Friday, July 25, 2014

Willoughby

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had an incredible week. I'm definitely excited for the weekend to begin. Last week when I was visiting the cheese counter at my local Whole Foods, I noticed that a cheese of which I am a HUGE fan, was on special. I really have no problem paying full price for good cheese, but it is always a nice surprise when one of your favorites is on sale. The cheese I'm referring to is the Willoughby.



Cheese: Willoughby
Producer: Originally Marisa Mauro at Ploughgate Creamery but has been adopted by the folks at Jasper Hill Creamery
Location: Greensboro, Vermont
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)


It had been a while since I had tasted the Willoughby, but I remembered that I really loved this cheese and my memory served me correctly. It is a washed rind cheese that isn't super stinky and has a really great flavor. The rind is very thin, so it doesn't pass on a huge amount of flavor, but it does add to the slightly funky deliciousness.The paste has a fruity, creamy flavor which is a perfect balance to the slightly tangy rind.


I've seen the paste described as "pudding-like" and I think that describes the cheese perfectly. It is relatively firm for a small washed-rind cheese (only 8 ounces!) and maintains shape very well. As it gets closer to room temperature, it does soften up quite a bit, but you won't see it oozing all over your cheese plate.

The Willoughby pairs very well with a lighter bodied red such as Pinot Noir or Merlot. Other folks who has reviewed this cheese also recommend Saisons if you're in a beer mood.

This cheese is on sale at any of the Northern California/Reno stores now and the promotion will only last for a few more days. Don't miss out! Go to your nearest WFM cheese counter and grab a wheel today. You will not be disappointed. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

p.s. I have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to get Shootin' the Bries, LLC up and running! If you'd like to donate, please visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1613925428/shootin-the-bries-llc-cheese-catering-and-consulti

Thank you!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nobile di Capra

Good afternoon!

One of the things I miss most about being behind the cheese counter everyday is being able to try all of the new cheeses that come through. I often get to try cheeses in a small sample format, but it is never the same as when you have a whole wheel or log and you cut into it and try a nice, fresh piece. By doing that, you really get to see what the character of the cheese is like and how things like the rind and/or paste interact to create the unique flavor of the cheese.

This is one of those instances... I went into the San Jose Whole Foods location a couple of days ago and had forgotten about a few of the really neat and tasty cheeses that we had on promotion for the month of July. The Nobile di Capra was one of those cheeses.


Cheese: Nobile di Capra (also known as Nababbo)
Producer: CasArrigoni
Location: Peghera, a city in the Bergamo province of Italy
Milk: Pasteurized goat's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The Nobile di Capra is a washed rind, goat's milk cheese very similar to Taleggio. It is even made in the same region as Taleggio! The milk is produced by a neighboring farm which CasArrigoni takes to create this wonderful cheese. The cheese is formed, washed and aged under the expert eyes of the Arrigoni family.


When brought to room temperature, this cheese is extremely soft. It doesn't ooze or spread all over the table - it instead holds its shape but once you take a bite, it virtually disintegrates on your tongue It is meaty, yeasty, salty and not very goaty or stinky at all. If you've never tried a washed rind cheese or a goat cheese before, this may be a good one to start with. The flavors are very pleasing and the texture is nice and smooth.

There are many wonderful pairings out there for this cheese. Many people recommend white wines (typically Sauvignon Blancs) with goat cheeses, but for this cheese, I went with a red. The bottle we opened was a lovely Tempranillo. It worked well with the cheese because it rounded out the slight end of the barnyard flavor from the wash. While not the best pairing I've ever had, it was pleasant.

Other wines that would work would be Zinfandel or Chenin Blanc. If you're a beer person, a Belgian style Saison or Trappist beer would also be good options.

This cheese is on promotion right now at all Northern California/Reno Whole Foods locations, so be sure to swing by your closest WFM cheese counter and have a taste.

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cotswold - America's Favorite British Cheese!

Good evening loyal readers!

I apologize for the absence - I enjoyed a nice vacation in Cancun with my sisters. Now I'm back to real life and that means more cheese! Today I decided to write about a staple cheese that almost every single cheese counter in most grocery stores carry - Cotswold.


Cheese: Cotswold
Producer: Long Clawson
Location: Leicestershire, England
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Vegetarian

 
Cotswold is Double Gloucester (http://www.shootinthebries.blogspot.com/2013/03/double-gloucester-english-classic.html) made with chives and onion. It was one of the first blends made by Clawson in the 1970s and is named after the picturesque region in England of the same name where the traditional villages have not changed in over 200 years.

 
 

Cotswold is by far one of the most popular cheeses that we carry at our cheese counters. Whenever I would sample this cheese out, people would go crazy for it! It is creamy and flavorful, similar to cheddar, but with an added zing of the chives and onions. You can eat it plain, melted over potatoes, grated on top of your chili or whatever you like! Cotswold is extremely versatile and just plain tasty. As it is considered a pub cheese, I recommend enjoying this cheese with a nice mug of beer.

You can find Cotswold in almost any grocery store - I know for a fact that all Whole Foods in the Northern California/Reno region carry it. Be sure to swing on by and ask for a sample! You'll be glad you did... Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

All Things Chimay - Beer and Cheese!

Hello everyone,

I can't believe June is almost over! Time flies when you're having fun I suppose...

I know I recently blogged about one of the Chimay cheeses from Belgium, but I was sent a wonderful sample package from the folks who represent Chimay. After receiving the lovely package, I decided I would talk about all three of the Chimay cheeses we offer at many of the Whole Foods Markets in NorCal and Reno and pair them up with the corresponding beers.

I'll try to keep this post as straightforward as possible... here we go!

The following information on the cheese applies to all three:

Producers: The Trappist monks of Scourmont Abbey
Location: Near Chimay, Belgium
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

 
 
First up, the Chimay Grand Reserve. This is a cheese washed with the beer of the same name. It is definitely the most mellow of the three cheeses. Just a little stinky with a very soft, buttery paste. I would use this cheese in a fondue or baked pasta.
 
The beer itself is nice and flavorful, velvety and slightly sweet (like many Belgian beers). Lots of yeast and malt. When paired with the cheese, the two combine into a harmonious, almost caramel flavor. It was very pleasant.
 
 
 

Next, we have the Chimay Dore Gold. The recipe for this cheese has been kept under lock and key for generations and is now just recently available to the public. This cheese was made in honor of a beer (called Dore Gold) that was a secret beer consumed only by the monks at the monastery. The flavor is decadent, yet fresh. While being slightly stinky, it has aromas of hops and flavors of grass. It is washed with the Chimay Dorée beer which is not always available, so I stuck with the color theme and used the Chimay Tripel.
 
The Chimay Tripel is a bit lighter, fruitier and more acidic than the other two. Definitely the beer I prefer out of the three when it's by itself. When paired with the Chimay Dore Gold, the fruity acidity of the beer mixes with the creamy funk of the cheese to create a light and almost airy pairing. It was a new sensation for me when it came to pairings. Quite intriguing.
 
 
Last, but not least, we have the Chimay a la Primère washed with the beer of the same name. To me, this cheese has a more robust flavor with a touch more funk. It is soft and creamy like the other two, just a tad stinker... I loved it. Putting this onto a burger would be killer!
 
As for the beer, it is a bit more syrupy with lots of dark fruit flavors. It is slightly sweet, but not over the top. To me, this was the best pairing of the three. The cheese had enough flavor to stand up to the complexity of the beer and the sweetness of the beer balanced out the funk of the cheese. Truly a match made in heaven - and I would hope so! Especially since the cheese is washed in the same beer...
 
 
All in all it was a great evening of beer and cheese, laughter and conversation with my girlfriend and my best friend. Photo cred goes to my beautiful girlfriend who graciously offered to take pictures with her higher quality camera phone :).
 
These cheeses may not be available at every Whole Foods Market, but when you see one, be sure to ask for a taste! You might even get lucky and find the Chimay beer to pair with it. I hope that is the case for you all. That's all I have for you tonight! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert

Good afternoon everyone,

I hope you all are having a wonderful week. Today I wanted to talk about one of the cheeses we have on promotion this month at the Northern California/Reno Whole Foods locations that is incredible but sometimes gets overlooked - the Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert.


 
Cheese: Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert
Producer: Old Chatham Sheepherding Co
Location: Old Chatham, New York
Milk: Pasteurized sheep and cow's milk
Rennet: Vegetarian

The cheese is named after the Nancy Clark, one of the owners of Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. The farm is the largest sheep dairy in the United States with over 1200 East Friesian sheep. They take great care of their sheep and as a result they produce fantastic milk which makes phenomenal cheese. They get the cow's RBGH free milk from a neighboring farm.


When you unwrap your piece of Nancy's Camembert, you know straightaway that this cheese is going to be gooey deliciousness. Even while still cold from refrigeration, the cheese is soft and spreadable. The consistency reminds me of a triple crème cheese like the Brillat Savarin. It is buttery, rich and smooth with a little touch of umami from the rind. I spread it on one of the Simple & Crisp Pear slices... just a simple dried piece of pear to be used as a cracker substitute. It was incredible. I then drizzled some local honey on top of my next piece and enjoyed a crisp glass of Deccolio Prosecco. It was divine.

Other cheeses featured: L'Alveare (top left) and Moses Sleeper (top right).


This cheese is currently on sale for the month of June, so be sure to swing by your local WFM cheese counter and try a taste. If you're curious about the Simple & Crisp fruit slices (they come in pear, apple and orange varieties), I took a picture of the packaging below:



I should mention that these products are new to our region and as a way to create some excitement, we have them at a special low price! Pick up a package today, they're incredible!

Well, that's all I have for today. I hope you all have a great rest of your week. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Featuring Grand Cru Surchoix for National Cheese Day!

Hello everyone!

I found out from friends that today was National Cheese Day and I was so unprepared! As I didn't have a particular cheese picked out, I decided to go with the cheese that I had in my refrigerator - the Grand Cru Surchoix from Emmi Roth.

I've talked about this cheese briefly before in a blog post back in November of 2012 here http://www.shootinthebries.blogspot.com/2012/11/a-winning-cheese-plate.html but it has never had a post of its own. As it won 3rd Best in Show at the 2012 American Cheese Society Conference, I figured it deserved its own post.

 

Cheese: Grand Cru Surchoix
Producer: Emmi Roth USA
Location: Monroe, WI
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The name "Surchoix" means that this batch of cheese is the best and by far, a cut above the rest. The folks at Emmi Roth USA take great care in choosing which wheels of their Grand Cru line will be aged for 5+ months longer to be made into the Grand Cru Surchoix. The original wheels are aged around 4 months, the reserve wheels are aged for at least 6 months and the Surchoix wheels are aged for at least 9 months. Allowing the cheese to age this long really helps to develop some complex flavors that you wouldn't see as pronounced in the younger versions of the Grand Cru.


The cheese is an Alpine style washed rind cheese that is made with a similar recipe to that of the Swiss Le Gruyere. I've been inside of the massive aging rooms at the Emmi Roth facility in Monroe, WI and it is quite impressive to see how many wheels of cheese they are able to make! But even with the volume of cheese they create, they still take such precious care of each and every wheel. The wheels are washed and turned regularly, and each batch has a "tester" wheel that is plugged and tasted at various stages of aging. They definitely take the quality of their cheese seriously.

Today is the first time I've tasted the Grand Cru Surchoix in quite a while and I was reminded of how wonderful this cheese really is. When you take your first bite, you are greeted with the contrasting textures of the creamy paste and the crunchy tyrosine crystals. You taste the buttery, caramel-y richness that develops into an incredible nutty, mushroomy flavor. I definitely had my fair share this evening... oops!

Tonight we had a zinfandel blend from Ridge Vineyards (the Three Valleys) with the cheese and it was quite a nice pairing. The wine was slightly jammy, so it gave the light sweetness that pairs so nicely with cheeses that have a little more age on them. I also have had this cheese with some salami from Creminelli (the Wild Boar and the Tartufo) which were incredible pairings as well. The Surchoix is also a fantastic melting cheese, so try using it with your next batch of fondue or macaroni and cheese...

That's all I have for you tonight. I apologize for not being better prepared for National Cheese Day, but at least I was able to feature an incredibly tasting cheese like the Grand Cru Surchoix. This cheese should be available at most of the Northern California Whole Foods cheese counters, so be sure to go in and ask for a taste soon. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Franklin's Teleme - Shootin' the Bries' 100th Post!!!

Hello everyone!

It excites me to tell you all that this official is the 100th post of Shootin' the Bries. What a ride it has been! Looking over the past posts, I'm very proud to see how much information I was able to provide regarding many of your favorite cheeses. Please feel free to email me at shootinthebries@gmail.com if you ever have a specific request and I'll look into blogging about that particular cheese!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to quickly tell you about a new venture I am pursuing. As a side project, I have started a small cheese catering/consulting company called, you guessed it, Shootin' the Bries, LLC. I can build cheese platters, do beverage parties and even be a guest speaker/hostess at your next cheese party. If you'd like to check out the services I have to offer, please check out www.shootinthebries.com. I'm super excited about the opportunity to share my love of cheese with even more people!

For my 100th post, I thought it would be fun to feature a local cheese that many hold near and dear to their heart - Franklin's Teleme.


 
Cheese: Franklin's Teleme (original and washed)
Producer: Franklin Peluso at Mid Coast Cheese Company
Location: Los Banos, CA
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)
 

The Teleme was discovered accidentally in the 1900s when a Greek cheesemaker in Pleasanton was trying to make Feta. Instead of the firm, crumbly feta, the cheesemaker was left with the soft, oozy goodness of the Teleme that is all so familiar.

Rice flour is used to dust the outside of the original Teleme and then the cheese is allowed to age for about two weeks. During this time, the rind firms up leaving the interior slightly spongy. Over time the interior becomes softer and softer... I left the cheese out for about 20 minutes before serving and if you look above, the original Teleme was oozing off of the plate. Delightful!

The flavor of the original Teleme is very mild with a little lemon-like acidity. Very similar to a Taleggio without the washed rind. You really can taste the quality of the milk used in this cheese as it is not aged for very long and the flavors you are getting are mostly from the milk itself. Many people like to use the Teleme on polenta, risotto or even pizza! It's a fantastic, versatile cheese that almost everyone will enjoy.


Now, Mid Coast Cheese Company recently (within the last year or so) introduced a washed rind version of the Teleme. My oh my, what a delectable experience. This is even closer to a Taleggio than the original is. The aroma is pungent but the flavor is still pretty mild, just with a bit more character. When the cheese is first made, it spends a few hours in a salt brine and then is aged for about a month while being continuously washed with a brine solution.

The end result is incredible. I really couldn't get enough of this cheese. Doing a side by side tasting was especially interesting because you could see the flavors of the milk in the original Teleme develop into really interesting nuanced flavors in the washed rind version. Personally I prefer the washed rind Teleme, but I'm a sucker for stinky cheeses....

As for pairings, I would have a nice Viognier with the original Teleme or a crisp Belgian Pale with the washed rind version. Both are FANTASTIC cooking cheeses that melt almost instantly and add a creamy deliciousness to any dish you are serving.

That's all for now, thank you for being such loyal readers! Cheers to 100 posts and many more to come. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

p.s. Photo cred goes to my girlfriend Lynn who stepped in a took some nice pictures before the cheeses oozed completely off of the plate! Thank you honey!