Thursday, January 31, 2013

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip

When I think about the Superbowl, I think about wings. When I think about wings, I think about blue cheese dip! So for my Superbowl themed post today I have decided to share with you the recipe that my coworker Ali and I whipped up. Here's what you'll need:

1/4 lb (4oz) of crumbled blue cheese - I used the Buttermilk Blue from Roth Kase
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar - I used white balsamic solely because of the color.
2 tbsp chopped scallions
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Lemon juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

First step is to make your base of the sour cream, mayo, worcestershire and balsamic vinegar.

Be sure to taste the base before adding the rest of the ingredients. Depending on the sour cream and mayo that you use, you may have to add a touch more vinegar. Once you're happy with the base, add in the chopped scallions and parsley.

After that is mixed in nicely, add the crumbled blue cheese.

Be sure and taste taste taste while making this dip as everyone's palate is a little different. I really like a lot of blue cheese, so I added even more blue cheese that what our recipe calls for. Then add the salt and pepper and squeeze in the lemon juice.

And there you have it! A delicious and easy homemade blue cheese dip! We grabbed some of the buffalo flavored chicken meatballs from our meat department and had quite a yummy snack.

If you end up with leftover dip after your Superbowl festivities, you can turn it into a blue cheese dressing just by adding some buttermilk.

I hope you all find this recipe useful and tasty! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Robiola Bosina

As I walked into my cheese cooler today, I noticed that we had gotten a shipment of Robiola Bosina and it is such a wonderful cheese that I wanted to share it with you all!
Cheese: Robiola Bosina
Producer: Caesificio Alta Langa
Location: Bosia, Italy (between Alba and Cortemilia)
Milk: Pasteurized Cow and Sheep
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

This little guy is about 1/2 pound and is really incredibly tasty. The one that I cut into today was a touch on the young side so it wasn't as runny as it can get on the inside. But nonetheless, it was a yummy treat. By having both cow and sheep's milk, you get a rich, sumptuous flavor. At the first bite you get the lactic creaminess from the cow's milk and then it evolves into a more complex nuttiness from the sheep's milk. The rind itself is very thin and lends a slight earthiness to the paste. If you let the Robiola age for a couple of weeks, the paste will be much more oozy with a little more pronounced "funky" (a.k.a. delicious) flavors.

Because this Robiola Bosina was a little young, the paste was still relatively firm. If you let the cheese age a bit in it's whole form, the paste will become much more gooey when you cut into it.
Serve this cheese with some fresh fruit and a nice Italian Pinot Grigio... you won't be disappointed.

Look for a new, fun recipe in my next post just in time for your Superbowl extravanganza. Until then, eat, drink and be happy! And....... GO NINERS!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Cheesy Harmony that is Mélodie

Hello everyone,

Today I wanted to talk about a cheese that I "rediscovered" while attending the American Cheese Society in Raleigh, NC last year. This cheese is the Mélodie from Laura Chenel. When I was cheese buyer for a different Whole Foods location, we brought this baby in when it first came out in 2011. It was and still is so delicious - delicious enough to win 1st place in the "Open Category - made from goat's milk" category at the same conference that I attended.

Cheese: Mélodie
Country of Origin: United States
Producers: Laura Chenel in Sonoma, CA
Milk: Pasteurized goat's milk
Rennet: Microbial
To see a short, fun video on how Mélodie is made, click here:

The Mélodie is named for its resemblance to piano keys with it's black/grey rind and pure white paste. As I've discussed in previous posts, goat's milk does not retain any of the carotenoids that come from the grass they eat. Because of this, their milk is always pure white - not yellowish as seen in most cow and sheep milk cheeses. The black on the rind is actually a layer of vegetable ash that is used as a natural preservative that keeps unwanted bacteria away. The ash is applied right after the cheese wheels are removed from the forms. After a while, the beautiful white bloom breaks through the ash forming the lovely black/grey rind. 

I like this picture because it shows how white the paste is as well as the outline of the vegetable ash and rind.
Tasting the Mélodie today was awesome as always. It is pleasantly goaty, but still lactic, creamy and clean. The flavor is relatively mild yet wonderfully balanced with the creamy goat tang and earthy mushroom from the rind. One of my coworkers had not had the opportunity to try this cheese yet and we tasted it together. He commented on the fact that you could tell that it was goat cheese, but was not overly gamey. He went on to say that he really enjoyed it and I'm sure he will be recommending it to many a customer in the future. 

Pair this cheese with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or as the folks at Laura Chenel suggest, an unoaked California Chardonnay. This would also be a cheese that I serve with plenty of fresh fruit to serve as a clean acidity that would "harmonize" with the creamy, lactic nature of the Mélodie. 

Come by the cheese counter and experience the tastiness of the Mélodie yourself! I hope to see you soon and as always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at or leave a comment below. I appreciate you all for supporting my blog and for helping me reach 2000 views! I'm also pleased to announce that I won a blogging contest through Culture magazine and will be featured as a guest blogger on their blog in February. Keep an eye out! Until then, eat, drink and be happy!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hankering for Harbison

Hello everyone!

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was the other day when I saw we had received a shipment of Harbison. This cheese is not the easiest to get on the West Coast and whenever we do, it's quite a treat!

Cheese: Harbison
Country of Origin: United States
Producers: Andy and Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Aged: 3-6 weeks
Rennet: Traditional

When I unwrap the little package that is Harbison, I can only imagine it calling to me like in the picture above. The cheese itself is a bloomy rind style cheese wrapped in spruce bark that has been harvested from Jasper Hill Farm's woodlands. As you unwrap, you get a whiff of woodsy notes from the bark and hints of mushroom from the rind. It is important to let this cheese come to room temperature because then the interior becomes this unctuous, ooey gooey paste.

For a better picture, I actually just cut the top rind right off, but typically when I'm serving this cheese, I leave it whole. That way you get flavor from the rind as well as the paste.

Yup, that's right folks, I eat this cheese with a spoon! I'm always so impressed with the flavor of this cheese. It is mushroomy and creamy while at the same time being woodsy and floral. It has a complexity of flavors that I do not see much in the bloomy rind category. The paste itself is almost liquid and is so smooth and creamy that I spread it like butter on almost anything.

I especially like this cheese with a nice, hearty red wine. I recently had it with the Ancient Peaks Renegade - a red blend made of Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot from Santa Margarita, CA. The Harbison was not overshadowed by the big flavors of the red but instead played a beautiful harmony with it. Another pairing that I especially like is the Harbison with the Fig and Olive spread from Jimtown Store in Healdsburg, CA. I even wrote about this pairing on my ACS 2012 Award Winning Cheese Plate located here: Harbison got 2nd place in the "Soft Ripened - Open Category made from cow's milk" category and deservedly so. It would have been heresy for me not to include it on my winning cheese plate!

So, if you're up to trying a delicious and tasty cheese, come on by the cheese counter this week or weekend. We'd love to help you fall in love with this cheese! I hope to see you all soon, but until then, eat, drink and be happy!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gameday Snacking with Fontina

Hello folks! First of all, I have to say congratulations to the San Francisco 49ers! They're on their way to the Superbowl! Woohoo! 

During the game today my coworker Ali (our wine specialist/chef extraordinaire) showed me one of her favorite recipes using Fontina d'Aosta and she gave me permission to share it with you.

First, a few words about Fontina d'Aosta. 

Cheese: Fontina d'Aosta 
Country of Origin: Italy
Producers: Farmers and cheesemakers in the Aosta region of Italy following the DOP production regulations. 
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Aged: 4 months
Rennet: Traditional

This cheese is the real Fontina. You may see other fontinas in stores, but look for the name Fontina d'Aosta and know that you are getting the real deal. I absolutely love this cheese. It is fragrant without being overpowering and tastes creamy, earthy, nutty and fruity all at the same time. I like to pair Fontina d'Aosta with fruits like grapes, apples and pears as well as nice, big red wines like Cabs or Barolos. This cheese is known for being a cooking cheese because it melts so beautifully, but don't let this characteristic cause you to  omit it from your cheese plate. You and your guests won't regret it. 

Now to Ali's recipe... Here's what you'll need:
(serves 3-4)

A small cast iron skillet or small ceramic dish
1/2 pound Fontina d'Aosta cubed
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove
1 baguette sliced

The ingredients...
This is the little cast iron skillet we used, about 4 inches in diameter
Preheat oven to 375˚. Cube up Fontina d'Aosta.

Finely chop and combine thyme and rosemary

Slice the garlic clove and place in the skillet (or ceramic cookware). Minced garlic can also be used. 

Combine cheese cubes and herbs.

Place in skillet and into the oven for 10 minutes (keep an eye on it - every oven is different).

After 10 minutes, remove from oven and serve!

This is a wonderful treat and by using fresh herbs the flavors really pop. The team today devoured the dish in less than 5 minutes. We couldn't get enough! Use this recipe for your upcoming Superbowl party and you won't be disappointed. 

As always, come on by the cheese counter for a sample of Fontina d'Aosta to discover how wonderful this cheese is for yourself. I hope to see you soon. Until then, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Benefits of Raw Milk Cheese

Hello everyone!

I'm very excited to be hosting my first Raw Milk Cheese class tomorrow at my store from 12 - 1pm. If you're interested, swing on by! No sign up is necessary.

While I wish every single one of you could attend my class, I know that that is not possible. So, I've decided to give you all a glimpse at the handout that I will be passing out at my class. I've inserted pictures into this post (which won't be included in the handout I pass out tomorrow) since I know several of you just view my blog for the pictures :). Please enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

Raw Milk Cheeses by Leah McFadden, ACS Certified Cheese Professional

*Disclaimer* I am NOT a doctor. I am providing knowledge that I have gleaned from several sources (see endnotes) and while I believe these claims to be true, others may not agree with me. When it comes to yourself and your own diet, please follow what your physician tells you.
What’s the story with raw milk cheeses?
The U.S. government currently prohibits the import of all raw milk cheeses that have not been aged for over 60 days. So that means all of the raw cheeses available to us in the United States are going to be aged. While not a bad thing (any raw milk cheese is better than none), we do not have access to some superb fresh cheeses like Camembert or Brie that are made with raw milk.
Cheesemakers who choose to work with raw milk do so for several reasons. First and foremost, by using raw milk, they are really able to capture the flavors of what the cows/sheeps/goats are eating and surrounded by (i.e. terroir). Raw milk also contains enzymes and bacteria that help produce wonderfully complex flavors that are killed during the pasteurization process. Another argument for using raw milk in cheesemaking is that typically the farms that are using raw milk are “…made on a very small scale with the milk from the maker’s own animals or from neighboring farms, and without factory equipment”. The late Daphne Zepos, a cheese consultant and co-founder of the Cheese of Choice Coalition said, “Such small operations take great care of the health of their animals. Small cheese-makers are very careful (they have to be to survive) and they operate under strict controls. They’re all under the auspices of their dairy inspectors, federal, state, or local. Anybody up and running has to be under some sort of inspection.”[i]

A locally made raw milk cheese from Sacramento valley - Black Butte  Reserve from Pedrozo Dairy. This cheese has a beautiful grassy flavor that would be all but lost if pasteurized.
My experience has been, while not true in all cases, most cheesemakers who use raw milk test their milk more often, have cleaner facilities and have healthier animals altogether. By pasteurizing the milk, the cheesemaker may not be as careful with the milk and the end product because they believe that pasteurization had killed any and all harmful bacteria. The fact of the matter is even after pasteurization, if the facilities where the cheese is made are not clean and sanitary, harmful bacteria can make its way into the cheese. 

A imported raw sheep's milk cheese from France - Roquefort. In order to be called Roquefort, only raw milk may be used.
Westcombe Cheddar, another raw cow's milk cheese but this time from England. Super nutty and flavorful.
A passage that I love from Max McCalman’s book Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager is as follows: “The fundamental fact is that eating raw-milk cheese is not equivalent to drinking raw milk. (If you forget everything else in this chapter, please remember this!) Viewed from a food-safety perspective, the cheesemaking process is nothing more than a series of steps aimed at preserving fermented milk in beneficial (and hopefully delicious) form. In addition to the flavor-giving properties, all those substances developed and/or introduced during cheesemaking – acids, salts, bacteria, molds – have preservative effects: they banish the pathogens and promote the bennies.”[ii]

Possibly one of the most famous raw cow's milk cheeses in the United States, Le Gruyere.
Health benefits of raw milk cheese

Raw milk contains enzymes that help with the digestion of milk. When milk is pasteurized, most of those enzymes are killed causing the milk to be harder to digest and in many cases leading to the all-encompassing ailment of lactose intolerance. By keeping those enzymes alive, even people who have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance can digest the milk more easily. This is more of an argument for raw milk itself and not raw milk cheese because by the time most cheeses are aged 30 days or more, all lactose is gone from the cheese anyway. But the cheese in itself is basically a pre-digested form of milk and most anyone can enjoy it without pain or discomfort (unless of course you have a true dairy allergy).[iii]

The star of my last post, Appenzeller, a raw cow's milk cheese from Switzerland.


I found a lot of information about raw milk cheese on and here is one quote I thought particularly interesting: “The Sunday Times of London, England, reported in 2007 that raw milk contains 10 percent more B vitamins and 25 percent more vitamin C. The heat used during pasteurization may destroy these nutrients along with the flavor and color of the real milk.”[iv]


The aforementioned article goes on to say “U.S. News & World Report reported in March 2009 that consumption of raw milk and cheese made from it may significantly lower the symptoms of allergic reactions such as asthma, hay fever and eczema. Another study published in the May 2007 edition of the journal “Clinical and Experimental Allergy” also states that children consuming raw milk have a reduced risk of asthma and hay fever.”
What about pasteurized milk cheese?

While this handout is primarily about the benefits of eating raw milk cheese, that does not mean that the pasteurized milk cheeses we sell at Whole Foods Market are sub par  Several of my favorite cheeses are made with pasteurized milk (La Tur, Delice de Bourgogne, Petit Agour, etc). The first Core Value of Whole Foods Market is to sell the highest quality natural and organic products we possibly can. In the cheese department, you can rest assured that whether or not the cheese is made with raw or pasteurized milk, you’re getting a high quality product that has met all of the quality standards of Whole Foods Market.

La Tur, one of my favorite cheeses made with pasteurized cow, sheep and goat's milk.
While there is a lot more studying to be done on the health benefits of consuming raw milk cheese, it is my belief that raw milk cheese is good and good for you. It contains all the natural ingredients that the animals ingest, is tested often to ensure safety and is delicious! If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at I’d be happy to answer any of your questions and if I can’t, I’ll find someone who can.

[i] “Oldways and the Cheese of Choice Coalition.” <>
[ii] MacCalman, Max & David Gibbons. Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager. New York, NY: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2009
[iii] Pulugurtha, Shamala. “Health Benefits of Raw Milk.” 28 Apr. 2011.
[iv] Pulugurtha, Shamala. “Health Benefits of Raw Milk.” 28 Apr. 2011.

I hope you enjoyed this semi-scientific post and I look forward to seeing some of you tomorrow. We'll be sampling some pretty delicious raw milk cheeses, so don't miss out! I apologize for the slightly wonky format of this post - I've literally been fighting with it for the last 30 minutes and it just won't fix the way I want it to - so please forgive me.  Look forward to a prettier post next time... until then eat, drink and be happy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Melting Fun with Appenzeller

Hello everyone! I decided that this week leading up to my class on raw milk cheeses that I would feature some of my favorite raw cheeses. Last post I talked about Parmigiano Reggiano (a cheese I can't live without). Today I wanted to talk about Appenzeller...

Cheese: Appenzeller
Producers: Farmers from the semicantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden as well as in parts of cantons of St. Gallen and Thurgau.
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Aged: 3-4 months
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Appenzeller is quite a tasty cheese. I describe it to my customers as the spicy Swiss cheese. When you cut into a wheel of Appenzeller you immediately can smell that this is a washed rind cheese by the tangy, pungent scent it gives off. While it is aging, the cheesemakers treat the outside with a secret herbal brine which gives the cheese its spicyness. When you first taste Appenzeller it starts off very subtle almost like an Emmenthaler (the original Swiss cheese) and then as the cheese warms up in your mouth it develops a fruity, tangy, spicy flavor - quite an experience.

One of the attributes of Appenzeller is that it melts really well, so I decided to provide you all with another fun recipe using this cheese. Today I made Melty Proscuitto and Appenzeller Crackers. A perfect finger food for the upcoming football games. Enjoy!

Here's what you'll need:
(makes 16 crackers)
6 oz Appenzeller cheese shredded
1 oz Proscuitto sliced (more if you're feeling generous)
16 sturdy crackers

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then start to lay out the crackers on a cookie or baking sheet.

All the ingredients you need...

Then place slices of proscuitto on the crackers.

Cover with shredded Appenzeller.

Place the pan in the oven for about 6-7 minutes (keep an eye on it!). You'll want the cheese to be melted, but not too brown or crispy.

You can freshen it up a bit with little bits of parsley or another garnish if you'd like. The people on my team that were able to try them thought these were really yummy. And it only took me about 15 minutes!

If you want unadulterated Appenzeller, try eating it with grapes or apples. The tangyness plays nicely with the fruity acidity of the grapes or apples. I have also added Appenzellers to my fondue to give more of a kick.

I hope you all enjoy the recipe! Have fun this week and don't work too hard. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The King of Cheese! Parmigiano Reggiano

Hello everyone!

For the last few days, I have been prepping for a raw cheese class that I will be teaching on Saturday, January 19 and as a result, I have been thinking a lot about raw cheese! I promise that there will be a very in depth post in the near future about the health benefits of raw cheeses and other arguments for raw milk cheese, but I want to get my class all squared away first before I share with all of you. So, in thinking about raw milk cheeses, I realized that I had not posted about one of the most famous raw milk cheeses of all - Parmigiano Reggiano...

The basics -

Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano
Producers: Farmers from Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna (to the west of the Reno River), and Montova (to the east of the Po River).
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Aged: 18+ months
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Parmigiano Reggiano has the PDO label, which means it has a Protected Designation of Origin. Basically, this is a trademark. In order to be called Parmigiano Reggiano, the cheese must be produced in certain regions (listed above), must be made by the recipe used since the Renaissance, and it must be approved by the Consortium (or in Italian, consorzio). Anything else that is called Parmesan is just an imitation of Parmigiano Reggiano. As for the Consortium, they are no joke. While the wheels are ageing, the people at the Consortium are constantly tasting the cheese and using little hammers to knock on the outside of the cheese to ensure that they sound alright. Every wheel is branded with: the inscription Parmigiano Reggiano, the inscription DOP (PDO, but in Italian), the inscription Consorzio Tutela as well as the identifying number of the dairy, and the production month and year. If after testing the cheese and it is not up to snuff, these identifying markers are scratched off, the cheese is grated and sold as Parmesan. The Consortium is also responsible in making sure that no one else uses the name (or trademark) Parmigiano Reggiano. Because of this, the consumer knows that they are getting the actual, superior Parmigiano Reggiano. For more information, visit

One of the best experiences I have as a cheesemonger is breaking into one of these 80 pound wheels. We use special tools to cut into the thick rind and crack the wheel open. Once the wheel is cracked in half, you are rewarded with a beautiful nutty and fruity fragrance. If ever you have the opportunity to see a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cracked, be sure to ask for a sample from the heart. The is the part of the cheese that is in the absolute middle - the furthest from the rind - and has the richest, most decadent flavor. It is especially tasty after being freshly cracked and being exposed to the air for the first time in around two years. I use this cheese in many things, but being Italian, I almost always use it in my pasta dishes. 

A fun event that is coming up in March is the annual Whole Foods Market "Crack Heard Round the World". This is a day where every single Whole Foods specialty department - everywhere, including the UK, Canada and all of the US - crack a wheel (or two) of Parmigiano Reggiano at the same time. It is a really super fun event with lots of samples of freshly cracked parm. Be sure to keep an eye out for this event coming up in March. At our store last year I had two rock star cheesemongers - Ryan and Manny - race against each other and see who could crack their wheel the fastest. It was so much fun! Check out the video here: I'm the one doing the countdown at the beginning :) (I couldn't figure out a way to get this video as a separate link so I had to link it through Facebook... you'll need to have a Facebook account to view this video.) You can tell in the video that we really had a blast with this event. 

Well, that's all I have for now. I'm going to be attending a Meet Your Molds class tomorrow in Novato through the California Artisan Cheese Guild that I am so excited about! Hopefully I'll be able to pass on some wonderful moldy, cheesy goodness to you all. Until then, eat, drink and be happy!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

One of Many Guilty Pleasures - La Tur

When people ask me what my favorite cheese is, I often respond with the familiar statement "that's like choosing your favorite child!" But when I am forced to answer this question, 9 times out of 10 I say La Tur. 

Here are the basics -

Cheese: La Tur
Producer: Caesificio Alta Langa
Location: Bosia, Italy (between Alba and Cortemilia)
Milk: Pasteurized Cow, Sheep and Goat
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

When La Tur is being made, the milk is pasteurized at a low temperature but for a longer time so it still meets the requirements for pasteurization. By using this form of pasteurization, a lot of the natural (good) bacteria that lends flavor to the cheese is allowed to live and the milk does not come away with the cooked flavor of the high temperature, short time pasteurization. After the curds are ready, they are carefully placed into their forms (the curds must be treated very gently or else the curds start to break and lose a lot of their moisture). Once the cheese has taken the proper shape, it is taken out of the form and allowed to age for 15 days before being shipped out for sale. The cheese comes wrapped in a cupcake like wrapper and is encased in a plastic tub in order to allow this fragile cheese to continue maturing as well as breathing while being shipped all over the world. The rind on the outside is pretty wrinkly due to the Geotricum used during the cheesemaking process. 

This particular wheel I photographed was close to being perfectly ripe. The outside was very sticky and gooey (see how it sticks to the wrapper) and when I cut it in half, it still had a little firmness, but was close to being completely soft. If I were to let this come to room temperature (the proper temperature at which to eat cheese), it would get even softer... yum!

The taste of this cheese is nothing short of an experience. The smell is almost on the pungent side with grassy and floral notes. By using all three milks, you get many nuances of flavor. As you scoop in (I often eat this cheese with a spoon - but crackers or bread work just as well), you are first hit with the luscious creaminess of the cow's milk, followed by the earthy, nuttiness of the sheep's milk and finishes with the slight tang of the goat's milk. All together you get a lactic, unctuous, grassy, beautiful flavor. This cheese is  rich, yet balanced and pairs beautifully with a variety of wines. My personal favorite is a Moscato d'Asti - the effervescence cuts through the cream while the slight sweetness sings with the floral, grassy notes of the cheese. 

I chose to write about this cheese today because one of my amazing team members - Jacqueline - recommended that I write about La Tur as it is a cheese that is loved by both of us. It was also Jacqueline's last day in my department today and I decided that this post would be a tribute to her dedication to the department and her team. Thank you for everything that you have done Jacqueline, you will be missed! Good luck on your next adventure. :)

As always, if you would like a sample of the La Tur or any of the other cheeses that I have written about, please stop by the cheese counter! We'd love to talk to you about cheese and give you a taste or two. I hope to see you all in the near future. Until then, eat, drink and be happy!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My New Year's Resolution - Eat More Cheese!

Hello everyone!

Thank you for your patience as I slowly recovered from my flu. I am feeling 100% better today and I couldn't wait to get to my blog! As promised, I am going to talk about some of the health benefits of eating cheese. I want to preface this post with this one fact - I AM NOT A DOCTOR. When it comes to your health and diet, you need to listen to your doctor, not me - your local cheese enthusiast :). 

That being said, most of my knowledge surrounding this subject comes from Max McCalman's' wonderful book - Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager. I used this book as my main source of studying for my Certified Cheese Professional exam and I must say, Mr. McCalman knows his stuff. If you're a food nerd like me, you really need to check this book out. It's chock full of incredible cheese information. 

Max McCalman's book that I quote throughout this post. Buy it and read it!
His first chapter of the book is dedicated to the fact that "cheese is good - and good for you". In fact, that is the title of the first chapter :). Cheese in and of itself is a wonderfully dense and nutritious food. To quote Max, "A 4-ounce piece of solid farmhouse cheese, for example, supplies more than half the adult nutritional requirements for protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus as well as significant portions of vitamins A, B2, and B12. If you compare the nutritional content of a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) chunk of a hard, aged cheese such as Cheddar or Emmental to an equivalent amount of chicken eggs (two eggs are about 100 grams), the cheese contains about twice as much protein and one quarter the cholesterol." (McCalman 20) The two vital things that humans need to survive that cheese does NOT have is fiber and vitamin C. If you use cheese as your main source of fat and protein, you will be better off than using eggs or meat because you're getting more nutrients per ounce. If you're looking for a little more proof, look at the Mediterranean diet - "...olive oil, wine, plenty of fruit and vegetables, less meat, more whole grains and nuts, some fish and espouses the notion of 'more is less'. It is interesting to note that three of the world's highest per capita cheese-consuming countries - Greece, Italy, and France - have some of the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease and some of the longest-lived populations." (McCalman 22) Pretty interesting right?

A lot of customers come to my counter and lament about the fact that they can't eat cheese because it is so high in fat. The key here folks is moderation. I know that a lot of people do not like this word, but I consider myself a pretty fit individual and I eat a lot of cheese. But to balance this out, I don't eat as much meat and I try to eat lots and lots of fruits and vegetables to provide the fiber and vitamin C that I need. If you view cheese as a protein source and you are aware of your portions - you should be okay. One other fun fact is that cheese has been already partially digested for you by the bacteria and enzymes that help create the wonderful textures and tastes of the cheese. This is why most cheeses that have been at least slightly aged are easier to digest - even if you're lactose intolerant!

Now I know that all of this information sounds great, but I do want to give you a few words of advice before you go and gorge yourself on cheese. First, it is very easy to eat a lot of cheese is one sitting. Don't! Listen to your body when you eat cheese. Your body will let you know when it's satisfied and no matter how tasty the cheese is, you can always come back for more a different day. I've found that if I have an assortment of a 3-4 cheeses and I cut myself a 1 oz piece of each, I'm more than satisfied after finishing those cheeses.

While more than 3-4 cheeses, these pieces are about 1 oz size pieces. I used this plate while preparing for a wine and cheese pairing class that I was going to be teaching.  

Also, keep in mind from one of my previous posts that a 1 oz piece of a triple creme cheese and a 1 oz piece of a harder cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano have a very different level of fat. According to the label, the triple creme cheese has 75% butterfat while the Reggiano only has 35% butterfat. But you must keep in mind that these percentages are based on solid content... not total weight. Since the triple creme has more water activity, it actually does not have more fat than the same weight of Reggiano. The Reggiano has barely any water activity so you're actually getting more fat per ounce there than in a triple creme. Crazy huh? So make sure that you keep this in mind when eating hard or soft cheeses.

Parmigiano Reggiano
Delice de Bourgogne - a triple creme cheese
While I find this information very fascinating, this may be one of my more wordy/boring posts to you and for that I apologize. I hope you learned at least a little something that you didn't know before from this post. If you want to learn more about this topic, please read Max McCalman's book that I referenced above - it really is amazing. If you have any questions regarding any of this information, please leave a comment or email me at 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Look for my next post soon. Until then, eat, drink and be happy!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Don't worry - more to come!

Hello everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe New Years. My new year greeted me with the flu, so I have be fighting that off the last couple of days. Needless to say, that means I have not been around my beloved cheeses so as not to spread my germs. But I didn't want you all to worry, so I'm going to give you a preview on what some of my upcoming posts will be about...

- The health benefits of eating cheese: believe it or not, cheese is a great nutrition source and those who include it in their diet (in moderation) tend to be healthier! I'll be borrowing information from Max McCalman's book: Mastering Cheese - Lessons for True Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager - one of the main cheese books I used to study for my Certified Cheese Professional Exam this last year.

- The differences between raw and pasteurized milk cheeses and the battle between them. (I will also be teaching a class on this subject this month at my store.) 

- And as always, features on my favorite cheeses that I come across at my cheese counter.

I hope that you all will bear with me as I recover from this dastardly bug and look for my next post in the next couple of days or so.

Until then, eat, drink and be happy! (While I'm sick, someone has to do it!)