Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Miss Morbier? Try Secret de Scey!

Hello loyal readers!

There has been quite a few changes with the FDA reformulating their procedures and for the moment, Morbier is one of the cheeses that has been affected by these changes. If you've been craving some Morbier recently, we have a cheese that may satisfy your craving until we can get the original back - the Secret de Scey!

Cheese: Secret de Scey
Producers: Fromagerie Jean Perrin
Region: Franche-Comte, France
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The Secret de Scey is actually the same exact cheese and recipe as the Morbier, it is just made with pasteurized milk. AOC regulations have changed recently for the Morbier saying that it must be made with raw milk, so all pasteurized versions of Morbier are now called Secret de Scey.

The traditional recipe of the Morbier and now the Secret de Scey includes two different milkings, one in the morning and one in the evening. The farmers would take the morning milking and after it had been processed, place the curd into the form. They would then sprinkle vegetable ash and salt on top to keep the curd from drying out. For the evening milking, the process would be repeated and this curd would be placed in the same form as the morning milking on top of the vegetable ash and salt. After the curds have set, the cheese is washed with a natural brine and is aged for a minimum of four months. 

The Secret de Scey (as well as the Morbier) will always have the signature line of vegetable ash lining the middle of the paste. This is how you can tell the difference between the two milkings. Try tasting the paste on each side of the ash separately. Do they taste different? Depending on what the cows ate that day, there may be a large or small difference in flavor. That's what makes this cheese so fun!

Don't be frightened by the semi-potent washed rind smell of the cheese... the paste is creamy with a hint of funk. If you're a "stinky" cheese fan, you should add this one to your list. As for a beverage pairing, I lean more toward a Saison/Farmhouse style beer. The light, almost fizzy quality of these beers help cut the cloying cream and slight funk of the cheese... Quite incredible.Be sure to swing by the Whole Foods Market Los Altos cheese counter soon and we'd be happy to give you a sample of this yummy cheese!

ALSO, if you're interested in yummy cheese at a GREAT price, be sure to come by our cheese counter on Friday, February 6 for 20% off ALL CUT IN HOUSE CHEESE! That means... any cheese that we cut and wrap in house will be 20% off for that Friday and that Friday only! I'll be behind the cheese counter from 8am - 4:30pm if you want to stop by and chat cheese with me! You better believe I'll be stocking up on some cheese that day also!

I hope to see you on Friday, February 6 or any day before then! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Enjoy National Cheese Lover's Day with some Challerhocker!

Happy National Cheese Lover's Day everyone!

I hope you all are having a great week so far. Today is an amazing day because it is in fact National Cheese Lover's Day. I wasn't behind the cheese counter today because I took a couple of days off... BUT I did cut into a lovely cheese the other day that is currently on promotion that I would love to share with you all... the Challerhocker.

Cheese: Challerhocker
Producers: Kaserei Tufertschwil/Walter Rass of Chas & Co.
Region: Tufertschwil, St.Gallen, Switzerland
Milk: Thermalized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Walter Rass is known for his superb Appenzeller and has won myriad awards for said cheese. Instead of sitting on his laurels, he decided to step up his game and tweak the recipe. He changed the curd size, adjusted the cooking temperature and lengthened the aging process. "Challerhocker" literally means "sitting in the cellar" which is one of the important differences between Challerhocker and Appenzeller as it ages for a minimum of 10 months or more while the Appenzeller only ages for 8-10 months. 

The flavor of the Challerhocker is spectacular. It has a brown butter, caramel, nutty quality of which I can't get enough. It also has the tiny tyrosine amino acid "flavor crystals" throughout the wonderfully creamy paste. I am 100% going to add this cheese to my next fondue. It does have a little pungency, so if you're a little gun-shy with the stinkier cheeses, be sure to ask for a sample before taking a piece home with you.

Be sure to take advantage of this promotion while you can! This cheese is not inexpensive, so now would be the time to stock up. Swing by your local NorCal Whole Foods Cheese counter and check it out! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Nettle Meadow Farm's Kunik

Happy New Year loyal readers!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Things have settled down at the cheese counter this week and I finally have a moment to write about some of the fun cheeses we have! Today, I'm going to talk about a cheese of which Ryan, my Cheese Specialist, is quite fond - Kunik from Nettle Meadow Farm.

Cheese: Kunik (named after one of the first goats on the farm) 
Producers: Sheila Flanagan and Lorraine Lambiase of Nettle Meadow Farm
Region: Southern Adirondack Park in Thurman, New York
Milk: Pasteurized goat and cow's milk (75% goat's milk, 25% jersey cow's cream)
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

I'd personally never had the Kunik until a couple of days ago when one of my team members opened it up for a customer to try. When it was cut open, it was almost at peak ripeness. The paste was luscious and gooey and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a sample. 

As the cheese hit my tongue, it was obvious that it was a triple creme right off the bat. The thick, buttery-ness of the paste was unmistakable. The next flavor that hit my palate was the slight tang of the goat's milk followed by the cloying texture of jersey cow's cream. I was also very impressed by the complex notes of grass and grain that were present in the cheese. As it says right on the label, "This cheese is a sumptuous concentration of the organic grains and wild herbs our goats and sheep eat every day, including wild raspberry leaf, nettle, kelp, comfrey, garlic, barley, goldenrod". A lot of cheese makers I know try to avoid having their livestock eat these very flavorful herbs as the flavors get passed on in the milk causing "off" flavors. To me it was such a breath of fresh air really being able to taste the terroir and experience some of the environment in which the goats live. 

The typical beverage pairing with many triple cremes is a bright, sparkling wine of sorts. In this case, a sparkling wine would absolutely work with this cheese, but what I was really craving was a nice chocolate or hazelnut porter. The complexity of the Kunik would pair beautifully with the bigger flavors of a porter. 

Next time you're in the Los Altos area, be sure to stop by the Whole Foods cheese counter there and say hello! I'd love to have you taste a sample of this magnificent cheese.

Until next time (you won't have to wait so long this time), eat, drink and be happy!!