As the co-founder of Forever Cheese, Michele Buster has been instrumental in bringing incredible cheese to the U.S.— from Pecorino Romano from the Fulvi family to La Mancha’s premium Manchego to Paski Sir from Pag Island, Croatia. She’s developed markets for cheeses, brands, and specialty products and done it all with tenacity, discernment and passion.
Switzerland delivers eye-popping beauty whenever you visit, but in summertime, the high mountain meadows roll out a welcoming carpet of lush green grass popping with colorful wildflowers. The Alps’ irresistible allure dazzles even the locals. On any given day, you’ll find families, couples both young and old, groups of friends as well as solo hikers enjoying the trails, the scenic lakes, a picnic or a bike ride in their mountainous backyard. And what will you always find in their picnic basket? Cheese, of course!
Humility is among the core values Chief Executive Jim Sartori lists as central to his family-owned cheese business, Sartori Co. But maintaining that tenet is no simple feat for a business that’s made a name for itself by producing some of the world’s best cheeses.
In March, Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano was named the best cheese in the country, outscoring more than 2,000 entries from 33 states. The cheese headed up a laundry list of Wisconsin-made cheeses that earned top honors in the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.
So, your foodie friends are forming a monthly dinner club to share meals and newfound recipes. The fun couple brings the dessert. The couple paying off that La Cornue rotisserie gets the main dish. The guy with the wine frig chooses the wine. That means you bring the… oh, come on… salad.
Celebrated wine aficionado, Ron Kapon, who is known in wine circles as the Peripatetic Oenophile — the traveling wine expert — answers questions that Cheese Connoisseur readers have asked.
Cheese Connoisseur: What is sake?
Ron Kapon: Sake or saki (pronounced sah-keh) is a naturally-fermented alcoholic beverage made from a combination of rice, water, yeast and koji.
Because sake is fermented, not distilled, it is not a spirit. It is more akin to beer than wine, as it is produced from rice, which is a grain, rather than from a fruit. However, flavor-wise, sake is closer to wine than beer.
Italian food is ubiquitous across the United States. Mall food courts have a requisite pizza place selling pepperoni-topped slices to hungry shoppers. Lasagna is a staple at the dinner table, and school cafeterias offer minestrone as the soup of the day. Bruschetta is on the appetizer menu at neighborhood bars, and coffee shops stock biscotti in the bakery case. At the grocery store, it’s easy to find prosciutto, gnocchi and dozens of flavors of gelato.
Since the earliest days of American artisan cheese, the type of milk used to make curd has evolved rapidly. At first, it was all about goat, with pioneering Francophiles like Laura Chenel and Judy Schaad turning the country onto fresh Chevre. Then, still borrowing from European traditions, raw became a focus; then organic, then grass-fed. We’ve seen a renewed interest in vegetable rennets, followed by a push to turn almonds, cashews and coconuts into vegan artisan cheese.
Back in the day, the best way to find great restaurants was to look for the parking lots with the most cars. It’s still a good idea to keep your eyes peeled on parking lots, but these days smart shoppers look for parked food trucks with the longest lines for a taste of the new and unusual.
Top chefs sometimes man the busiest food vending vehicles selling creative dishes at discounted prices. Make no mistake, those with grilled cheese, which can be replicated at home, are not serving your mother’s version.
Looking for a unique gift idea for your cheese-loving friend or a conversation piece at your next gathering? These accessories will take your presentation to a whole new level.