Casu Marzu: An Illegal Cheese

Casu Marzu:                                                An Illegal Cheese

Those with a weak stomach may want to stop reading now, as there is an Italian cheese delicacy that is not for the faint of heart.

In a past issue, Cheese Connoisseur detailed the making of Anthill cheese, chèvre topped with citrus-flavored ants originating from Australia.

Italy’s Casu Marzu takes pairing cheese and insects a big step further. Known as ‘maggot cheese’ and originating from Sardinia, this variety includes thousands of live maggots.

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DEBUT OF A DAIRY DISPENSARY

Just by its name alone, one would assume the world’s first CBD Dispensary, created by the Tracy, CA-based California Milk Advisory Board, was a place to purchase a popular supplement extracted from the cannabis plant.

But this CBD stands for California Based Dairy, and this pop-up dispensary featured cheese, ice cream, yogurt and butter—also mood enhancers, but of a different type.

The pop-up with a play on words brought in 515 attendees to Venice, CA on February 22 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and there was absolutely no CBD or THC involved.

“Instead, it offered a dairy boost, which is a natural and wholesome mood enhancer,” says Jennifer Giambroni, director of communications for the California Milk Advisory Board. “Dairy foods are something that delight and should be celebrated as part of our heritage.”

She adds that many take dairy for granted, and the pop-up makes it more current and relevant, while providing a new way to look at these foods.

The pop-up was based off of a marijuana dispensary model. Customers received a personalized dispensary card upon arrival at the sleekly-designed venue.

They then visited four stations offering various strains of dairy and mood enhancements:

•       Different strains of cheese to fit any mood, served in apothecary jars

•       Rolled ice cream on demand in various flavors, prepared by a Dairytender

•       Savory yogurt served in jars with custom infusions and mix-ins

•       Melted butter micro-dosed on popcorn pieces

After visiting each station, customers received a Real California Milk seal stamp. When they completed the card, they received a sealed product sample bag to take home.

The California Milk Advisory Board provided attendees with dairy documents containing origin information and mood outcome insight to guide selections.

“The goal was to showcase natural dairy products in an interesting way, while telling a story and tying in what happens on the farm to what happens in the home through these products,” says Giambroni.      

Mac and Cheese Festival Expands

Mac and Cheese Festival Expands

Mac and cheese lovers take note, there may be a festival near you where you can indulge in your favorite cheesy dish.

The Mac and Cheese Festival, which debuted in Baltimore; Pittsburgh, PA; and Richmond, VA last year, is now expanding to two more cities in 2020.

The event is scheduled for:
• Scranton, PA’s Montage Mountain on April 18
• Baltimore’s Power Plant Live on May 16-17
• Buffalo, NY’s Buffalo River Works on May 2
• Pittsburgh, PA’s Highmark Stadium on September 21
• Richmond, VA’s Raceway Complex on October 12.

“My goal is to help small producers make more money and profit by doing small festivals,” says Charlie Adler, founder of TasteUSA Festival Management, which runs the festivals. “I work with small cheese people, wine producers and craft brewers and market their product at the event.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to vote on some of these areas’ most popular mac and cheese dishes. The vendor’s dish with the most votes wins $500 and bragging rights to the Best Mac and Cheese in their region.

“Last year, the Baltimore festival sold out on Saturday and the Pittsburgh event had over 3,500 people in one day,” says Adler. “We average 3,000 people per day.”

The festival is divided into two sessions, both of which are expected to sell out quickly. The first session runs from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. followed by the second session from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The entry fee is $20 in advance, not including food samples. General Admission tickets cost $40 in advance and include 10 mac and cheese tickets and one drink ticket for an alcoholic or a non-alcoholic drink. At $55 in advance, VIP tickets entitle attendees to enter sessions a half hour early, 10 mac and cheese tickets, two drink tickets as well as provide access to private bathrooms and a VIP area.

The Mac and Cheese Festival will also host a selection of vendors serving craft beers, ciders and wine.

There are between 15 and 30 vendors, with each selling two kinds of mac and cheese. Festivals also feature live music or a DJ and games; however, food and drinks are the focus.

“At the Baltimore fest last year, a vendor with brisket mac and cheese didn’t have a line less than 200 people all day, and the doughnut mac and cheese was another best seller,” says Adler. “Mac and cheese fests go viral. There are 100 each year in this country, but they can be hard to find. My goal is to make them more accessible.”

For more information on Adler’s mac and cheese festivals, visit macandcheesefestival.com.

The Romance of Pit Cheese

Celebrating Formaggio di Fossa di Sogliano

The Romance of Pit Cheese

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.

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Tea With A Touch Of Cheese

Los Angeles’ Little Fluffy Head Café is dedicated to this Chinese treat

Tea With A Touch Of Cheese

When Jenny Zheng traveled to southern china two years ago, she witnessed the popularity of a beverage not commonly seen in the United States.

“When I first heard of cheese tea, I had no idea what it was,” she says. “Like any Millennial, I had to try it, so I went to a cheese tea shop while I was in China, and I fell in love with the taste immediately.”

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