While the Netherlands is renowned for its 17th century old master paintings, IJmuiden-born Betty Koster is famous these days for refining another local art form with 12th century antecedents. In the realm of Dutch masterpieces, cheeses from Koster’s Fromagerie L’Amuse — including her signature two-year warm-cellar-aged Gouda L’Amuse and Brabander, an uncommon goat Gouda — are celebrated as among the very finest cheeses in Holland and beyond. Only a few are imported into the U.S.
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.
For the lucky, such as Greek-American chef and cookbook author Michael Psilakis, Feta cheese has held a long celebrated place in the kitchen and in cuisine since childhood.
“My memories of Feta growing up are very vivid,” he says. “It was always on the kitchen table, and I was always grabbing a little piece. As the seasons changed, there was something different next to it. In the summer, there was watermelon. The sweet watermelon of summer with the salty, briny, tangy flavor of Feta cheese — it was like a roller coaster of flavor in your mouth.”Continue reading →
Big is a small word that succinctly describes the role cheese mecca Murray’s Cheese has played in Rob Kaufelt’s life. The relationship began in 1991 when Kaufelt — badly in need of a job after a failed New Jersey business venture and divorce — moved to Greenwich Village looking to start over. He got his big break when, by chance, he was standing in Murray’s Cheese and learned that New York’s oldest cheese store had recently lost its lease and owner Lou Tudda was thinking of returning to Italy.
It’s a sub-zero December evening in small-town northern Vermont, and the dining room of the Highland Lodge is packed. A side closet overflows with down coats and wet snow boots. In one corner of the dining room, rosy-cheeked people of all ages circle around a fondue pot, while on the other side, revelers in holiday sweaters graze across small mountains of cheese wedges. A shout goes out for everyone to quiet down, and a man with a gray sweater and five o’clock shadow stands up on a chair above the crowd. “2016 was a rough year,” he says, “But I’ve got a feeling 2017 is going to be Jasper Hill’s best year yet.” The crowd smiles and raises their drinks in agreement, before joining in a joyous cheer. They are on board with Mateo Kehler. “Something special is happening here.”
Editor’s Note: One afternoon I received a call from Sebastien Lehembre, senior brand manager at Group Savencia (Alouette Brand) asking if I would like to spend a day with Roland Barthélemy “playing with cheese.” To understand my delight, one must understand the respect Barthélemy holds in the international cheese community. Not only did I feel honored, but also surprised and slightly intimidated.
Paula Lambert is mesmerizing shoppers at the northernmost frontier of exurban Dallas. Standing near Murray’s kiosk at the grand opening of Kroger Marketplace in Prosper, TX, she is handing out tastes of Mozzarella Company cheeses. Her friendly, infectious smile; luminous white hair; signature red glasses; and warm, slow voice are a magnet: Kids flirt with her; adults chat her up.
Cheese insiders know Adam Moskowitz. Maybe they do business with Larkin or Columbia Cheese, as most cheese sellers do regularly. Maybe they’ve watched Moskowitz on stage at The Cheesemonger Invitational (CMI), rocking his cow costume and belting out cheese raps. Moskowitz and his businesses deeply impact most territories in the sprawling land of cheese.
Recently, Moskowitz took me on a tour of Larkin, his 40,000 square foot warehouse in Long Island City, Queens. Larkin has 27,000 square feet of cold storage — that day, there were eight truckloads of pickles alone. But mostly, the terrain is vast quantities of cheese, wheels and boxes marked for Pasadena, Denver, Boston and beyond. Many warehouses are caked in grime, but the floors at Larkin glisten. Outside, trucks spill onto the street.
William Shatner is clearly accustomed to being in charge. The former captain of the Starship Enterprise strolls into the 1920s-style Hollywood mansion where his cover shoot is about to take place and proceeds to take command of the situation. “This won’t take long,” he informs the photographer, who has no choice but to agree. And true to his word, the Canadian-born actor emerges from the dressing room twenty minutes later and announces he’s ready to roll.
Top-performing French athletes Muriel Hurtis, Nathalie Péchalat and Victoria Ravva all have something in common besides their deep love of sports. These three talented ladies all share a love of one of the emblems of European culture and French heritage — cheese.
They also all belong to “Mounia et ses Filles à Fromages”, a group of aesthetes, beautiful women and gourmands founded by Mounia Briya, owner of Les Portes Restaurant in Paris. These remarkable women go as wild for the softness of a perfectly ripened Camembert or the fruitiness of a Comté as they do for the latest handbag or pair of trendy stilettos. “Mounia and her cheese chicks” — as translated — hope to assume a certain elegance, in a French way, while affirming their passion for cheese.
CATHY STRANGE STOOD TALL IN THE PROCESSION OF DIGNITARIES. Cloaked and clad in kindred hats, they waited to descend the mezzanine staircase. At the foot of the stairs, cheesemakers, mongers, retailers, and distributors breezed into the elegant room in celebratory anticipation. Sunlight beamed through stained glass family crests set into tall windows illuminating the gilded ceiling, marble floor and an immense sideboard laden with cheese. The crowd hushed as a chime signaled the start of the induction ceremony in Providence, RI, for La Guilde Internationale des Fromagers — La Confrérie de Saint-Uguzon.
It’s a long, windy—and sometimes challenging—ride up to Alison Sweeney’s beautiful Colonial-style home nestled in the Hollywood Hills above Los Angeles. But once you reach the top and get a gander at the panoramic view Ali and her family, husband Dave and kids Ben and Megan, wake up to every morning, you realize it’s well worth the effort. Looking out over the infinity pool that sits in the middle of the well-manicured backyard, all you see for miles and miles below is the City of Angels, and from this vantage point, it looks like heaven.