Epcot is celebrating its eighteenth annual Food & Wine Festival this year and we are proud to have been a part of this gourmet celebration since 1998. Each year we have presented seminars every weekend, each session highlighting the cheeses and wines of a country: France, Italy, Spain and the United States. A couple of years ago we added a few other themes to the Saturday morning events so that we could include other countries known less for their wines but held in high regard for cheese, such as Switzerland, England, Holland and others. We also wanted to expand the options so that guests would keep coming back for more.
We have long witnessed the growing popularity of cheese and wine in the United States, and more recently, the fast-growing popularity of craft beers. We debated the idea of switching one of the seven Saturday sessions from wine and cheese to beer and cheese. This year we finally made the leap and judging from the way last weekend’s session was received, the craft beer week will be around for quite awhile. And if it was going to be our first beer week, why not make it in October, especially if it’s early October in central Florida, temperatures outside reaching the mid-80’s?
As is often the case, the beers paired very well with all the cheeses. This is usually the case with wines as well but a good beer is almost a “given” when paired with a good cheese.
Why so few mismatches with beer?
There are a couple reasons why beers rarely miss with cheese. Most beers are a little less acid than most wines; this gives beers better pH harmony with cheeses. Cheeses are also a little acid, but not nearly as acid as most wines. Beers also lack the astringency that red wines possess – the tannin factor that can disrupt what might have been a good match with a cheese. Beers also have their effervescence that refreshes the palate when cheese is in the mix. Those bubbles lift up the butterfats, swirl them around, and the gentle acidity breaks them down delightfully.
All this is not to discount the “size” consideration, as in the overall flavor profile of a cheese or beer. The lighter flavored cheeses paired better with the lighter beer, while the bigger flavored cheeses paired better with the bigger beer.
Like the CheeseClock™ indicates, the bigger the cheese, the bigger the beer should be.
On our home page tool bar you will find “Beverage Pairings” under the “Entertaining” dropdown. A couple of words about this:
Each cheese on our website is assigned a varietal, just one. However there are often many wine types that pair successfully with a particular cheese. Some cheeses seem to pair well with any wine we throw their way. Isn’t there a name for those types of cheeses? Lush cheeses?
Regardless, one varietal is given – a varietal we agree is a successful match with the cheese in question. We are in the process of adding other varietals in the full description of each cheese so you can check each for additional wine matches.
Pairing cheese and wine is a little subjective yet there are some principles of successful food and beverage pairings that help create great matches. One of the fundamental principles of these success stories is simple: the bigger flavored cheeses pair more successfully with the bigger flavored wines. This is what the CheeseClock™ pairing tool is all about. Conversely, lighter cheeses are generally more successful with lighter wines.
Sometimes it seems that some of the strongest cheeses meld better with the lightest of wines, like a 180º counterweight. Some of the strongest cheeses seem to butt heads with the bolder wines. When this happens the cheese invariable comes out on top. In more cases than not, cheeses and wines do pair well together. The successes arise far more often than the misses. And again, there is a level of subjectivity in this.
So watch for additional wine pairing recommendations to appear in our updated cheese descriptions. You will find entries for beers and other beverages too.
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.
When we think of noble grape varieties, there are few that surpass the expectations demanded of Pinot Noir. The range in textures found in Pinot Noir is wide, the perfume is variable, yet the typical “Pinot” flavors are a little more predictable, flavors being flavors.
Pinot Noir has been called a sommelier’s grape. This is partly because it makes for a pleasant wine in most cases and it agrees with many foods. To “agree” with many foods is one thing, to “love” a food is quite another. And so it is with cheeses. Pinot Noirs seem to get along fairly well with many cheeses (except for most goats and most blues) yet it rarely falls head over heels with any type. Might it be said that this grape is comfortable in its own thin skin?
Some of the fruitier wines of this grape have greater success with the more assertive cheeses but a Pinot Noir that can stand up to a blue cheese is a rare sighting. I urge caution with that exercise; you will not want to shatter your gorgeous Pinot Noir with a bossy blue cheese. Once you have introduced that blue in the mouth, your wine will never be the same. However if you want to grow your catalog of successful cheese pairings for this varietal I recommend that you experiment with as many cheese types as you can find, keeping in mind that the pairings are more about the synergies between the cheese and the Pinot Noir, and less about the assessment of either partner. Putting cheeses and wines together can dramatically alter one’s appreciation for a cheese or a wine. The pairing principles apply to Pinot Noir no less than they do to other varietals: balance of fruity and savory, harmony of acidities, relative “size” of flavors of each, the complementing textural components, and the confluence of aromatics.
There are some notable cheese surprises to be realized with Pinot Noir. One blue cheese that actually performs rather well with a Burgundy Pinot is Roquefort. Granted, the Roquefort is outstanding and most Burgundy Pinot Noirs are no slackers either. The salt in the Roquefort contributes to the success of this match. Salt has a distinct way of highlighting the fruit in wines.
Another surprise I discovered with Pinot Noirs years ago was how well they paired with cheddars. Some say that cheddar is best paired with beer. Would that be because wines (Pinot Noirs included) did not have successful plantings in cheddar’s native land, southwest England? A little shortsighted, I say.
Remember to be careful with the goat cheeses and the blues! These families of cheeses can take the fun out of your Pinot Noir. This likable varietal finds its preferred cheese partners in the middle part of the CheeseClock™.
Sauvignon Blanc in most of its expressions is a varietal I associate with warm weather more than any other. Refreshing, with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, most Sauvignon Blancs are inherently delightful paired with warm-weather cheeses, mostly the lighter styles. The grape grows in so many regions that you might expect that it can grow successfully anywhere. In fact, this varietal is particular, not only with where it is grown but also with which cheeses it is paired. When a Sauvignon Blanc finds a good match with a cheese it is invariably a very good match. Sauvignon Blanc pulls no punches. If a little Sémillon and/or Moscadelle is thrown in (as in white Bordeaux and some of the lovely whites of Napa valley) this changes the lineup of cheese partners somewhat, as does oak barrel fermentation (as in the Fumé Blancs).
The aesthetic relationships Sauvignon Blanc enjoys with cheeses are fairly easy to pick out: the balance of fruity and savory, the harmony of acids, and the overall size of flavors. The aromatic synergies between Sauvignon Blanc and different cheese styles may be a little less obvious, though at times I am reminded of lemon meringue pie. Technically, the acidity associated with the grape has a distinctive way of cutting though the butterfats in many cheeses.
Sauvignon Blanc seems to be so self-assured that you would think you can throw any old cheese its way and the wine will not suffer. This is precisely one reason why the disappointments can arise: the varietal usually yields wines that are not considered soft, wines that are perhaps a little less malleable with “bossy” cheeses. Other white wines such as those made with the Chardonnay grape have a relatively round mouth-feel; they are usually a little less acid and are more “forgiving” of demanding cheese partners. This is not to say that some Sauvignon Blancs cannot stand up to assertively flavored cheeses; they just do not occur as frequently. Some of the stronger cheeses can flatten a lovely Sauvignon Blanc down to insignificance.
This is why it is important to be careful with Sauvignon Blanc and cheese pairings. The go-to species of cheeses is goat, with the sheep cheeses following close behind. Many of the goat milk cheeses will start to come into their primes a little later in the spring. The mixed milk cheeses always seem to have an advantage with wine pairings, such as the Nettle Meadow Kunik, which is delightful on its own, even nicer with a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Some of the cow cheeses in the cheddar family marry well (largely to the harmony of the acids with this grape) and some of the wash-rind or aged Alpine styles can pair well too, if the Sauvignon Blanc has sufficient “fruit.”
“Pleasure” is one of the first words that come to mind when we think of these two: cheese and wine, or “enjoyment.” The partnerships of cheese and wine have been around for centuries, most of them pleasurable relationships. So when we have cheese and wine (or cheese with any beverage) we are usually not thinking about how or why they mate. We are simply enjoying the wine and cheese: we have a sip of wine then we have a nibble of cheese, then wine, then cheese, etc., without fully contemplating the matching: the balancing and complementary relationships between the cheese and wine. Not to overanalyze it, but sometimes the residue leaves an “off” impression – it seems that some sort of conflict may have occurred. We enjoy a wine type and we enjoy a style of cheese, they may even be produced in the same region, yet they are not getting along, so to speak. I am afraid that most people blame the cheese when those mismatches occur.
Cheese has been so badly maligned for so long; cheese has suffered enough!
It is like a great guy and a great gal; the two may not be meant for each other.
“Pairing” seems to be all the rage these days. More and more restaurants have flights of cheese and wine (or craft beer, or Scotch, etc.) and when people are entertaining guests they often obsess about finding the ideal matches. This is probably one reason why my second book – Cheese, a Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Best – won a James Beard award, its wine pairings included with each cheese.
There are fundamental principles of pairing foods and beverages that can be applied to pairing cheese and wine. When those principles are considered to their fullest, those pairings often yield some “marriages-made-in-heaven,” or perfect pairings. There is a little science to it. One bit of science may be that when the cheese and wine (or other beverage) pair well aesthetically there may be other neurological benefits derived from careful matchmaking, so there may be some nutritional benefits too.
These pairing principles are applied when we taste cheeses and wines in our Matchmaking class. The class is a little academic but it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience; call it “infotainment.”
August is goat cheese month for a couple of reasons. Most goat cheeses are at their peaks when they are on the young side. If it is a relatively aged goat cheese (say around four months of age) the milk would have been drawn when the animals had some of the fresh vegetation that April brings, or if it is a younger cheese there should be a good diversity of plants available in July or August. Many dairy goats have wild berries and fresh herbs in their summer diets. The more food choices the animals have, the more flavorful the milk will be, which translates to a better cheese.
August, being one of the hottest months of the year, is a time when our cheese choices are for the lighter varieties, such as those younger goat cheeses. When the temperature creeps up into the nineties or higher we might skip the blues, the big-flavored or the stinky cheeses and choose those lighter creamier goat cheeses such as the Laurier instead. Even though most goat cheeses are still available in fine form later in the year, they are especially favored in August.
Our choices of wines or beers veer toward the lighter styles in August too. The Sauvignon Blancs (a varietal whose favorite cheeses are produced with goat milk) or the young Chardonnays that are fermented in stainless steel instead of oak, the floral Viogners and dry AlbariÃ±os or Chenin Blancs; all these white wines and many others pair exceptionally well with the goat milk cheeses. These cheeses also blend in beautifully with our cool pilsners, wheat beers, and our summer ales.
When you follow the logic of the CheeseClockâ„¢ pairing tool this is precisely what is indicated, the lighter cheeses such as the younger milder goat cheeses pair best with the lighter wines and beers.
I am so excited to share these photos with you! My sister got me a 3-month subscription to Artisanalâ€˜s Cheese of the Month Club for my birthday. My first delivery arrived in July, and I am just giddy with excitement! Cheese is my favorite food in the world (even more than dessert, can you imagine?) â€“ if I could only have one food for the rest of my life, I would choose cheese. I would never tire from the variety of textures, aromas, and flavor profiles; Iâ€™ve never met a cheese I didnâ€™t like! As a restaurant devoted entirely to cheese, Artisanal is one of my favorite places to dine in the city. But enough about me, letâ€™s get on with the CHEESE!
Oh, the goodness that was waiting inside this box was tantalizing:
I opened up the package, and packed in an insulated bag were four odoriferous bundles of heaven:
Also included was a â€œCheese Clockâ€ which provided â€œessential wisdom for selecting, presenting and enjoying Artisanal Premium Cheese!â€ â€“ well, if thereâ€™s any type of wisdom I like itâ€™s cheese wisdom:
Finally, Artisanal included a detailed description of each cheese with suggested wine pairings and flavor notes:
While this blog unfortunately doesnâ€™t have taste-o-vision, below are photos of each cheese, as well as the included description in the notes. First off, Robiola Nostrano (Mild):
â€œThe Robiola Nostrano is produced by Stagionatura Guffanti in northwest Italy. The cheese tastes a little like a Brie but it delivers a luscious flavor that you do not find in the bries we have available to us in the US. The soft unctuous texture is especially pleasing. The rind allows for good air exchange that enhances the overall quality of the cheese. This version is made with all cowsâ€™ milk, though occasionally they have one available that has other milks added. The Robiola Nostrano is not a cheese that you will have to worry about having any leftovers; they are so delicious that they are invariable finished properly.â€
The texture of this cheese is rich, creamy and luxurious on the tongue. The taste is mild, hence the recommendation to start with this cheese, and what a delightful start it is!
In the Medium category, we have Stella Royale:
â€œStella Royale is a traditional style of pressed sheep milk cheese from northwest Spain. The milk for this especially nutritious cheese comes from the Churra breed, a native of the region that is able to thrive throughout the extremes of the seasons. The high quality milk produces a cheese with a full-flavored nutty flavor that lingers luxuriously on the palate.â€
The Stella holds its own with a drier, slightly crumbly texture and just the lightest hint of a bite. I especially enjoyed it with the tiniest nibble of fig cake â€“ the sweet and salty juxtaposition was very satisfying!
The Bold selection was Tomme Fermiere dâ€™ Alsace:
â€œTomme Fermiere dâ€™Alsace is a firm, washed-rind (smear) cowâ€™s milk cheese made in the Alsace region of France. We receive this cheese into our caves and continue the maturing process for an additional two to four months, washing each wheel several times with a light Alsatian wine. This dramatically accentuates the lactic flavors and develops long, fruity notes with hints of mushrooms, grass and butter.â€
Unlike the Robiola, this cheese has a firmer, more robust texture â€“ however, it is just as creamy and buttery. I tasted notes of the wine wash on the Tomme Fermiere dâ€™Alsace, which I especially appreciated. Heavenly!
To round off the plate, we finish with a Strong selection, the Bleu dâ€™Auvergne:
â€œBleu dâ€™ Auvergne is a name-protected (Denomination Origine Protected, DOP) cheese from the Auvergne region in south-central France, where it has been made since the middle of the 19th century. Bleu dâ€™Auvergne is made in the traditional manner from cowâ€™s milk and features blue veining throughout. Its moist, sticky rind conceals a soft paste possessing a grassy, herbaceous and (with age) spicy, pungent taste. Here at the Artisanal Premium Center, we allow this cheese to drain until it reaches the creamy consistency we desire. Bleu dâ€™Auvergne pairs well with Alsatian Rieslings and classic dessert wines such as a Sauternes.â€
I said I wouldnâ€™t name favorites, but that was before I met Bleu dâ€™Auvergne â€“ if you love blues, you will LOVE this cheese; I sure did! Suuuper creamy, tangy and very â€œspicy,â€ this was the perfect specimen of a blue. I dare you to find a better one, I dare you!
And below is a group photo, arranged as suggested by the Cheese Clock guide! Yummmm:
Iâ€™m waiting for my sister to enjoy the cheese with me this coming weekend, but as you can tell from my descriptions, Iâ€™ve sampled a small portion of each â€“ and they are gooooood. I canâ€™t wait to try a heartier portion of each variety this weekend, but my favorite thus far is the Bleu dâ€™Auvergne (couldnâ€™t you tell? haha) â€“ its juxtaposition of creamy texture and tangy bite is heavenly. Iâ€™m a lucky girl! I think this may be my favorite â€œthing-of-the-monthâ€ Iâ€™ve ever encountered. Now if only there were lifetime subscriptionsâ€¦
For more information, contact:
Black Twig Communications
314-255-2340 x 103
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Cheese Connoisseur Announces Book Signing Tour in St. Louis Author Max McCalman will be making appearances at five Schnucks locations
NEW YORK (July 20, 2011) â€“ Artisanal Brands, Inc. (OTCQB:AHFP) today announced that Max McCalman, Dean of Curriculum and MaÃ®tre Fromager at Artisanal Premium Cheese Center, will hold a book signing in St. Louis, Missouri on July 29 and 30 to promote his third book, Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a MaÃ®tre Fromager. McCalman will appear at the following St. Louis locations:
Friday, July 29, 2011:
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Schnucks Arsenal, 5505 Arsenal Road
1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Schnucks Richmond Center, 6600 Clayton Road
4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Schnucks Ladue, 8867 Ladue Road
Saturday, July 30, 2011:
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Schnucks Lindbergh, 10275 Clayton Road
1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Schnucks Des Peres, 12332 Manchester Road
â€œMax is one of the cheese worldâ€™s most respected authorities on artisan cheeses and he has been a highly visible advocate for artisan cheesemakers around the world,â€ said Daniel W. Dowe, president and CEO of Artisanal. â€œMastering Cheese is the first of Maxâ€™s books to include extensive information on the artisan cheese revolution in the United States. We are all very appreciative of the work Max has done for our company and the entire industry.â€
McCalman is America’s first restaurant-based MaÃ®tre Fromager, and Garde et Jure as designated by France’s Guilde des Fromagers. He joined New York City-based restaurant Picholine in 1994 where he created the restaurant’s fabled cheese program with Chef-Proprietor Terrance Brennan. McCalman later established the critically acclaimed cheese programs at Artisanal Brasserie & Fromagerie restaurant, followed by the Artisanal Cheese Center, both in New York City.
In Mastering Cheese, McCalman condenses his vast knowledge into a single, one-of-a-kind volume that is the ultimate masterâ€™s class on cheese. The book presents in-depth information on everything from production methods and the laws that govern cheese naming, to choosing what cheese to buy at the grocery store and what wines or beers to pair with it. Organized into twenty-two distinct lessons, each lesson focuses on eight to 15 cheeses and ends with how-to information on creating a tasting plate from the knowledge garnered, bringing the experience to delectable life.
Mastering Cheese won “Best in the World Book on Cheese” for 2011 from the esteemed Gourmand International World Cook Book Awards, and was a finalist in the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Food & Beverage Reference/Technical category for 2011.
Artisanal Premium Cheese recently launched its products in St. Louis area Schnuck Markets along with its four-color cheese selection and wine and beer pairing system called the CheeseClock by Artisanalâ„¢. The CheeseClock by Artisanalâ„¢ gives consumers the guidance they need to confidently purchase cheeses and pair them with wines and beers in the very same fashion as a professional chef would present them in fine dining from mild to strong. Cheeses available include: (mild) Laurier, Rocky Sage, Brillat Savarin, Geit-in-Stad; (medium) Camembert, Pecorino Sardo, Tarraluna, Stella Royale; (bold) Uplands Pleasant Ridge, Artisanal 2-year Cheddar, Tomme Fermiere Dâ€™Alsace; (strong) Gouda Aged 4-years, North Country Blue, La Peral, Artisanal Roquefort.
About Artisanal Premium Cheese
Artisanal Brands, Inc. markets and distributes a line of specialty, artisanal and farmstead cheese products, as well as other related specialty food products under its own brand to food wholesalers and retailers, as well as directly to consumers through its catalogue and Web site, artisanalcheese.com. The company is based in New York, New York. For more information about Artisanal, visit www.artisanalcheese.com.