This issue’s cover story on David Gremmels, president of Rogue Creamery, is compelling, partially because David is fascinating, partly because it reveals the complexity of making great cheese, which is engrossing, and partly because the specifics of his story — southern Oregon, organic, a “world’s finest mission,” pears, Syrah grape leaves, etc. — are just so emotive and so rooted in a time and place. These all play into the definition of terroir that goes beyond environmental factors to incorporate the cultural and business eco-system in which a cheese is produced.
This is the time of year when entertaining is on everyone’s mind. Now is when cheese buying blooms. To make the process more difficult, there are new cheeses and choices available at more locations.
The simplest way to make great choices is to visit your favorite cheese market and let the in-house cheese monger decide for you or at least guide you. If you are not allowed to sample each cheese you purchase, just walk away. With a few questions, most mongers will be able to point you in the best direction for your tastes. Include quantity recommendations, pairing suggestions and different varieties that go well together, and you have your own personal consultant.
As I sit here, I’m finding it difficult to write an editorial about cheese when so many people are facing devastating circumstances from Hurricane Harvey. One of the first things that comes to mind is how we take basic necessities for granted – clean water, medical care, safe places to gather, our homes and food – and how we should never be so complacent that we forget what can be ripped apart in an instant.
For most consumers, the day is long past where the only place to purchase specialty cheese is a high-end specialty store. The news reports are filled with speculation as to how Amazon’s expected takeover of Whole Foods might impact both organizations and their offerings. That is for the future… immediately, though, consumers are being offered a new opportunity to shop at “deep-discounter” retailers.
Most people don’t care for snobs, unless you are the cheese snob. In that case, you are a favorite party friend who will always be asked to bring the cheese plate. The trick to becoming a working snob is to understand the basics and have four or five favorites that you know by name and cheesemaker. For simplicity’s sake, the seven categories are: Blue cheese, Cheddar, Alpine, soft-ripened, washed rind, Gouda and fresh goat. Continue reading →