Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Invasion of the Cheese Aliens

A Japanese speaking caucasian woman being attacked by Cheese Aliens? The sense of humor in this is beyond me. Check out this whacky video about cheese aliens, and if anyone can offer an interpretation 10 points for you!

Who would have thought "Cheese and Curry" would be a flavor sensation for a cup of noodles? Thank you, YouTube for broadening our horizons.

Monday, March 29, 2010

4th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival in California's Wine Country

Today marks the end of the 4th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival held in rural Petaluma, California smack dab in the heart of winemaking county.
"Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Cowgirl Creamery, Marin French Cheese Company and Bellwether Farms are a few of the many cheesemakers in southern Sonoma and northern Marin counties — helping to make Petaluma the prime location for the California Artisan Cheese Festival." (see full article)
Artisan cheese is gaining a renewed appreciation, running parallel to the Slow Food movement, where regional and traditional methods of farming and production are encouraged. Handcraftsmenship, rather than mass industrial production, with a reverence for a more basic way of living and eating has gained increasing momentum especially in the last decade.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Coming Out of American Cheese - The 6th Annual Oregon Cheese Festival

There's been an explosion of interest in artisan and farmstead cheeses in the United States as demonstrated in Oregon's 6th Annual Cheese Festival hosted by the historic Rogue Creamery on March 20, 2010.

Typically, Wisconsin and Vermont have been known as the "cheese states" but a whiff is in the air, a new wind of appreciation for cheese in the United States has resulted in many new creameries going online. American cheese is having a coming out of sorts, keeping in stride with their more senior European counterparts.

This was also confirmed in the World Cheese Championships that just took place on March 18, 2010 where 2,300 cheeses were judged by an international panel of judges. Out of 79 categories, New York took 6 gold medals, Idaho took 5, California 4, Vermont 3, Georgia and Pennsylvannia 2, and Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, New Jersey, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon and South Carolina took home 1 gold medal. An astonishing 21 gold medals were awarded to Wisconsin, as JSOnline reports. The world cheese champion for 2010 though, still goes to Switzerland this year. (Source)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cheese World's Equivalent to The Olympics

The olympics of cheese and largest annual cheese competition, The World Cheese Championships, has crowned another Gruyere from Switzerland as best cheese in the world for two years in a row.

The Associated Press reports that Cedric Fragniere, from Emmi Kase in Kirchberg, Switzerland took the grand title. The first runner up, made by Andeer Sennerei, was also from Switzerland clearly distinguishing Switzerland once again, as a premiere cheese maker of the world.

Overall, there were over 79 categories on display in Madison Wisconsin this year, with awards given in each category to cheesemakers from all over the globe. Sheep cheeses from Spain, Havarti and Feta from Denmark, Gouda and Edam from The Netherlands and some surprising stand-outs for Mozzerella, Provolone, Parmesan and Ricotta from the United States are just a few (full list here). France only took one award this year in the Brie category.

U.S. cheesemakers, Tillamook County Creamery from Oregon and Kiel Cheesemakers, Flat Creek Lodge and Cabot Creamery took titles in the Cheddar category, along with Canada and Ireland, something to truly be proud about.

Savvy and curious consumers are propelling the cheese industry to make new varieties of cheese, resulting in the need for new categories in the games this year. The contest winners were announced March 18, 2010 among the 2,300 entries.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Concept Restaurant, L'Art du Fromage, Stinkin' Up London

Introducing a concept-nouveau dining experience in London centered around French and Swiss cheese... cheese, and stinky cheese, please-- in all, about 100 varieties.

Kunal Dutta, from The Independent in London, writes, "The inebriating whiff of Roquefort draws one to the door of L'Art Du Fromage, the first speciality cheese restaurant in Britain. The menu is built around cheese-based dishes: there are fondues, raclettes, a glorified version of cheese on toast and even cheese ice cream."

Julien Ledogar and Jean-Charles Madenspacher are co-conspirators behind this revolutionary stirring in the world of culinary gastronomy. Cheese shoppes... London has, even some with "tasting cafes", but not until now has there been a restaurant entirely devoted to the milky way.

Endeared from the beginning of time, cheese is experiencing a resurgence, a Rennaissance, largely due to its increased accessibility to a well-travelled, wealthier worldwide audience. (Full article here.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Not-So-Sinful-in-Small-Quantities Blue Cheese Dressing

Here's an exceptional recipe for Blue Cheese Dressing that would go very well on a plate of mixed salad greens, red grapes and a nice, hearty hunk of bread on the side.

1/2 cup crumbled aged blue cheese (2 ounces)
1/3 cup buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon roasted walnut oil, optional
Freshly ground black pepper

This very simple recipe requires a food processor, but only takes 5 minutes to make! The only challenge here is getting the ingredients on your shopping list: buttermilk, sour cream, sherry vinegar, walnut oil (optional) and a high quality blue cheese like Roquefert, a Fourme d'Ambert or a Maytag Blue. But once you try this, you'll be keeping a jar of this in your refrigerator on a regular basis!

It's well known that Blue Cheese Dressing goes well with deep fried zucchini, Buffalo wings and celery sticks. But there are other ways you could use Blue Cheese Dressing:
  • On a sandwich instead of mayonnaise or butter. Try this decadent addition on a Roast Beef  or a Roasted Vegetable Sandwich with peppers, eggplant and onions... or, a Raw Veggie Sandwich with sliced cucumbers, bean sprouts and thinly sliced purple onion.
  • As a sauce for your steak or beef entree
  • As a dipping sauce for your crudites.  If you're like me, sometimes I'm simply too lazy to cook vegetables-- instead, I wash them and just eat them raw! Having this Blue Cheese Dressing always in the ready in a jar in the fridge makes a lazy way of eating, something to really look forward to!
  • Drizzled over baked Butternut squash. Really, any squash because of its mild flavors would work well with Blue Cheese Dressing. When you use a high quality cheese and superb ingredients, it doesn't take much to add tremendous flavor to your dish.
Also a fellow blogger, Have Faith, is giving away a food processor! If you'd like to enter, go here. (For original article and full instructions, go here.) 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spinach & Emmental Cheese Omelette for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

"Flipping through" the newspapers online, I found an omelette recipe that sounds great! I don't know about you but I love omelettes, and wonder why I don't make them more often! This variation includes fresh spinach, onion and grated Emmental cheese.

Spinach is so easy to use these days. In the U.S. you can buy it pre-washed, stems trimmed, hand-selected for the best leaves, making eating this healthy, iron-rich leafy green a possibility in a modern lifestyle. In this recipe, you simply sautee some finely chopped "shallot" (onion*) in olive oil (healthier than butter) and throw a handful of spinach in until it wilts. I would also throw in a pinch of sea salt. Then, you remove it to a cutting board and give it a quick chop.

Emmental, also known as Swiss cheese, can also be easily found in grocery markets today. Emmental is a mild, semi-hard, nutty cheese with a bit of a bite that adds a subtle flavor dimension to any dish. As all good melting cheeses go, the result is a creamy-gooey-yummy sensation.

What I love about this recipe is that it's easy, good-for-you, and looks yummy!  For photo and full recipe instructions go here.

* Shallots are just a fancy word for onion. Yes, there are different varieties of onion: yellow, Vidalia white, green spring, the small purple "shallots", etc. Use whatever you have, unless you're making it for some special guests!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cheese Rolling Games in Gloucestershire Cancelled

The hugely popular Cheese Rolling event in Gloucestershire, England has been cancelled this year due to safety concerns. Scheduled to take place in late May, organizers say that due the cheese chase's increased popularity and its unpreparedness to handle the crowds, last year drawing 15,000, they have chosen to put off the chasing of the 7 pound Gloucestershire round until 2011.

This Cheese Rolling tradition has been going on for centuries. A round of the local Gloucestershire cheese gets released at the top of a steep hill and the first one to get it, takes it home. (Source: BBC)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

St. Paddy's Day Raclette

My friend, The Daily Spud, has made the most brilliant post, I have to share it here to remember myself!

In it he shares several, very curious, raw milk cheeses from Ireland... the stinky one, Bellingham Blue, is the one that really piques my interest! There are some amazing photos here.

But what really gets me going is his idea for having a Raclette for St. Patrick's Day. He uses an Irish cheese called St. Gall in place of the traditional Swiss Raclette, and green-colored fruits and vegetables rather than other random-colored ones to keep with the theme.
"The cheese is named for Irish Benedictine monk St. Gall, who, legend has it, not only brought christianity to Switzerland but also taught the Swiss how to make cheese."
Apparently, St. Gall is very similar to its more famous Swiss cousin, Emmental in that it's sweet, nutty and very meltable. That sounds like the perfect cheese to use for a St. Paddy's Raclette. Don't ya think that was so clever The Daily Spud put the two together?  I think it's absolutely brilliant!

Note to the Daily Spud:  You can be my Daily Stud anytime.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Swiss Tastings in London

A Swiss treat from London's oldest food market, Borough's Market in London.

Here we see a half round of Raclette cheese nestled in a raclonette machine, which heats the cheese, in effect roasting the open part near the heating element. The cheese then gets tilted and scraped onto a plate (rind included, mind you!) bearing a small potato with the addition of cornichons, baby dill pickles and baby onions. What looks like a gloppy mess on a plate tastes like nothing short of divine order in your mouth!

Monday, March 8, 2010

World Cheese Heavyweight Championships Held in Madison

The 28th Biennial World Championship Cheese Contest is just around the corner. Cheesemaking contestants from around the globe have been sweating and working it out, preparing for this momentous event in the cheese industry.

Wisconsin's capital city, Madison, will be hosting the championships this March 16-18. Admission is free and open to the public from 8am-5pm. The first round of judging begins on the 18th at 8am and then a second round of finalists will be judged with the World's Cheese Champion announced at noon.

An international panel of judges will be sampling more than 2,300 cheeses and butters from all around the world. This number is significantly up from the last championship in 2008, where a gruyere made by Michael Spycher of Kaserei Fritzenhaus, from Switzerland took the undisputed title.

According to Jane Cisler, marketing director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, new categories of cheese have been made in this year's competition to accomodate an explosion in the varieties that have come on the market.

In our midst is a growing appreciation and fascination with cheese where the recognition of the craft, skill and sport of cheese has finally come due.

For more info, go here.  Read original article here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

NYC's Stinky Cheese Festival 2010 (not kidding!)

NYC's hippest event right now: The Stinky Cheese Festival running from March 3-12th. Nine of the chic-est French restaurants are concocting stinky cheese creations including appetizers, entree and desserts in addition to their regular menus. Participating in this "Tour de France" are:

Cafe D'Alsace: www.cafedalsace.com
French Roast Uptown: www.frenchroastny.com/        
French Roast Downtown: www.frenchroastny.com
Le Monde: www.lemondenyc.com/
(For more information, click here)

"Try region-specific stank from each restaurant, such as l’oeuf d’Alsace (a fricassée of artichoke with a poached egg and melted Grès des Vosges raw-milk Muenster) at Café d’Alsace, or a raclette with braised pork belly and fingerling potatoes at Marseille." (source: NBC New York)
I don't know about you, but this is the kind of stink that the Big Apple should be known for!


4 Tons of Raclette Melted Over the Snow

In the span of the 23 days surrounding the 2010 Olympic games, 4 tons of Swiss cheese and 2 tons of Swiss chocolate were consumed by 60,000 visitors to the House of Switzerland.
“We had to order another shipment of cheese halfway through the Games because it was so popular,” said Swiss chef Beda Zingg."
Raclette and cheese fondue were the main attractions of this hugely successful open-house style event at both national headquarters, one at the Whistler ski resort and one in Vancouver. (source)

Melted raclette cheese being scraped onto some brown bread with pickled baby onions