Sunday, September 21, 2014

Get Roquefort While You Can!

Hello loyal readers,

I hope you all had an amazing weekend! My weekend was full of cheesy events, so I had a blast!

If you've been following cheese news recently you are aware that several cheeses are having a hard time getting into the country due to stricter FDA regulations. The American Cheese Society and the FDA are in discussion trying to get these over the top regulations back to more reasonable levels, but that probably won't happen for a while. In the meantime, many delicious cheeses are being refused at our ports....

Roquefort, the well known blue cheese from France, is unfortunately caught in this crossfire. I was looking back at some of my older blog posts and I actually had posted about Roquefort on my fourth post ever! If you want to see my amateur post on Roquefort, you can see it here:

Luckily for me, I am still able to get my hands on some Roquefort from Gabriel Coulet - and it's 100% organic!

Cheese: Roquefort
Producer: Gabriel Coulet
Location: Rouerge, France
Milk: Raw sheep's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Roquefort is deliciously tangy, creamy and a touch salty. I'm going to plagiarize myself very quickly and take the description of Roquefort from my original blog post:

"Roquefort is a very special cheese in that it was the first cheese to receive AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) in 1925. This means that the name "Roquefort" is protected and in order for a cheese to be called Roquefort it needs to follow very specific guidelines. The milk must be raw and must be the milk of the Lacaune ewes that are raised within a specific area in France. The cheeses must be aged in the caves of Combalou for a minimum of three months and the mold used must be produced in the caves themselves. The way that the cheesemakers get the mold for Roquefort is that they leave bread in the caves and allow them to get moldy. The mold formed is the Penicillium roqueforti which is naturally occurring in the air in the caves. Once the bread gets moldy, they scrape the mold off of the bread and add it to the milk they will use to make this cheese! By using bread to produce the mold it is recommended that those who are gluten intolerant avoid this cheese."

I featured the Roquefort on a cheese plate I built the other day (pictured above) and used fresh figs as a complimentary pairing. I don't know about you, but I love figs and pretty much any blue cheese. It's fun to stuff the figs with the cheese and grill them or broil them in the oven.

I just recently was able to procure some more of this amazing cheese and it will be back in our stores for a short time at the beginning of October. Keep an eye out for it and enjoy it while you can. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Heinrichsthaler Bierkäse

Good evening everyone,

I hope you're having a great start to your week. I was out last week with the flu, so I apologize for the delay in posting.

Today I would like to talk about a fun cheese that we currently have on promotion at all NorCal/Reno Whole Foods Markets - the Heinrichsthaler Bierkäse!

Cheese: Bierkäse
Producer: Heinrichsthaler
Location: Radeberg, Germany
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)

"Bierkäse" literally means "beer cheese" in German and is a fun seasonal cheese produced in time for Oktoberfest starting on September 20th. The curd is washed with beer and has little bits of onion mixed in. When I first cut into the cheese, the onion smell was very obvious, but not over the top. I was pleased when I took the first bite that I didn't taste only onion, but other nutty, creamy nuances as well. There isn't much of a beer flavor, but the addition of the beer to the curds add a fun twist as most "beer cheeses" I know have the rinds washed with beer instead of the curds.

In pairing this cheese, the obvious choice was a German beer. I was reminded by one of  my colleagues that we currently have a beer on promotion that is from the same place the cheese is from - Radeberg, Germany. Can you see the name? Should be relatively easy to remember - Radeberger.

We will only have this cheese for a limited time during the Oktoberfest season, so be sure to visit your local Whole Foods Market cheese counter. I stopped by the Whole Foods Market in Campbell today and visited one of our 20 newly minted Certified Cheese Professionals - Joe Buckle! If you're in the area, swing on by, he'd be happy to talk cheese with you. 

On that note, I'm off to enjoy what remains of the Bierkäse I purchased and polish it off with my glass of my Radeberger. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Point Reyes Creamery Bay Blue

Good evening my fellow turophiles,

I hope you all had a festive Labor Day weekend and I also hope that all of the folks up in the Napa Valley that were affected by the earthquake two weeks ago are recovering well. I went up to the Napa Whole Foods store a few days after the quake and spent some time helping the team get the cheese counter back in working order. I was so glad that everyone was alright and that the store was able to bounce back quickly. As you can imagine, they lost a lot of product - including thousands of dollars of wine - but the important thing is that everyone is ok!

Today I wanted to dig a little deeper into the local cheese that won 2nd place Best in Show at this year's American Cheese Society Conference - the Point Reyes Bay Blue. I was so excited when I found out that they not only won 1st place in their category, but that they were recognized as the second best cheese out of all of the cheeses that were submitted!

Cheese: Bay Blue
Producer: Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company
Cheesemaker/Affineur: Kuba Hemmerling
Location: Point Reyes Station, CA
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

When I first tried this cheese, I was absolutely blown away. I had never tried a blue cheese quite like this one.  It is aged for about 90 days and has a beautiful, natural rind. The flavor is creamy, piquant, caramel-ly, and fruity all at the same time. The mold is not over the top and adds great texture and crunch to the otherwise fudgy paste. Whether you're a blue fanatic, or not the biggest blue cheese fan, you more likely than not will fall in love with this cheese.

While helping out at the Napa store, I ended up helping cut and wrap blue cheeses and Bay Blue was one of them! You can see the freshly cut pieces in the picture above. YUM.

I recommend trying the Bay Blue with a nice dessert wine... I had some with a delicious Zinfandel Port the other night - absolutely scrumptious! You can also stuff figs or dates with the Bay Blue and eat them just like that, baked in the oven, or grilled. Any of those variations are to die for.

All in all, the Bay Blue is an amazing cheese and absolutely deserved the recognition it received at the 2014 ACS Conference. Congratulations Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company! We're proud to have you right in our backyard.

Bay Blue is available at most of the Whole Foods Market cheese counters in the Northern California - Reno region so be sure to swing by your local store and ask for a taste! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!