Carlos Yescas has been a diplomat, professor and united nations expert. He still juggles a number of jobs, including raw milk cheese advocate, cheese judge and researcher. Born in Mexico, Yescas, 40, also distributes Mexican cheeses and is currently setting up a Latin American cheesemaker network to connect producers there with “scientists, gastronomers, chefs, researchers and historians,” from around the world. He hopes to keep traditional cheesemaking going and growing in Latin America and around the globe, which he explains is in danger of disappearing. Oh, and he also throws clay in his spare time.
Laura Chenel’s was founded by its namesake in 1979, though starting a cheese company was not her initial goal. As a young woman, Chenel was someone who traveled a great deal and was an early adaptor of the belief that one should provide their own food. She grew and made what she could, and acquired some goats, too, in the process.
Margaret Cicogna is one of the united state’s leading authorities on Italian cheese. “People call me the Cheese Lady,” she told Cheese Connoisseur over coffee in New York City. “But I do a lot more than cheese. I went to school. I have a family.” Still, Cicogna’s deep knowledge and passion for cheese, and close relationships with the producers she’s worked with over many decades, have more than earned her the title.
Some would say that biting into a sweet, sticky, squishy fig has been a gastronomic pleasure since the beginning of time. Fig trees purportedly shaded Adam and Eve and provided them with their first hint of clothing. Archaeologists have found fig branches next to human remains that date from more than 7,000 years ago. Some scientists believe the fruit trees may have been among the first domesticated crops.
We don’t have to tell you that Mozzarella di Bufala is a miraculous food. One bite of its milky, sweet, pure, gooey, silky perfection is all it takes to convert chefs, diners, consumers and foodies.
Gouda From The Netherlands is one of the world’s most popular cheeses, and one of Holland’s most renowned exports. It’s also a huge category that encompasses many styles, from artisanally-produced farmhouse cheeses to factory-made wheels. The format of Gouda can be small, gigantic or somewhere in between. Wheels can be crafted with cow, sheep or goat’s milk. For a cheese with such truly diverse varieties, one thing is consistent when it comes to Gouda—it’s a true crowd-pleaser. Kids, grownups, cheese lovers and devoted curd nerds seem to agree that this cheese is often fantastic and definitely craveable.
For years, I’ve served dishes that were spontaneously created from my refrigerator or made with food—sometimes slightly dried or in need of trimming—that otherwise might get thrown away. My kids ate countless minestrones, chilies and even tossed salads that were never the same from one version to the next. The fact is, I disdain wasting food, plus I think those bits can add style, texture, color and taste.
People like to throw around superlatives when talking about the colossus of curd clout, that holey wheel so familiar, it has its own emoji—Emmentaler. It’s been called the world’s largest cheese, Switzerland’s most popular and one of the U.S.’s most imported. And according to Alfred Rufer, vice director of the Emmentaler Appellation d’Origine Protegée (AOP), it’s also the most copied.
The nearest airport is the Pau Pyrenees, located in the commune of the department of Pyrenees-Atlantique, our entry into the Basque country and the place our search for the treasure called Jambon de Bayonne—one of the most exquisite dry-cured hams in the world—begins.