Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Petit Suisse - with fruit!

Hello everyone,

I hope your November is going swimmingly. I have been on a big yogurt kick recently and discovered that we have a fresh cheese available in the cheese department at Whole Foods Market in Los Altos that is very comparable to yogurt - Petite Suisse.

The picture quality isn't the best, but this is what the product looks like. We do not have the plain version, just the version with fruit added (strawberry, peach and raspberry respectively).

Cheese: Petit Suisse
Producer: Maîtres Laitiers du Cotentin Cooperative
Location: Normandy, France
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: None

This cheese is along the same lines of other fresh cheeses like Fromage Blanc and in this case, cream is added to up the fat content. This creates a wonderfully tasty, unctuous and filling treat. I tried to serve the Petit Suisse like this article ( recommended, but the cheese was a little too soft and ended up like this:

Regardless, it is a fantastic treat. It was first made in Normandy in 1850 when a Swiss employee at a dairy of Auvilliers near Beauvais suggested adding cream to the cured to enrich the flavor of the cheese. Petit Suisse was the result and it contains at least a 40% fat content. Many customers who are mothers like to give these to their kids because they have a slightly higher calorie content, but are still palatable to young children.

I like to indulge in the Petit Suisse because it's a nice little snack that holds me over until my next meal. If you're a fan of yogurt and want to try something a little different, swing by Whole Foods Market in Los Altos and try these little gems!

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Robiola Sapore di Bosco

Good evening!

As I was strolling by the cheese counter last week, I noticed that the "Robiola Sapore di Bosco" was on sale as a featured cheese. When I looked at the cheese, it was not at all what I was expecting to see with a name like "robiola". I'm used to the soft ripened, lovely mixed milk cheeses that we get from Piedmont. But the Robiola Sapore di Bosco is a whole different animal...

Cheese: Robiola di Bosco
Cheesemaker/affineur: Ambrogio Arnoldi
Location: Val Taleggio, Lombardy, Italy
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

This cheese is a washed rind cheese that comes in a petite 4" x 4" format. It looks and tastes a lot like Taleggio - another cheese made in Val Taleggio - but much tinier. Because of its size, the flavors of the washed rind are much more pronounced. I also noticed that it was a bit saltier than I was expecting, but that's again due to its size. The paste is nice and springy, but I'm sure with a little age, would get a touch on the runny side. 

This cheese appeared in our stores at the perfect time! As it's Autumn, the pears and apples are available in abundance and they pair with the Robiola Sapore di Bosco so beautifully! It's also very tasty with cider (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). It's a great deal right now (for the month of October) so be sure to swing by your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter and pick up this tasty cheese. 

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kinsman Ridge from Landaff Creamery

Good evening loyal readers!

After a two month hiatus from my position at Whole Foods Market and the beloved cheese counter, I have returned! I was extremely excited to visit the cheese counter to see what new and yummy cheeses we had on promotion. To my pleasure, I saw that a cheese aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill was on promotion - the Kinsman Ridge from Landaff Creamery!

Cheese: Kinsman Ridge
Cheesemakers: Deb and Doug Erb of Landaff Creamery (aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Vermont)
Location: Landaff, NH
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The milk used at Landaff Creamery comes from Springvale Farm - the farm founded by Doug's parents, Dr. and Mrs. Frederick A. Erb, DVM and taken over by Doug and Deb Erb in 1989. The veterinary office that Doug's father used to occupy is now the cheese making room for Landaff Creamery! Pretty cool right?

The Kinsman Ridge is inspired by St. Nectaire. It is a semi-soft, tomme-style cheese that has a beautiful natural rind. For some reason, I am really drawn to this particular style of cheese. I love the natural rind cheeses that demonstrate the characteristics of the caves in which they are aged. I smelled an earthy, buttery, musty aroma when I unwrapped the Kinsman Ridge. Upon putting a piece in my mouth, I was blown away with the complexity of this cheese. The paste was springy and smooth, with small eyes throughout. It reminded me of a savory, slightly firmer Taleggio without the as much yeast flavor present. I can see how St. Nectaire influenced the cheesemakers in the creation of this cheese, but I wouldn't say the Kinsman Ridge is nearly as funky as the St. Nectaire can be.

The first thing I thought of when I tried the Kinsman Ridge was that I needed to cook with this cheese. I could just taste how unctuous and lovely a macaroni and cheese or fondue would be if made with this cheese. I would also recommend using this cheese on any of your Oktoberfest cheese plates because it would pair very nicely with the myriad German beers that are being featured now.

Most of the cheese counters at the Whole Foods Markets in Northern California and Reno would have the Kinsman Ridge, so be sure to swing by your local WFM cheese counter and ask for a sample. I absolutely loved this cheese and I'm sure you will too!

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fat Bottom Girl - It Makes the Rocking World Go Round

Hello hello hello!

I have returned alive and well! I am now happily married, nicely rested and ready to get back to work! Upon our return from our honeymoon, my wife (!) and I stopped at our local Whole Foods Market to get groceries and some cheese of course. I was very pleased to see that the cheeses from Bleating Heart Cheese had returned to our cheese counter and was quick to grab a couple pieces.

Today I am going to talk about the Fat Bottom Girl, the flagship cheese from Bleating Heart Cheese, because it is one of my favorites and I can completely relate to the name right now. I am definitely a "fat bottomed girl" after not working out like normal, traveling and eating very decadent foods on our honeymoon.

Cheese: Fat Bottom Girl
Cheesemakers: Seana Doughty and Dave Dalton of Bleating Heart Cheese
Location: Tomales, CA
Milk: Raw sheep's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

I absolutely love the story behind how this cheese got its name. Here's the story from their website:

"The cheese's unique whimsical shape began as an accident when cheesemaker Seana was helping out at friend Marcia Barinaga's dairy. Seana had taken some cheeses out of their forms to be flipped, but then had to run out to get ready for the afternoon milking. Upon returning to the creamery, Seana saw the cheeses had flattened a bit under their own weight and were starting to get an asymmetrical shape with a fat bottom. It was a mistake, but it made her laugh. Seana quickly decided that she actually liked this funny look and continued to develop the process, coming up with the correct timing to achieve the desired fat bottom shape. Seana found herself frequently referring to those yet-to-be-named cheeses as "fat bottom girls," which is a song by Queen that had come up on Seana's iPod while working in the creamery. The name stuck." (

When I first unwrapped the cheese, I was hit with one of my favorite aromas - the musty, funky aroma of a washed rind cheese. It was not overly pungent like Morbier or Raclette, but still had the pleasant "tang" that I so love in washed rind cheeses. The paste is a gorgeous ivory with a little touch of yellow closer to the rind and has a wonderfully smooth consistency with little bits of tyrosine crystals throughout.

The flavor of this fantastic cheese portrays all of the good qualities of working with not only sheep's milk, but raw sheep's milk. When you take the first bite, you are met with the nutty, buttery qualities with which we are familiar from sheep's milk. But then you are transported into the world of the sheep whose milk you are enjoying. Depending on the season, you can taste different nuances of the greenery on which these sheep feasted.

I would absolutely pair this cheese with a nice local honey or a Saison farmhouse style ale. The sweetness of the honey would go wonderfully with the nuttiness of the cheese. The slight funk of the Saison would really play nicely with the touch of funk the Fat Bottom Girl has.

Most of the Whole Foods Market cheese counters in the Northern California region (including Reno) should have these cheese available, so be sure to stop by and ask for a sample. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Beauty of Bethmale

Good evening!

For our July promotions, we received another really fun seasonal cheese at our cheese counter that I wanted to feature - Bethmale.

Cheese: Bethmale
Affineur: Hervé Mons
Location: Valley of Bethmale in Pyrenees, France
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

This is another amazing cheese from the caves of Hervé Mons. It is only available during the summer/fall and is quite a treat. I bought a piece from the Santa Rosa store on Yulupa today and when I opened it up, I was met with the slightly funky, barnyard smell typical of washed rinds. The paste is slightly yellow which tells me that the cows were on pasture in the spring when they were milked.

The milk comes from several small, local dairies and when the process of making Bethmale begins, the milk is heated to 86°F, renneted and left for 45 minutes. It is then hand cut and put into a mold with thick cheesecloth. It is first hand pressed, flipped and hand pressed again. A heavy plank is then put on top of the forms overnight to expel more whey. The next morning, the cheese is taken out of the form, the cheesecloth is removed and is salted on one side. The other side will be salted the following day. After this process, the Bethmale is transferred to the maturing caves where it will be aged from 4-8 weeks. It is regularly flipped and washed with a brine solution leading to the pungent, sticky washed rind.

The Hervé Mons team was kind enough to send some little jars of traditional blueberry preserves from the same region as the Bethmale. My oh my, what a treat! 

I did this tasting with my Mom and it maybe took us five minutes to finish all of the cheese. The cheese itself was slightly pungent, but more mushroomy and creamy. I would categorize this cheese as a semi-soft cheese because of its springy paste. So, this means it will melt incredibly well and be a great addition to your cooking. When I put the blueberry preserve over the top, I was completely blown away. The bright, acidic, juicy blueberries with the little bit of sugar along with the earthy, tangy, creamy cheese was an incredibly balanced pairing. The acidity of the blueberries cut the fat in the creamy Bethmale. It was like eating a blueberry cheesecake. Sooooooo incredible.

The Betmale is on sale for the month of July, so be sure to stop by your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter and ask for a sample! I'm sure you're going to love it. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sleeping Beauty from Cascadia Creamery

Happy weekend loyal readers!

I hope your weekend has been treating you well. Today I wanted to talk about a newcomer to my cheese counter - the Sleeping Beauty.

Cheese: Sleeping Beauty
Producer: Cascadia Creamery
Cheesemaker: John Shuman
Location: Trout Lake, WA
Milk: Organic raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Cascadia Creamery is a family run operation and they have revived a long tradition of artisan cheesemaking in the Trout Lake Valley that started almost 125 years ago. The Trout Lake Valley is an ideal location for cheesemaking because of the rich volcanic soil, lush grazing fields and temperate weather. All of the cheeses they make are 100% organic and raw!

The Sleeping Beauty is a natural rind cheese that is wonderfully smooth and elegant. I particularly loved the texture of the paste - it looked like it would be crumbly and dry, when in fact it was smooth and creamy. The natural rind lends some earthiness to the paste and I imagine this cheese would change depending on the season.

I would recommend eating this cheese with some crisp apples or pears and maybe a yummy cider. I could even see a nice light pilsner or pale ale playing nicely with this cheese. I also found a very decadent recipe for Sleeping Beauty Mac n Cheese on my friend Marcella's blog... check it out!

I hope you all get the chance to try this delicious cheese. Be sure to ask for it (and for a sample) at your local cheese counter! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Spice Up Your 4th!

Good evening everyone! Happy (almost) 4th of July!

When I asked my coworker Lucy what cheese I should feature for 4th of July, she immediately said "Scorpion Cheddar! People can burn their tongues as they burn in the sun". This made me laugh, so I decided to go with her advice.

Meet the current pepper cheddar that is the hottest on the market to date....

Cheese: Scorchin' Scorpion Cheddar
Producer: Henning's Wisconsin Cheese
Cheesemaker: Kerry Henning
Location: Kiel, Wisconsin
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)

This cheese is spicy... so spicy that we had to put a sign up warning our customers! I just saw this sign today and I just had to take a picture. I actually wore gloves while I was cutting this cheese and prepping it for this blog post. "This cheese is no joke"!

When you first bite into this cheese, you're lulled by the creamy, cheddar flavor with which we're all so familiar, and then, the heat starts to creep up... I gave a taste to my team members yesterday when we first brought it in and many were fine at first, but every single person was surprised with how spicy the cheddar was. The Scorpion Pepper (a.k.a. Trinidad Moruga Scorpion) has a bit more than 2,000,000 Scoville Units - almost double the spiciness of a Ghost Pepper!!! It's currently listed as the second spiciest pepper in the world.

I took a picture of the inside of the Scorpion Cheddar sticker and the folks at Hennings were nice enough to provide a recipe for some diabolical macaroni and cheese... I haven't tried it myself yet, but it sounds incredible. If you like spicy food, try it!

I would absolutely pair this cheese with a crisp, hoppy double or triple IPA. Try Simtra or Hoparillo from Knee Deep Brewing or Ruination from Stone Brewing. These would all pair very nicely with the Scorpion Cheddar.

We aren't allowed to leave passive samples out for this cheese as it is so spicy, but if you'd like to try it for yourself, ask any of your local Northern California/Reno WFM Cheesemongers and we'd be happy to cut you a sample. I hope everyone has a great 4th!!! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!