Thursday, August 29, 2013

Another CCP-Made Cheese! Grand Cru Original King Cuts

Hello everyone!

I figured I would continue with the CCP-made cheese theme and decided to talk about the Grand Cru Original King Cuts. My friend, Tiffany Cunningham, who is a CCP that works at the global offices of Whole Foods Market in Austin, TX, had the opportunity to make cheese at Emmi Roth in Monroe, WI. She specifically helped in the making of the King Cuts (along with other yummy Emmi Roth cheeses) which is super exciting because this cheese is only available at Whole Foods Market! Pretty cool right?

Cheese: Grand Cru Original King Cuts
Producer: Emmi Roth Kӓse
Location: Monroe, WI
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)

The Grand Cru Original is a cheese that is made in the style of Gruyere, the Alpine, washed rind cheese from Switzerland. It is super creamy, floral and nutty. Like Gruyere, this cheese is often used as a cooking cheese (think fondue, quiche, or soup), but I really like to feature it on my cheese plate as a cheese that everyone will like. It's very approachable yet still kinda fancy!

I especially love to pair Alpine style cheeses with charcuterie. Today I paired it with some tasty Calabrese salami. The fatty, saltiness of the meat goes perfectly with the rich, creamy Grand Cru Original.

Here are some pictures of Tiffany making the Grand Cru Original... Good work Tiffany, the cheese tastes amazing!

Tiffany cutting and stirring the curd

Here she is setting the molds for the wheels of Gruyere

Trimming up the Gruyere so it's nice and uniform

Tiffany babysitting the cheese as it sits in a brine solution

Gruyere getting ready to be aged!

Here she is washing the Gruyere with a brine solution

If this cheese is tempting your taste buds, be sure to swing by your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter and ask for a taste! You won't be disappointed. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Day Making Mt Tam at Cowgirl Creamery

Last Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to make cheese at Cowgirl Creamery in Petaluma. I had made cheese in the past when I was in Wisconsin at the Center for Dairy Research, but I had never spent a whole day making a single batch of cheese... It's quite a workout! Here are some pictures from my Mt Tam cheesemaking adventure...

First thing you need to make cheese is milk! The big metal contraption in the top picture is their vat pasteurizer. The milk comes in through the pipes and is pasteurized there and then poured into a basin that is a little less than 400 gallons... it's a lot of milk!

Once the milk is in, we added the starter bacteria. This has the consistency of a yogurt and helps acidify the milk. The brown specks you see on the top are the Penicillium that help create the bloomy rind that we all know and love. We then left the starter culture to work on the milk for about 40 minutes. After that we added the rennet (for Mt Tam they use microbial, non-GMO rennet).

The rennet starts working almost immediately, but we let it set for another 40 minutes. The milk coagulates and becomes almost like a jello. I was able to cut it myself to see if it was ready... see below...

Eric, the head cheesemaker told me that this curd was almost perfect because the part of the curd that I'm lifting up is smooth with just a little bit a whey expulsion. If the curd sets for too long, it will start to break unevenly. Once the curd has set for the appropriate amount of time, it is time to cut!
It doesn't take too long for the curd to get to the size that we want. We then drain out one third of the whey and replace that liquid with water (a Dutch technique). After a little more mixing the curd is ready to be put into the forms.
It's a little hard to see in this picture, but there is a hose that is coming out of the cheese vat that the cheesemakers use to put the curd into the forms. This curd comes out super fast! I had the chance to do this with our batch of cheese and it was pretty intimidating. I'm still waiting on the pictures that they took of me and I'm pretty sure there are a couple pictures of me being super nervous about spilling the curd everywhere... haha.
The cheese is then flipped a couple of times before the end of the day and left out in order to drain off the excess whey. When the cheesemakers return the next morning, the wheels are put into a brine solution for around 3 hours.
I got to help remove the previous day's batch of Mt. Tam's from the brine and then put them onto a rack so they can be aged in the aging room, which looks like this!
The cheese is flipped twice a week and is left in the aging room for about two weeks before it is off to be wrapped (and all cheese is hand-wrapped at Cowgirl Creamery! I was able to jump in and help with some wrapping as well...). After two weeks, the cheese looks like this...

Pretty cool huh? I had such a great time... and was super duper sweaty by the time my day was done.
Thank you so much to Cathy Strange for helping organize this, Peg Smith for allowing me to come by and help make cheese and to Eric Patterson for being so patient with me and walking me through the steps of making this wonderful cheese. I can't wait to go back to help with another batch! I've been told that next month you should be able to buy the cheese that Danielle (the other WFM NorCal CCP who made Mt Tam the day before I did) and I made. Just look for the Mt Tam that is labeled as being CCP made! Hopefully it tastes just as good as the other Mt Tams...
Thanks for reading my blog! I hope you enjoyed this unique post. I'm hoping to have many more posts like this in the future as I have more opportunities to make cheese... Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Redwood Hill Cameo

Hello everyone!

Today I get to share with you one of the yummy cheeses I got from the American Cheese Society Conference. It's funny that I had to go all the way to Madison, WI in order to get it because it is a local cheese to me! Don't worry, it's readily available in California, I just hadn't bought cheese for a few days and I was given a TON when I left Wisconsin.

Cheese: Cameo
Producer: Redwood Hill Farm
Location: Sebastopol, CA
Milk: Pasteurized goat's milk
Rennet: Vegetarian

I have had many cheeses from Redwood Hill Farm before but I had never had the pleasure of trying the Cameo. The Cameo is a camembert inspired bloomy rind goat cheese. It has some tasty fresh herbs and peppercorns on the top as well. The wheel that I had was a little bit aged, but not very much. The paste was still pretty firm but had started to develop a tasty herbaciousness (I know that's not a word, but I use it frequently!). It does still taste like goat cheese, but when you add the bloomy rind you get a little bit of mushroomy, earthiness. If you let the wheel age even more, the paste will soften even more and the flavors will become more intense.

I enjoyed the Cameo with some Raincoast Crisps that I had with me. It was quite a tasty treat. I would pair this cheese with a nice sparkling wine or some yummy charcuterie... Darn! That makes me want some salame right now.. :(

Well, this post was short and sweet, but I have plenty more cheese to come. You can find the Cameo at many Whole Foods in the NorCal area. Swing by your local cheese counter and pick up a wheel for yourself!

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Trip to Madison - The Adventures of an Official ACS Conference Cheesemonger

Hello everyone!

I just returned from seven wonderful days at the American Cheese Society Conference in Madison, WI. I was given the honor of being one of two people in charge of all of the cheeses at this event - the receiving, the prep, the execution, etc. It was an amazing experience and I thought I would share some pictures with you all :)

Here's the Capitol building in Madison my first night there. Quite a view.


Our glorious prep area... this is where we built and prepped our fair share of cheese :)

The refrigerated truck that I spent many hours in... what you can't tell is that this truck is on an incline and these carts did not really like to stay put. Made my life interesting :)

This was the first event of the conference after the Certified Cheese Professional Exam. 200 people took the test and the folks from Emmi Roth and Cypress Grove helped us throw this shindig together. The raclette was delicious!!

And here are some pictures of more events...

... the Wisconsin beer and cheese tasting session

... and the Meet the Cheesemaker event. This was a blast! Over 70 cheesemakers in North America were there showing off their yummy cheeses.

... the cheese and chocolate pairing session. This was probably the most popular event of the whole conference!

The cheese plates that Jason did an amazing job building for the induction ceremony for the Guilde des Fromagers. Jason was the other Official Conference Cheesemonger and he did an amazing job working with the volunteers and being the creative mind of the two of us :). Thanks Jason!

Pictures from the Festival of Cheese - over 1700 cheeses were entered this year and every one of them was out for sampling on Saturday. Michelle Haram, Debra Dickerson and team did an AMAZING job organizing and prepping for this event.

And the cheese that took Best in Show - the Winnimere! Mateo Kehler and crew had to drive more of their cheese from a few states over in order for there to be enough to sample. The bottom picture is of Mateo setting out this fantastic cheese. Unfortunately this cheese is usually only made in the winter time, so make sure to keep an eye out for it this winter!

And here are some obligatory scenery shots...

I hope you enjoy these pictures! I had an amazing time at the Conference and was so honored to be a part of it. Thank you to Jason for being a great partner in crime, the American Cheese Society folks (Nora, Becca, Michelle, Jana, Steve and Jane) for giving me this great opportunity and to all of the cheesemakers who I had the pleasure to work with over the course of the week.

I do have TONS of cheese that I brought home from this event, so I'll be trying to post more frequently over the next couple of weeks. I apologize for the latest stretch of silence but I hope these pictures make up for it!

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!