Friday, April 26, 2013

Consider Bardwell's Rupert

Good day everyone,

As promised, here is a post on Rupert from Consider Bardwell. Thank you Poul for sharing this cheese with me! :)

Cheese: Rupert
Producer: Consider Bardwell
Region: Champlain Valley, Vermont
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)

My team and I got to try this amazing cheese this morning. It gets its name from Rupert, Vermont - one of the oldest towns in the state - because it is the cheese that is aged the longest at Consider Bardwell Farm. It is based on the Alpine style cheeses like Gruyere and Comte but is unique in that the milk used is Jersey milk. The Rupert is very creamy with a nice smooth paste with tyrosine crystals sprinkled throughout. I got a lot of sweet nuttiness as well as some fruity floral notes. I could see myself using this cheese as a table cheese or as a melting cheese (try in your next fondue!).

While I was tasting this cheese I happened to have my green tea close by. After trying the cheese, I reached for my tea out of habit, took a sip, and was blown away! The floral notes in the tea really accentuated the floral notes in the cheese bringing it to a whole other level. I love it when I find accidental delicious pairings, especially with things I wouldn't necessarily think go together.

Unfortuantely this is not a cheese that is accessible to me at the moment, but if you have a chance to visit the East Coast, make sure you stop by a local farmer's market and pick up this cheese or any of the other delicious offerings that Consider Bardwell has to offer. You won't be disappointed.

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New York, New York!

Hello everybody!

I'm so sorry for the brief absence. I actually took myself on a little trip to the East Coast these past few days to visit some friends as well as some cheese shops! In this post I'm going to share some pictures and some stories, but for my next post (which will be in a day or so) I will be talking about a cheese from Consider Bardwell Farm in Vermont. I happened to meet up with my friend Poul who works for the farm at the farmer's market in Union Square yesterday before I left and he hooked me up with one of their cheeses. I figured it was only fair that I feature it on my next post! So stay tuned... :)

I flew into New York on Thursday and due to various delays didn't get in until very late... so I'll start my trip diary off on Friday. Friday morning I first headed over the the Whole Foods Market in TriBeCa. I happen to be friends with the Specialty Team Leader there, so I figured that this would be a good place to start. Here are some pictures...

At this store they have a killer full service case... I was very jealous of their selection!

They also offered a great selection a pre-cut cheeses

I had to take a shot of this chalkboard, one of my favorite goat goudas from Cypress Grove and the chalkboard was awesome!

A cool new venue that they added that day, bulk pasta! I hope that this is something we can bring to the West Coast. 
From the TriBeCa store, I headed over to the Bowery Whole Foods on Bowery and Houston. The picture below doesn't really do it justice, but as I was walking to the store, I caught a glimpse of the Empire State Building down the road and being the tourist that I was, decided to take a not-so-great picture of it. :)

I didn't really get too many good shots of their cheese case, but I did take a couple of pictures of some of the fun things the Bowery location had to offer...

That's right - a pickle bar!! So awesome...

And some shots of their separate store dedicated solely to beer and beer accessories.

They also had a cool pop up venue there that featured a certain type  food or restaurant for a limited amount of time and I got to experience the Shoyu Ramen.... simply divine. 

The next day I headed over to the Essex Street Market.

There I was able to visit Formaggio Essex and try a delectable Robiola wrapped in leek... so tasty! Thanks Andrew! And I also walked by the Saxelby Cheese Counter and while I didn't get a picture, was very impressed with the wonderful selection that was available in such a small space!

Next, I headed over to Union Square to visit the Whole Foods Market there.

This Whole Foods had their cheese counter downstairs. Here is a picture of their full service case...

Again, I was very impressed with the selection in this case as well as what they had in their pre-cut case. I then went and visited the Bedford Cheese Shop and Beecher's New York. Both shops were incredible and I was blown away by the service. Everyone that I talked to in those two shops really knew their stuff.

And here are some fun touristy shots of Union Square and Times Square...

Yes, that is a cowboy playing his guitar in his underwear... 
Before I made it all the way to Times Square, I did get a chance to pop in to the Chelsea Whole Foods, but I didn't take any pictures... *sigh*. After that I met up with some of my friends and danced the night away... I really can't believe that bars are open until 4am!!

On Sunday, I started off my day with a nice run through Brooklyn Bridge Park...

After showering and stuffing my face, I headed over to Murray's Cheese shop. I only got a picture of the storefront because it was pretty crowded in there, but they had a nice selection as well as a cool new-ish grilled cheese bar.

When I was done touring Murray's I made my way over to Eataly, an awesome Italian market on 5th Avenue. Here are some pictures...

A small sampling of their cheese selection
Their stunning meat counter
Watching them make fresh pasta..
And fresh pasta to buy by the pound!
They also had several restaurants, wine tastings, produce, charcuterie, gelato, espresso... pretty much anything Italian, they had it and then some. I would have spent a lot more time there, but it was so crowded! Definitely worth another visit the next time I head to New York and I will be sure to visit on a weekday.

After Eataly, I headed over to Central Park. I had been saving my visit to Central Park for Sunday because the weather was supposed to be the nicest and boy, was it ever! Here are some pictures...

Now I know that I am not the best photographer in the world, but I thought these were alright. After meandering through the park I headed to the Columbus Circle Whole Foods and made myself comfortable at their Tap Room. I had a Cuban hot dog with a really tasty double IPA. Again, I totally forgot to take pictures (I'm a terrible blogger!!) but it was quite a store... I don't think I've ever seen another Whole Foods as crowded as this one was!

After that I ended my evening with a couple beers with my friends and called it a night.

Monday was my last day in New York and I made sure to make it over to Union Square again to meet up with my friend Poul from Consider Bardwell. I tasted their Rupert and as promised, this will be the cheese I talk about in my next post. After grabbing a quick coffee with Poul, I headed over to Washington Square.

I spent an hour or so wandering around and people watching but then I unfortunately had to say good bye to the city and head over to the airport. I got in late last night and while I was very happy to sleep in my own bed, I already miss it over there and can't wait to visit again!

Thank you to all of my friends who made my trip so memorable! You guys are amazing and I can't wait to see you again!

To my loyal readers, I apologize again for the brief absence, but I hope this diary makes up for it a little... I'll be back in the next day or so with a post on Rupert! Until then, eat, drink and be happy!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013


Good day loyal readers!

The more I write about cheese the more I realize how many cheeses I have yet to discuss! I was behind the cheese counter today and was cutting one of our most popular cheeses - Parrano - and I realized that I have not yet blogged about it! So here goes...

Cheese: Parrano
Producer: Uniekaas
Region: Holland
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Parrano is a Gouda that is pretty unique because the cheesemakers that created this cheese used traditional Gouda cultures as well as cultures from Parmigiano Reggiano. When you taste Parrano, you really get a sense of the combination of Gouda and Parmigiano. You get creamy, buttery-ness from the Gouda cultures and nutty, fruity flavors from the Parmigiano Reggiano cultures.

When thinking about what to put on your next cheese plate, be sure to consider Parrano. It is a well known cheese that most everybody loves. I particularly like it with apples or with a nice, crisp pilsner. Lagunitas Pils is the first one to come to mind... mmmm... tasty! Parrano is also a fantastic melting cheese. Put it on a pizza, melt it into your macaroni and cheese, spice up your fondue or whatever else you can think of!

Because of the popularity of this cheese, we almost always have samples out for it. If you don't see a bowl of samples out, ask for one! We'd be happy to give you a taste.

I'd also like to announce that I recently received a promotion and in two weeks will be starting in my new position as Regional Associate Perishables Buyer for cheese! I'll be located in our new Whole Foods Market Distribution Center so I won't be at the San Jose location anymore. Have no fear! I plan to continue blogging about cheeses that we're featuring as a region and maybe as a result help the rest of you who don't live in the San Jose area find these tasty cheeses too! I am really excited for this opportunity and will be able to share with you all a whole new side of the cheese world.

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Brescianella Stagionata

Hello everyone!

A couple of days ago at the cheese counter, I was pleasantly surprised by the arrival of Brescianella Stagionata. It had been a while since I had had this cheese and the ones that we received were in pristine condition. Look at how pretty it is!

Cheese: Brescianella Stagionata
Producer: Luigi Guffanti (affineur)
Region: Lombardia, Italy
Milk: Raw cow's milk (I had originally listed this as pasteurized, but I was corrected by a source from Guffanti)
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

This cheese is named for the town of Brescia where most of this cheese is produced. It is very similar to Taleggio and like Taleggio it is washed in a brine solution that gives the rind the lovely orange color as well as a slight stickiness. The aroma that comes from this cheese is phenomenal, well at least for a turophile like me! It is definitely a stinky cheese, but if you can get past the odor you will discover how wonderful this cheese really is.

This particular batch of Brescianella is in such great condition and is ready to eat right now! The texture is luscious and creamy and the flavor is out of this world. It tastes slightly sweet, milky and grassy with hints of hazelnuts. I often compare it to creamy cauliflower. I couldn't just have one bite...

The trick with this cheese is that is has a very small window for when it is best to be eaten. After cutting into the Brescinella, you want to eat it as soon as possible. If you wait too long to eat it, the smell will be overbearing and will cause the cheese to have some off flavors. That being said, the Brescinella we have is super fresh and ready to be enjoyed! Come on by the cheese counter and have yourself a sample. Hope to see you all soon! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Big Ed's Farm Style Gouda

Today I got to spend a lot of time behind the cheese counter cutting cheese (much to my delight!) and one of the cheeses that we received today was the Big Ed's Farm Style Gouda from Saxon Homestead Creamery in Cleveland, WI. Because I was able to visit Wisconsin and many creameries there last year, I have a soft spot for Wisconsin made cheeses. This wheel was particularly eye catching with its bright orange rind...

Cheese: Big Ed's
Producer: The Klessig and Heimerl Families at Saxon Homestead Creamery
Location: Cleveland, WI
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Microbial (Vegetarian)

This cheese is the epitome of a table cheese. Firm, buttery, nutty, creamy, grassy with a touch of salt. I can definitely see this cheese being used in a variety of ways. My first thought is to put it in my next batch of macaroni and cheese that I make. The consistency is so smooth and creamy that it was make a luxurious mac and cheese...

The families at Saxon Homestead Creamery are super passionate about the quality of their products and the health and well being of their cows. Clicking through their website I could tell that this was more than a business to them, this was their passion and way of life. If you're interested in seeing a slide show on how they make cheese, they have a really cool set of pictures on their website located here: Check it out! It's pretty awesome.

As I just cut into the wheel today, the pieces I have in my case are super fresh and ready for the taking! The Big Ed's is on sale this month and really is such a versatile cheese that you will not have any trouble finding ways to use it. Come on by the counter and try a sample!

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Local Gem - St George

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend and made some happy family memories. I had a wonderful time with my family as always. We even had an Easter egg hunt! This was especially fun since it was me, my two sisters and my sister's boyfriend looking for the eggs and we are all in our mid-twenties! It was probably more competitive than the average Easter egg hunt, but fun nonetheless. :)

I've decided to talk about a locally made cheese today that I have heard a lot about from my customers but have only had the pleasure of trying in the last couple of days when we started carrying it at our cheese counter. This cheese is St. George.

Cheese: St. George
Producer: Joe and Mary Matos of Matos Cheese Factory
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Milk: Heat treated cow's milk (so it is still technically considered raw in the U.S.)
Rennet: Vegetarian

In 1979 Joe and Mary Matos moved to Santa Rosa, CA from the island of Sao Jorge in the Portuguese Azores. They brought with them the recipe of their homeland's native cheese and thus created the St. George (named after the island, Sao Jorge). Mary Matos has said that in her homeland, this cheese was often used as a way to pay for things when money was not available. The traditional style of making this cheese is in a loaf form but for the St. George made here you will see in wheel form.

I find this cheese simple and unpretentious. To me it's a cross between a cheddar and a havarti. It is creamy and delicious with a slight nuttiness to it. The natural rind adds a hint of earthy complexity that can only come from a natural rind cheese. In the last few days I've had some customers asking about the Austrian Amadeus cheese and while we don't have that cheese at the moment, the St. George has very similar flavoring with a bit more character.

Use the St George as a cheese to round out any cheese plate or as a cheese to use in cooking as it melts very well and blends nicely with many different flavors.

I invite you all to come on by the cheese counter and ask for a sample! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!