Thursday, October 21, 2010

Starbucks Establishing Yet Another Trend with Cheese

From its inception, Starbucks has given more thought to the concept and the idea of their brand rather than their product itself, the coffee. This has certainly worked for them with their empire extending now to 49 countries. And in a new twist, the Seattle-based coffee trader is thinking up a new concept for their worldwide brand: adding wine, cheese and charcuterie to their evening offerings.

Really, how could you go wrong combining a coffee lounge with a soft-core bar atmosphere? Customers are always looking for a casual place to relax, read a book or meet up with friends. Some even do serious business in the plush cushioned couches of the quiet hum of espresso machines a-whirl. The company will start with a few stores in Seattle.

This is appealing for someone like myself who shies away from the bar scene, but occasionally would enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese plate for an evening meet-up with a girlfriend. Add to the luxuries of cheese, wine and coffee with music and art with a moderate pricing scheme, and you have a very chic and attractive environment indeed.

Just like the Americans to join the bandwagon late, but always with a loud bang. (Source: The Puget Sound Business Journal)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What do The Beatles and Cheeses Have in Common?

No denying it, English cheeses have proudly soared to the popularity of The Fab Four, The Beatles.

A recent study shows that British cheeses have outpaced their French counterparts at the rate of about two to one, as buying local has become the dominating ethos for the Brits and their longstanding love of cheese. The rise is also attributed to an evolved palate to make a larger place for Stilton, sheep's and goat's milk cheeses. (Source: The

But they're not resting on their own laurels, the French think that English cheeses are worth importing with the latest export figures showing that the demand for English cheese, especially Cheddar and Stilton, has increased considerably. England still imports cheese, but more and more, the taste for their own wins over their love of Brie.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cream Cheese History and Pumpkin Blatherings

Is cream cheese, "creamed cheese"? And, why do we call cream cheese "cheese" at all? Cream cheese, in fact, is essentially cream that has evaporated into a thicker substance that is no longer liquid. So it's not really "creamed" or whipped in any fashion, or, perhaps not even a cheese at all. Maybe a better name would be "cream spread" or "spreading cream".

Regardless, cream cheese has evolved to become an American staple ingredient in many treats especially around the holidays. Ah, the marketing genius of Kraft...

But is cream cheese really from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? In fact, not at all. Cream cheese history fact: Though fresh "cream cheese" has been around since the beginning of domesticated animals, it wasn't until really 1880 that Kraft started distributing the Philadelphia brand name in tin foil wrappers, as it is still done today. Labeling their product this way conveyed "Philadelphia quality" which was a higher standard in the day. Surprisingly, the Philadelphia brand is still superior in taste and texture compared to the generic brands over 130 years later (references: The and The Food

Cream cheese gets me thinking about pumpkins, October, the holidays, cheesecake and "The Great Pumpkin Waltz". How about you? This year I'm eyeing a recipe called Pumpkin Whoopie Pies on Rachel Ray's magazine, "Everyday With Rachel Ray". They're essentially a cream cheese icing sandwiched between 2 little round pumpkin cakes. Holy YUM.

Living in developing countries for the past several years has taught me to appreciate the conveniences of wild and imaginative recipes like this. I'm not sure Americans pause to recognize how good they have it sometimes, being able to walk down the aisle of their grocery store and pick up pureed pumpkin in a can and pumpkin spices (already pre-mixed) and a just a few steps away, go to a refrigerated case replete with a variety of mass-produced dairy products like cream cheese. Who knows, you can probably buy Pumpkin Whoopie Pies already pre-made these days!

As we strive in the recession, aren't we all... remember there are many many others out there without, and be thankful for cream cheese!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe from Sweetie Pie and Soul Food Diva

Must Watch Video: Oh Mama! do I wish I had a soul food diner like this in my neighborhood! Soul food Diva, Robbie Montgomery, has been dishin' out "heaping tablespoons" ;) of her macaroni and cheese for 40 years. Her Southern style macaroni and cheese recipe is a customer favorite at Sweetie Pie's in St. Louis, Missouri. For the rest of us, we'll have to settle on attempting to replicate her recipe in our own kitchens at home (via Helium and The Food Network, with Guy Fieri).