Outside our windows I can usually see cars backed up for miles, or at least as far as the eye can see. The same crowded scene prevails every weekday morning. One of my colleagues is even suffering from extra commuting delays due to a power outage on his train line. Around these parts I would estimate that the average commute is well over an hour. Mine is. This means that one has to get up earlier to make it to work on time; no problem there if you don’t mind getting to bed a little earlier as well.
If there is one thing that can lessen the stress of your commute, it is cheese. Consider getting to bed a little earlier: cheese contains tryptophan, as well as opioid peptides, both of which can help you relax. That’s great for the end of the day. But what about those groggy mornings preceding the rush to work? If like me you require a little caffeine jump-start each morning, leaping right out of bed and onto the subway platform is not an option. I cannot say that it is a particularly leisurely start of the day but I do enjoy savoring my coffee at the breakfast table.
As I often recommend, a little cheese at the start of the day can sustain you for many hours. Yet we have this empty feeling (especially Americans) if we do not fill up every few hours, regardless of all the great sustenance the cheese may have delivered hours earlier. These hungry moments often emerge during the hustle and bustle of that overlong commute; this is precisely when a slight nibble of cheese can help you soldier on.
And as for road-rage (in case your commute involves driving), cheese’s stress-reducing potential will ensure a much calmer drive.
As always, slip a little cheese in the pocket and it will be okay.
The New York Times printed an article recently debating the value of skipping breakfast with regard to weight loss. Sadly, it seemed like there was no specific conclusion on this point. I was reminded of an early afternoon a few years ago: I was sitting on the 1 train and could not help but hear a conversation between two young women sitting across from me.
One said to the other “I just had lunch less than an hour ago and I am already starving!”
I wondered what it was she had for lunch. I assumed it must have been a low-fat lunch, likely accompanied by a diet soda. I had not eaten since breakfast (which I rarely skip) and I was still sated. My breakfast that morning consisted of fruit, a handful of nuts, a 30-weight espresso to which a little honey had been added, and a small wedge of firm sheep cheese.
There is nothing quite like a little cheese to keep you going for hours.
If your day is rather sedentary I suppose skipping breakfast may be an option, though I do not see how one’s work performance can be adequately sustained without some sort of nutrient.
So, if nothing else, at least have a little cheese. Or if you are inclined to skip breakfast for whatever reason, make sure you have a chunk of cheese in your pocket.
It seemed like it might be a nice piece at the start: someone accidentally left milk outside and it fermented. When did humans first recognize that this was a healthful product?
I had to read this one: an article on probiotics, and not for the fact that it came from a doctor.
Instead this online article concludes with a list of five things one can do to make sure they have great digestive health, avoiding all dairy products being at the top of the list. What went wrong with this article? How did we get from a healthful product to one that should be avoided? The good doctor does mention the negative effects of pasteurization: that it may destroy the lactase in the milk? He also points to the lactose in dairy, as though it is found in all dairy products, including aged cheeses.
If the probiotics are the key to the improved digestive systems and the enhanced immune systems, why not direct the reader to those cheeses that are full of probiotics, the uncompromised (raw) milk cheeses?
Interesting points are made throughout the piece, including the notion that about 85% of the bacteria in our gut is of the friendly variety, the rest being non-beneficial yet less problematic because they are outnumbered so greatly. This has been widely accepted as a given, that there are far more of the good guys than the bad, otherwise we would not be here.
But do not try and confuse the reader with all this hysteria-inducing talk, all for the sake of selling a lifetime supply of factory-made probiotics. You can get the more natural types directly from your raw milk cheeses, without the lactose, and in an incredibly effective and delicious form.
As I have noted before: they do not teach cheese in medical school. These guys had better watch out. Was it not the father of western medicine who said: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food?
I can’t seem to get enough of this one particular cheese – Le Moulis. I have loved it for many years. It is a cheese without a P.D.O. – a Protected Designation of Origin, which would guarantee its production in the unique region where it originated, in this case the Moulis region of the Pyrénées – but it has been a cheese of exceedingly high quality for many years. There are many similar tommes produced in this corner of France so they could be lumped together under one P.D.O. umbrella, though this may not be necessary, or advantageous. I love all those fermier cheeses dearly: partly for their simple elaboration, but also for their correspondingly complex flavors. How this can be so: simple crafting leading to profound profiles?
This is precisely the point. Milk is, or should be, a nutrient-dense fluid. When it is fermented and made into cheese the goal is to preserve those nutrients and to possibly enhance or elaborate those nutrients as well. The fermentation helps reach both of these goals: preservation and enhancement. The many nutrients themselves give depth to the overall profile of cheese.
Le Moulis does not receive complicated secondary treatments; it is a basic farmer cheese. No bloomy white coating, no smelly orange rind, no blue veining, and no superfluous floral adornments, just cheese: pure and simple. Definitely uncompromised milk.
The flavors upload onto the palate without a lot of fanfare; they open up gradually but finish authoritatively. Most everyone loves Le Moulis at the start because it reminds them of their first food – mother’s milk. The flavors evolve across the palate, highlighting all the variegated plant species those cows enjoyed that afternoon in southwest France. The balanced simplicity makes Le Moulis an ideal marriage candidate for many wines; its lingering complexity leaves the shy wines to themselves.
Although perhaps not the most frequently asked questions, those centered on how best to store cheese come up often. The short answer to the storage question is: store you cheese in your stomach; and that you purchase the cheese you will consume within a day or two, the same way you purchase fish; leave the long-term storage for the professionals. The way most Americans buy food for home consumption these days, buying only what you need for a couple of days is not an option. We simply don’t have the time to go shopping for our cheese every other day, though you can do that easily using our website. The firmer the cheese, the longer you can store it. The softer cheeses can be considered to be more “luxury” cheeses, or cheeses for special occasions. With the softer cheeses not only do you have shorter shelf lives, you are paying for more water, hence the shortened shelf lives.
So what if you do have leftover cheese, soft or hard? We ship our cheeses in cheese-friendly paper, which allows the cheese to breathe while in transit. This paper is also good for rewrapping leftover cheese, at least while it’s clean. If the cheese paper becomes too wet, or if too much rind remains on the paper, or if it becomes soiled in another way, the paper should not be reused. If it is a larger piece of cheese (say about a half pound) you can wrap it in some other similar paper (parchment or waxed) but this may not be worth the extra effort, or the paper.
I typically drop leftover cheeses into reusable plastic containers. If it is a firmer cheese I often drop them directly into ziplock bags, sometimes more than one type of cheese. Cross-contamination is not a significant concern with the harder cheeses. It would not be a concern for the softer cheeses either except they can ooze into their neighbors. Actually, this might lead to some interesting blends.
If the concern with storage is whether or not the cheese is safe to eat after extended storage, the probability is very high that it is. I would not say that there is a 100% guarantee that the cheese will still be safe to eat after many moons but when a cheese is not really safe, a little nibble will be enough to let you know.
Notice how I did not mention refrigeration? There are advantages and disadvantages to this recent addition to food storage systems. The advantage is that refrigeration preserves cheese in a relatively static state. Retarded degradation and spoilage occurs at lower temperatures. The cooler temperature helps to keep the moisture within a cheese, so long as the cheese is well wrapped. If a piece of cheese is left out it can sweat, then dry out. Butterfats will leach out leaving a relatively tasteless (and less nutritious) cheese behind. The primary disadvantage to cold storage is similar to the problem just cited. Most refrigerated units are relatively dry. The drier environment will draw moisture from the cheese; this can occur even when the cheese is well wrapped. To that point: well wrapped is one thing but cheese needs a little air exchange. Without it the cheese will eventually spoil. Cheese, being a fermented food, requires air to survive. This is why cheese will better survive longer transport and storage if it is wrapped in breathable paper, or some other semi-permeable wrap.
To recap for home or restaurant storage:
Buy less but buy often. (Remember to eat cheese every day!)
Wrapping cheese in cheese paper (such as the paper we send your cheese in) is the ideal but it is not absolutely necessary. Wrapping leftover cheese in parchment or waxed paper is fine, or it can be dropped into a small Tupperware type container, or into a ziplock bag.
It is fine to store cheese in your refrigerator, so long as you leave it out to rise to room temperature before you eat it. Do not store cheese in your freezer!
Cheese can keep for extended periods: the firmer the cheese, the longer the shelf life. If a cheese is too far gone to safely consume a little nibble will confirm this – a little nibble you may choose to spit out.
It is heartening to read the results on food safety as it relates to cheese. As I often say: If you are unsure about the other foods available, go for the cheese.
We often promote the marvelous nutritive values of cheese but it is also nice to know how safe a food it is. Of the food-borne illness outbreaks reported to the FDA, the CDC, and the USDA, between 2001 and 2010, cheese ranks safer than fruits and vegetables, far safer. Adjusted for consumption, vegetables are responsible for more than twice as many food-borne illnesses as cheese is. The incredible edible egg can be blamed for more than six times the number of illnesses. Seafood is responsible for nearly twenty times as many illnesses, again, adjusted for consumption.
Since 2010 there has been only one food-borne illness outbreak attributed to dairy in the U.S. – milk from a dairy in Pennsylvania in 2012. Cheese is even safer than milk! As of this writing there have been no reports of food-borne illnesses attributed to any U.S. dairy product this year.
No other food group comes close to the stellar track record that cheese enjoys, except for beverages. Even beverages are not without blame. But when you consider the nutritive values of beverages, cheese is incomparable.
What if we were to tell you that there is an exciting initiative underway that will create new jobs, promote local foods, and fuel small business growth? Sounds like the sort of project America needs, right? And guess what: we need YOU to make it happen! And there’s only a few days left!
Our epic endeavor is called The Great American Cheese Project, Artisanal Premium Cheese’s new crowdfunding initiative on the RocketHub platform that will generate revenues for hundreds of American cheesemakers and their milk suppliers. And what makes this endeavor “epic,” you ask? Just how is this project “great”? Well, ladies and gentlemen, consider for a moment that last year there were over 500 American cheesemakers producing more than 1,900 cheeses, many of them with no markets to sell to – same goes for their milk suppliers. And now Artisanal Premium Cheese is in the process of assembling the largest line of more than 300 American artisan cheeses from six defined regions covering the entire nation. We age these cheeses and handle the marketing for cheesemakers in the food service and retail sectors. The Great American Cheese Project will enable Artisanal Premium Cheese to enlarge its inventory, which will not only give struggling dairy farmers and cheesemakers the opportunity to extend the reach of their great products but will simultaneously expand the range of great options available to our customers.
Over the past year, we’ve added to our inventory a number of cheeses produced by a diverse array of cheesemakers across the country: Vermont’s Consider Bardwell Farm and Vermont Farmstead; Texas’s Brazos Valley Cheese; Pennsylvania’s Doe Run Dairy; Maryland’s Firefly Farms; New York’s Twin Maple Farm, 5 Spoke Creamery, and Old Chatham Sheepherding Company; and Idaho’s Lark’s Meadow Farms.
Keeping in mind all the great cheeses America produces, it is imperative to realize that the dairy industry across the country faces an array of challenges and needs our help. For example, dairy farmers in California (which produces almost one-fifth of America’s milk) are struggling with the rising cost of livestock feed caused by the current drought in the Midwest. “It’s darn serious,” according to Sacramento dairyman Case van Steyn, quoted in a Sacramento Bee article that warns of a rising tide of bankruptcies across the state’s dairies, while The Hanford Sentinel just announced that “twenty California legislators have joined with Western United Dairymen in calling for emergency price relief for floundering dairy operations.” And the situation is darn serious in New York, too, where the new federal farm bill threatens to reduce milk production, according to The Watertown Daily News.
The time to support America’s dairy industry is NOW. One of the most rewarding ways to do so is by pledging your support for The Great American Cheese Project. We need your pledges and there’s only a few days left! A host of benefits awaits you! Your participation in our RocketHub campaign will grant you UP TO 46% OFF on our cheeses and other products, including signed copies of “Mastering Cheese,” by our Dean of Curriculum, Max McCalman; in addition, we will ship our new Artisanal CheeseClock platters, plates and knives to you to help you enjoy cheeses in your home, just as if you took a class at Artisanal in New York City.
Tell us, friends, will you join us in the new American Cheese Revolution? Not only will you get the opportunity to enjoy some sumptuous cheeses and other goodies – you’ll be doing so for a good cause that you’ll find deliciously worthwhile.
The Comté Cheese Association has invited me to come by for a visit. This will be my first visit to this land of cheese royalty so I am particularly excited; this mountainous region is home to heavenly cheese. The name is virtually synonymous with “fromage;” Comté is what many Frenchmen think of when they think of cheese. Were we that lucky!
Edward Behr, publisher of the excellent the Art of Eating called me down for not including Comté in Cheese, a Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Best. This was a gross oversight of course. Maybe I took Comté for granted; the flavors may be quite familiar if it is a cheese that has been widely imitated. Yet if you close your eyes and take in all that a morsel of Comté can deliver, those flavors and aromas can resonate distinctly, delicious all the way through to the “finish.” Each wheel is unique, which is part of the beauty of this cheese – it would be difficult to ignore the differences among wheels of Comté, some more subtle than others. These variations make it a little difficult to generalize about what kinds of wines work with Comté; then again it also makes it a little easier to recommend a wine: try any of your favorite wines and see what happens when you pair it with Comté.
I recall experiencing more successes with white wines, more than reds, with Comté. I believe this is due to the many flavor/aroma dimensions of Comté; elevated tannins in the red wines can be a bit fussy with all that complexity. The white wines can be a little more tolerant of those layers of flavor; the tannins do not get in the way.
Comté is used extensively in cooking, able to add a profound accent on many dishes. The cheese can be enjoyed on its own, which is the way I have had Comté most every time. I recall seeing an older woman walking up to a cheese stall in a market in Nice. The fromagère knew exactly what her customer wanted – 100 grams of a young Comté. Today, many cheese lovers have acquired a taste for the more aged versions; the younger cheeses may seem to lack that “wow” factor.
On another occasion I witnessed a couple of Bordeaux wine makers snacking on Comté and fresh baguette. They were not having a glass of their lovely red Bordeaux with the cheese and bread; these two young ladies were having a soft drink instead. I thought it would have been lovely to see how the cheese and wine paired, right there by the vineyard. Then again it was early afternoon.
The A.O.C. rules define Comté rather strictly; the production rules are some of the strictest ones of France. You might think that they would all taste the same. It is precisely those rules that help give wheels of Comté their uncompromised and rather individual signatures.
When we first contemplated the idea of pairing Scotch whisky and cheese we were optimistic that it might succeed, though I admit we had reservations. It was not some zany new idea that had never been experienced before; after all, when the purity of water available was questionable, Scotch would serve us well. Or adding a little Scotch to that water might kill off some of the pathogens.
Eating savory cheese elevates thirst. Be careful slaking thirst with Scotch. Know your capacity! However, if you have a hard time appreciating Scotch you may want to try a little artisan cheese alongside it. Cheese has a special way of softening the jolt.
In a recent Single & Blended Scotch with Cheese class, we were impressed with the pairings: not a bad match among the 28 combinations, and several of them were remarkably delicious. The quality of the whiskeys had something to with this of course, and the selection of cheeses had at least as much to do with the many good matches.
We were able to detect nuances in the cheeses by taking small sips with each of the whiskeys. Adding just a little water to each Scotch helped open up the flavors. It seemed that everyone in the class was in agreement about the relative successes, more so than in most wine or beer classes.
Conversely, the cheese standout partners for these various whiskeys were Royale and Sbrinz. These two cheeses have proven to be reliable partners for just about any beverage we have thrown their way, often yielding those elusive “marriages-made-in-heaven.”
The first time you try pairing Scotch with cheese you may miss some of the finer points of the exercise, especially if you guzzle the whisky. Having more than one Scotch helps to distinguish the cheeses one from another, just as having more than one cheese helps distinguish the whiskeys.
Sangiovese is a varietal we often overlook; it could be partly because there were many inferior wines produced from this grape in the past, or because it is often blended with other high-pedigree varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, diluting its own characteristics. It has been blended with other varietals to yield some delicious wines. However part of the appeal of Sangiovese is its easy-drinking character, its graceful acceptance of other varietals in the mix, and its harmony with many foods, cheeses included.
Some Sangiovese successes have been noted recently in Napa yet the grape does not seem to grow quite as successfully much of anywhere else outside Tuscany, so it may also suffer from a lack of recognition on the worldwide stage. We are offering Sangiovese wines in more classes here at the Artisanal Cheese Center, not only the classes focused on Italian cheeses and wines, but in other classes too. This will allow us to pair our cheeses produced outside Italy with several Sangiovese wines. As the weather warms up, Sangiovese is sounding rather appealing, like a nice bottle for a picnic, accompanied by a little cheese and a crusty baguette.
Fortunately, some of the many cheeses that happen to pair well with Sangiovese make good picnic cheeses: goat, sheep, cow and mixed milk cheeses; from the lighter styles all the way up to and including some blues. These are some cheeses we have enjoyed with this varietal recently: