Miss Morbier? Try Secret de Scey!

Hello loyal readers!

There has been quite a few changes with the FDA reformulating their procedures and for the moment, Morbier is one of the cheeses that has been affected by these changes. If you've been craving some Morbier recently, we have a cheese that may satisfy your craving until we can get the original back - the Secret de Scey!

Cheese: Secret de Scey
Producers: Fromagerie Jean Perrin
Region: Franche-Comte, France
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The Secret de Scey is actually the same exact cheese and recipe as the Morbier, it is just made with pasteurized milk. AOC regulations have changed recently for the Morbier saying that it must be made with raw milk, so all pasteurized versions of Morbier are now called Secret de Scey.

The traditional recipe of the Morbier and now the Secret de Scey includes two different milkings, one in the morning and one in the evening. The farmers would take the morning milking and after it had been processed, place the curd into the form. They would then sprinkle vegetable ash and salt on top to keep the curd from drying out. For the evening milking, the process would be repeated and this curd would be placed in the same form as the morning milking on top of the vegetable ash and salt. After the curds have set, the cheese is washed with a natural brine and is aged for a minimum of four months. 

The Secret de Scey (as well as the Morbier) will always have the signature line of vegetable ash lining the middle of the paste. This is how you can tell the difference between the two milkings. Try tasting the paste on each side of the ash separately. Do they taste different? Depending on what the cows ate that day, there may be a large or small difference in flavor. That's what makes this cheese so fun!

Don't be frightened by the semi-potent washed rind smell of the cheese... the paste is creamy with a hint of funk. If you're a "stinky" cheese fan, you should add this one to your list. As for a beverage pairing, I lean more toward a Saison/Farmhouse style beer. The light, almost fizzy quality of these beers help cut the cloying cream and slight funk of the cheese... Quite incredible.Be sure to swing by the Whole Foods Market Los Altos cheese counter soon and we'd be happy to give you a sample of this yummy cheese!

ALSO, if you're interested in yummy cheese at a GREAT price, be sure to come by our cheese counter on Friday, February 6 for 20% off ALL CUT IN HOUSE CHEESE! That means... any cheese that we cut and wrap in house will be 20% off for that Friday and that Friday only! I'll be behind the cheese counter from 8am - 4:30pm if you want to stop by and chat cheese with me! You better believe I'll be stocking up on some cheese that day also!

I hope to see you on Friday, February 6 or any day before then! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Enjoy National Cheese Lover's Day with some Challerhocker!

Happy National Cheese Lover's Day everyone!

I hope you all are having a great week so far. Today is an amazing day because it is in fact National Cheese Lover's Day. I wasn't behind the cheese counter today because I took a couple of days off... BUT I did cut into a lovely cheese the other day that is currently on promotion that I would love to share with you all... the Challerhocker.

Cheese: Challerhocker
Producers: Kaserei Tufertschwil/Walter Rass of Chas & Co.
Region: Tufertschwil, St.Gallen, Switzerland
Milk: Thermalized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Walter Rass is known for his superb Appenzeller and has won myriad awards for said cheese. Instead of sitting on his laurels, he decided to step up his game and tweak the recipe. He changed the curd size, adjusted the cooking temperature and lengthened the aging process. "Challerhocker" literally means "sitting in the cellar" which is one of the important differences between Challerhocker and Appenzeller as it ages for a minimum of 10 months or more while the Appenzeller only ages for 8-10 months. 

The flavor of the Challerhocker is spectacular. It has a brown butter, caramel, nutty quality of which I can't get enough. It also has the tiny tyrosine amino acid "flavor crystals" throughout the wonderfully creamy paste. I am 100% going to add this cheese to my next fondue. It does have a little pungency, so if you're a little gun-shy with the stinkier cheeses, be sure to ask for a sample before taking a piece home with you.

Be sure to take advantage of this promotion while you can! This cheese is not inexpensive, so now would be the time to stock up. Swing by your local NorCal Whole Foods Cheese counter and check it out! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Nettle Meadow Farm's Kunik

Happy New Year loyal readers!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Things have settled down at the cheese counter this week and I finally have a moment to write about some of the fun cheeses we have! Today, I'm going to talk about a cheese of which Ryan, my Cheese Specialist, is quite fond - Kunik from Nettle Meadow Farm.

Cheese: Kunik (named after one of the first goats on the farm) 
Producers: Sheila Flanagan and Lorraine Lambiase of Nettle Meadow Farm
Region: Southern Adirondack Park in Thurman, New York
Milk: Pasteurized goat and cow's milk (75% goat's milk, 25% jersey cow's cream)
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

I'd personally never had the Kunik until a couple of days ago when one of my team members opened it up for a customer to try. When it was cut open, it was almost at peak ripeness. The paste was luscious and gooey and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a sample. 

As the cheese hit my tongue, it was obvious that it was a triple creme right off the bat. The thick, buttery-ness of the paste was unmistakable. The next flavor that hit my palate was the slight tang of the goat's milk followed by the cloying texture of jersey cow's cream. I was also very impressed by the complex notes of grass and grain that were present in the cheese. As it says right on the label, "This cheese is a sumptuous concentration of the organic grains and wild herbs our goats and sheep eat every day, including wild raspberry leaf, nettle, kelp, comfrey, garlic, barley, goldenrod". A lot of cheese makers I know try to avoid having their livestock eat these very flavorful herbs as the flavors get passed on in the milk causing "off" flavors. To me it was such a breath of fresh air really being able to taste the terroir and experience some of the environment in which the goats live. 

The typical beverage pairing with many triple cremes is a bright, sparkling wine of sorts. In this case, a sparkling wine would absolutely work with this cheese, but what I was really craving was a nice chocolate or hazelnut porter. The complexity of the Kunik would pair beautifully with the bigger flavors of a porter. 

Next time you're in the Los Altos area, be sure to stop by the Whole Foods cheese counter there and say hello! I'd love to have you taste a sample of this magnificent cheese.

Until next time (you won't have to wait so long this time), eat, drink and be happy!!

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 (http://shootinthebries.blogspot.com/2013/05/herve-mons-camembert.html) 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!