I have been working at the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center as an intern from The Culinary Institute of America for the last three months, in many different areas of the company, ranging from affinage and production to P.R. and event promotion. I have worked directly with cheese expert Max McCalman, as well as with Artisanal Roastmaster Keith Geter. I have accompanied fromager Waldemar Albrecht to promotional events, and ventured to the James Beard awards where I helped cut and serve cheese to hundreds of foodies and celebrities alike. I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment Iâ€™ve spent here, but I must say that personally selecting the cheeses for the Cheese and Wine 101 class has been my favorite endeavor yet.
Max asked me to take a walk through our cheese caves to see if I could come up with a tentative list of cheeses to use in our Cheese & Wine 101 class. I excitedly agreed as I pulled out my notepad and began jotting down ideas. I knew what types I wanted to use; a fresh goat, an aged goat for comparison, a mild aged sheep, a washed rind stinker, a wild-ball eye opener, a well known cheese the way itâ€™s meant to be done, and a classic blue. Max told me to keep in mind progression and variety, as we always do. This was my selection:
1. Laurier, a Vermont goat cheese exclusive to Artisanal
2. Monte Enebro, a Spanish aged goat cheese
3. Zamorono, a delightfully nutty Spanish sheep cheese
4. Queijo Serra da Estrela, a bold, herbaceous Portuguese cheese
5. Barely Buzzed, rind rubbed in espresso and lavender
6. Four year aged Gouda, a classic firm cheese
7. Roquefort Artisanal, a classic French bleu made with sheepâ€™s milk
I sent my original proposal to Max and he agreed with my selections. I felt, upon completion, a joy I had not yet known. This was my cheese list. I selected these cheeses for people to eat. I was proud of my selection and during the class everything seemed to taste five times better than I remembered. The guests enjoyed themselves just as much as any other night, only this time I had a hand in their pleasure. I have since followed a similar process to choose cheeses for other classes. I feel like this was a very prominent landmark in my stay here, since when I started in April, I knew nothing about cheese. I owe it all to my coworkers here at the Artisanal Cheese Center; they taught me everything I know.