People like to throw around superlatives when talking about the colossus of curd clout, that holey wheel so familiar, it has its own emoji—Emmentaler. It’s been called the world’s largest cheese, Switzerland’s most popular and one of the U.S.’s most imported. And according to Alfred Rufer, vice director of the Emmentaler Appellation d’Origine Protegée (AOP), it’s also the most copied.
The nearest airport is the Pau Pyrenees, located in the commune of the department of Pyrenees-Atlantique, our entry into the Basque country and the place our search for the treasure called Jambon de Bayonne—one of the most exquisite dry-cured hams in the world—begins.
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.
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.
Pecorino starts with the sheep. It’s even in the name — Pecorino cheese is named after pecora, the word for sheep in Italian. The three Pecorini begin with pure, fresh, whole sheep’s milk from the idyllic island of Sardinia.
When people think about seasonal eating, fruits and vegetables are the first foods that spring to mind. There’s a world of difference between the plump ripe tomato plucked from the vine in July and the pale anemic import offered at the supermarket in the depths of winter. There are other produce changes in flavor and texture throughout the growing season — consider the new potatoes of early summer and their heftier autumn cousins, or compare the tender leaves of young kale to its robust, more mature version.
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