As the senior vice president of merchandising and operations for Murray’s Cheese, Steve Millard wears many hats. “I’m responsible for a little bit everything, it seems like,” he told Cheese Connoisseur with a chuckle.
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.
Some cheeses have a history worth celebrating centuries later. One is Formaggio di Fossa di Sogliano, which is renowned and celebrated at the annual Pit Cheese Festival in Sogliano al Rubicone in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Held on the last two Sundays in November and the first Sunday of December, the festival includes a market selling this cheese, and the ripening pits are open to the public.
Remember that first cheese pairing when the combination of flavors transformed into something sublime on the palate, when a new world of textures and exotic impressions awakened the taste buds to combinations that didn’t seem plausible? In this age of “anything is possible” cheese lovers have a lot to look forward to when selecting pairings.
My first quiche was a voluptuous open-faced tart with smoky lardons, Gruyère and golden strands of sautéed onion baked in custard. It was called a Lorraine, and I was seduced. Later, I learned it was a misnomer according to the French society that defined quiches, saying that only bacon should be in the seasoned custard. With cheese added, it becomes a Vosgienne (referring to the Vosges region of France); sautéed onions in the mix make it Alsaçienne. But Lorraine became the familiar name for many of these savory tarts.
What is the big deal about rennet, and what part does it play in the cheesemaking process?
Cheese is traditionally made with milk, salt, cultures and rennet. Rennet allows cheesemakers to efficiently turn fresh milk into curd, a technique they’ve been using for thousands of years. Over time, milk curds on its own, but by that time, the milk may sour. Rennet speeds up this process so proteins in the milk form curd, and the liquid separates and run off as whey.
The master cheesemakers at Belgioioso Cheese began crafting Crescenza-Stracchino with a purpose a few years ago, mostly to fill the need of a customer’s request. That purpose soon turned into a passion, as the talented group of cheesemakers at the company’s Langes Corners plant in Denmark, WI, fell in love with the challenging process and the nuances of the finished cheese.
The stately city of Richmond lies at the heart of Virginia’s agricultural region. Given that local chefs and food producers have access to the finest fresh ingredients, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the community of 220,000 is experiencing a renaissance in its food culture — one that includes a growing interest in, and appreciation for, cheese.