CHEESE NOTES

It’s that time of year again: October brings us the 3rd annual American Cheese Month! Once again, the American Cheese Society, partnering with cheesemongers and cheese makers around the country, are presenting a month of events, as well as the American Cheese Month Passport Program, through which individual mongers offer a 20-40% discount on a different cheese each day in October. Restaurants will also be featuring American-made cheeses on their menus, cheese makers and cheese guilds will be hosting “meet the cheesemaker” events, and much more: 

October is American Cheese Month!
What?
American Cheese Month is a celebration of North America’s delicious and diverse cheeses, and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers, and chefs who bring them to your table.
When?
October 1- 31 (annually)
Where?
Wherever there is cheese and wherever there are cheese lovers.  American Cheese Month is your chance to spread the word, experience great American cheeses, and help support and promote great cheese, local communities, and passionate producers.
Who?
Everyone who loves cheese!  Get creative – we’ve got some ideas to get you started on our Get Involved page. 
Why?
To recognize and raise awareness of the quality and diversity of American cheeses
To support and promote great cheese, local foods, family farms, traditional methods, and sustainable production models
To generate funding for the American Cheese Education Foundation – if you hold an event, please consider donating a portion of proceeds to help the American cheese community educate its members and the public.  Your donation helps ensure the highest quality, safest, most wholesome, and diverse cheeses can reach consumers via well-trained and certified folks behind your local cheese counter.

Learn more at the American Cheese Month site! And visit your local retailer to pick up your ACM Passport. In past years, mongers such as Murray’s, Saxelby’s, Brooklyn Larder, Lucy’s Whey, Stinky, Artisanal, Eastern District, Bedford Cheese Shop and more have participated, offering steep discounts on some of the best domestic cheeses.

It’s that time of year again: October brings us the 3rd annual American Cheese Month! Once again, the American Cheese Society, partnering with cheesemongers and cheese makers around the country, are presenting a month of events, as well as the American Cheese Month Passport Program, through which individual mongers offer a 20-40% discount on a different cheese each day in October. Restaurants will also be featuring American-made cheeses on their menus, cheese makers and cheese guilds will be hosting “meet the cheesemaker” events, and much more: 

October is American Cheese Month!

What?

American Cheese Month is a celebration of North America’s delicious and diverse cheeses, and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers, and chefs who bring them to your table.

When?

October 1- 31 (annually)

Where?

Wherever there is cheese and wherever there are cheese lovers.  American Cheese Month is your chance to spread the word, experience great American cheeses, and help support and promote great cheese, local communities, and passionate producers.

Who?

Everyone who loves cheese!  Get creative – we’ve got some ideas to get you started on our Get Involved page. 

Why?

To recognize and raise awareness of the quality and diversity of American cheeses

To support and promote great cheese, local foods, family farms, traditional methods, and sustainable production models

To generate funding for the American Cheese Education Foundation – if you hold an event, please consider donating a portion of proceeds to help the American cheese community educate its members and the public.  Your donation helps ensure the highest quality, safest, most wholesome, and diverse cheeses can reach consumers via well-trained and certified folks behind your local cheese counter.

Learn more at the American Cheese Month site! And visit your local retailer to pick up your ACM Passport. In past years, mongers such as Murray’s, Saxelby’s, Brooklyn Larder, Lucy’s Whey, Stinky, Artisanal, Eastern District, Bedford Cheese Shop and more have participated, offering steep discounts on some of the best domestic cheeses.

High-res The always tasty ”Artisan Cheese on a stick” of Cheese Pops, available at Smorgasburg. With cold weather approaching (this weekend’s 80F temperatures notwithstanding), Cheese Pops has also added fondue by the cup, so you can grab and go with some molten cheese, dipping breads and cornichons! Check them out Saturdays and Sundays at Smorgasburg and say hi to owners Luke and Nathan, the two NYC cheese world veterans behind this venture; if you’re interested in having them cater an event, check out their site. 

The always tasty ”Artisan Cheese on a stick” of Cheese Pops, available at Smorgasburg. With cold weather approaching (this weekend’s 80F temperatures notwithstanding), Cheese Pops has also added fondue by the cup, so you can grab and go with some molten cheese, dipping breads and cornichons! Check them out Saturdays and Sundays at Smorgasburg and say hi to owners Luke and Nathan, the two NYC cheese world veterans behind this venture; if you’re interested in having them cater an event, check out their site

High-res Vnews.com has a profile of Spring Brook Farm, makers of the ACS Best Of Show 2014 cheese, Tarentaise Reserve:

Cheesemaker Grows and ProspersReading, Vt.’s Spring Brook Farm Wins a Coveted National Award
The faint smell of butterscotch hangs in the cool air as hundreds of 20-pound wheels of Alpine-style cheese lining the wooden shelves ripen in the aging room at Spring Brook Farm in Reading, Vt.A few years ago, when the cheese-making program was just getting started at Spring Brook and there were many fewer rounds on the shelves, the rich, creamy aroma of Tarentaise and Reading cheeses was much more prominent.
Although the scent of aging cheese was pleasant then, its absence now in the room’s tightly controlled 52-degree atmosphere is perhaps one of the many signs that the cheese production at Spring Brook has evolved into a business that will for the first time this year start paying for itself.
“As we’ve learned how to do this, we’ve gotten a lot better at it,” said Jamie Stephenson, the director of the cheese program. “We’ve worked hard to understand the space (in the aging room) and modify it, and we’ve learned a lot more about air circulation and bringing in fresh air.”
Stephenson is tall, thin for a man who spends his days around cheese. He could be an artist, a construction worker or a cheese merchant, all occupations he has on his resume. He and the rest of the crew at Spring Brook have gained a national reputation for being good at their craft. He’s also the man at the helm of what has become a $1 million-a-year business that is primed to receive one of its industry’s biggest awards.
This year at the American Cheese Society competition in Sacramento, Calif., Spring Brook’s Tarentaise Reserve was recognized as the Best of Show among 1,600 others vying for the top cheese honors. The Society is recognized as the leading organization in the country supporting the understanding, appreciation and promotion of farmstead, artisan and specialty cheeses. This is the second year in a row that a Vermont cheese has won the Best in Show award. Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vt., won last year. Spring Brook is holding an annual open house on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for community residents. As part of the event, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Jasper Hill representatives will pass the black marble trophy on to Spring Brook to hold for a year, Stephenson said.

Read the full story.
(Photo ©2014 Vnews.com)

Vnews.com has a profile of Spring Brook Farm, makers of the ACS Best Of Show 2014 cheese, Tarentaise Reserve:

Cheesemaker Grows and Prospers
Reading, Vt.’s Spring Brook Farm Wins a Coveted National Award

The faint smell of butterscotch hangs in the cool air as hundreds of 20-pound wheels of Alpine-style cheese lining the wooden shelves ripen in the aging room at Spring Brook Farm in Reading, Vt.A few years ago, when the cheese-making program was just getting started at Spring Brook and there were many fewer rounds on the shelves, the rich, creamy aroma of Tarentaise and Reading cheeses was much more prominent.

Although the scent of aging cheese was pleasant then, its absence now in the room’s tightly controlled 52-degree atmosphere is perhaps one of the many signs that the cheese production at Spring Brook has evolved into a business that will for the first time this year start paying for itself.

“As we’ve learned how to do this, we’ve gotten a lot better at it,” said Jamie Stephenson, the director of the cheese program. “We’ve worked hard to understand the space (in the aging room) and modify it, and we’ve learned a lot more about air circulation and bringing in fresh air.”

Stephenson is tall, thin for a man who spends his days around cheese. He could be an artist, a construction worker or a cheese merchant, all occupations he has on his resume. He and the rest of the crew at Spring Brook have gained a national reputation for being good at their craft. He’s also the man at the helm of what has become a $1 million-a-year business that is primed to receive one of its industry’s biggest awards.

This year at the American Cheese Society competition in Sacramento, Calif., Spring Brook’s Tarentaise Reserve was recognized as the Best of Show among 1,600 others vying for the top cheese honors. The Society is recognized as the leading organization in the country supporting the understanding, appreciation and promotion of farmstead, artisan and specialty cheeses. This is the second year in a row that a Vermont cheese has won the Best in Show award. Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vt., won last year. Spring Brook is holding an annual open house on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for community residents. As part of the event, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Jasper Hill representatives will pass the black marble trophy on to Spring Brook to hold for a year, Stephenson said.

Read the full story.

(Photo ©2014 Vnews.com)

High-res This golden wedge is the 16-month Comté, from master affineur Marcel Petite, considered by many to be the master of Comté. Petite ages his cheeses in Granges-Narboz in the Franche-Comté region of France, at Fort Saint-Antoine, a munitions forts built in the 19th century that the French government had abandoned, and Petite purchased in 1966. He started with 300 wheels in the 60’s; today they can have as many as 65,000 at various stages of aging at any given time. 
This Comté was found at Eataly's cheese counter, recommended by head cheesemonger Greg Blais, and comes to them via the Essex St Cheese Co., respected distributors, originally founded by the late Daphne Zepos, in whose honor the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award was created. As Essex says on their site, “Unlike most Comté imported in the U.S., we choose our wheels based on a flavor profile, not on age or price.” This cheese is actually on the younger side compared to some of the Comté’s I’ve featured here (like this beautifully-aged wheel of the Extra Grand Cru that was practically popping with tyrosine crystals), but is a wonderful expression of a perfectly crafted alpine. The paste is dense and creamy, buttery and full on the tongue, with fried onion, hay, hazelnut and tropical fruit notes.
Accompanying it on the slate is some of the outstanding 30-month Prosciutto di Parma that Eataly carries, including the meltingly fatty clavicle cuts on the left. Wrapping a strip of this prosciutto around a triangle of the Comté is pretty much perfection in a bite. 

This golden wedge is the 16-month Comté, from master affineur Marcel Petite, considered by many to be the master of Comté. Petite ages his cheeses in Granges-Narboz in the Franche-Comté region of France, at Fort Saint-Antoine, a munitions forts built in the 19th century that the French government had abandoned, and Petite purchased in 1966. He started with 300 wheels in the 60’s; today they can have as many as 65,000 at various stages of aging at any given time. 

This Comté was found at Eataly's cheese counter, recommended by head cheesemonger Greg Blais, and comes to them via the Essex St Cheese Co., respected distributors, originally founded by the late Daphne Zepos, in whose honor the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award was created. As Essex says on their site, “Unlike most Comté imported in the U.S., we choose our wheels based on a flavor profile, not on age or price.” This cheese is actually on the younger side compared to some of the Comté’s I’ve featured here (like this beautifully-aged wheel of the Extra Grand Cru that was practically popping with tyrosine crystals), but is a wonderful expression of a perfectly crafted alpine. The paste is dense and creamy, buttery and full on the tongue, with fried onion, hay, hazelnut and tropical fruit notes.

Accompanying it on the slate is some of the outstanding 30-month Prosciutto di Parma that Eataly carries, including the meltingly fatty clavicle cuts on the left. Wrapping a strip of this prosciutto around a triangle of the Comté is pretty much perfection in a bite. 

High-res This amber-hued wedge is the Stompetoren Grand Cru, an 18-month aged Gouda that is a  beautiful example of the category. The Stompetoren is made by CONO Kaasmakers, a cooperative of 500 dairy farmers in the north of Holland, about 40 kilometers north of Amsterdam, in the Beemster region of the Netherlands, and is distributed by Kaashandel Remijn. The region is a bit inland, but like much of the country is lowlands and influenced by the nearby ocean coasts, with rich clay soil and sea air making it excellent dairy country. As Peter Verweij of Kaashandel told me, the cheese ages at a slightly higher temperature and humidity, and the caves utilize “ionization” to precisely control the conditions within the caves, allowing for the final product to have a higher moisture and softer texture while also capturing the trademark flavors of an aged gouda.
The honey-gold paste is dense and creamy, fragmenting into big shards when cut, and scattered with tyrosine crystals, giving the cheese a pleasing crunch on the palette. The flavor is rich, sweet and buttery, with butterscotch, whiskey, and hazelnut notes, and a little sharp. The Stompetoren is available at different age points, with the Grand Cru being the longest-aged. 
Purchased at Bedford Cheese Shop. 

This amber-hued wedge is the Stompetoren Grand Cru, an 18-month aged Gouda that is a  beautiful example of the category. The Stompetoren is made by CONO Kaasmakers, a cooperative of 500 dairy farmers in the north of Holland, about 40 kilometers north of Amsterdam, in the Beemster region of the Netherlands, and is distributed by Kaashandel Remijn. The region is a bit inland, but like much of the country is lowlands and influenced by the nearby ocean coasts, with rich clay soil and sea air making it excellent dairy country. As Peter Verweij of Kaashandel told me, the cheese ages at a slightly higher temperature and humidity, and the caves utilize “ionization” to precisely control the conditions within the caves, allowing for the final product to have a higher moisture and softer texture while also capturing the trademark flavors of an aged gouda.

The honey-gold paste is dense and creamy, fragmenting into big shards when cut, and scattered with tyrosine crystals, giving the cheese a pleasing crunch on the palette. The flavor is rich, sweet and buttery, with butterscotch, whiskey, and hazelnut notes, and a little sharp. The Stompetoren is available at different age points, with the Grand Cru being the longest-aged. 

Purchased at Bedford Cheese Shop

Yahoo Food asked some of the cheese experts at the Cellars at Jasper Hill to put together a list of cheeses you might not expect to find on cheeseburger — but should (pictured are my photos of some of the cheeses listed): 

10 Cheeses You Would Never Think to Put on a Burger

What do you get when you mix National Cheeseburger Day with four expert Vermont cheesemongers? 

You get a whole lot of awesome, is what—the sorts of unique combos that will make you totally re-think your go-to orange American slice or fat, doesn’t-melt-so-well hunk of cheddar.

The fine folks at Jasper Hill Farm, who make the unctuous blue cheese pictured above, put their heads together to create this crack list of the top 10 cheeses you should slap on your next burger.

The cheeses include: Mons Gabietou, Neal’s Yard Dairy Kirkham’s Lancashire, Columbia Cheese Scharfe Maxx, Spring Brook Farm Reading, Roelli Dunbarton Blue Cheddar, Vermont Creamery Fresh Chèvre, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk, Landaff Creamery Landaff, Bayley Hazen Blue and Cabot Hot Buffalo Wing Cheddar.

Click through for the full descriptions!  

High-res Close up on the beautiful, stony rind of the Walton Umber, from Jos Vulto of Vulto Creamery. Jos has been discussed many times on this blog, and was a former fellow urban cheesemaking club member, aging his cheeses under the sidewalks of Brooklyn at one point, before he opened his creamery in Walton, NY (you can read about him in my piece for Modern Farmer). 
Jos is best known for his washed rind cheeses, the absinthe-washed Miranda being his most celebrated, but the Walton Umber has roots going back to Jos’ earliest cheesemaking experiments. I found this post from Jos’ own blog, from way back in 2010, when he first announced the development of this cheese. Amazing to see how far he’s come since then!
The Walton Umber is a raw cow’s milk, basket molded tomme, gray-brown on the rustic rind with a semi-firm, pale yellow paste underneath. This particular wheel was a bit darker brown on the rind than past versions I’ve had. With a musty, wet-stone aroma, flavors are sweet, earthy and a little bit tangy, with nutty, gamey and wet-hay notes. 
Purchased at Bedford Cheese Shop. 

Close up on the beautiful, stony rind of the Walton Umber, from Jos Vulto of Vulto Creamery. Jos has been discussed many times on this blog, and was a former fellow urban cheesemaking club member, aging his cheeses under the sidewalks of Brooklyn at one point, before he opened his creamery in Walton, NY (you can read about him in my piece for Modern Farmer). 

Jos is best known for his washed rind cheeses, the absinthe-washed Miranda being his most celebrated, but the Walton Umber has roots going back to Jos’ earliest cheesemaking experiments. I found this post from Jos’ own blog, from way back in 2010, when he first announced the development of this cheese. Amazing to see how far he’s come since then!

The Walton Umber is a raw cow’s milk, basket molded tomme, gray-brown on the rustic rind with a semi-firm, pale yellow paste underneath. This particular wheel was a bit darker brown on the rind than past versions I’ve had. With a musty, wet-stone aroma, flavors are sweet, earthy and a little bit tangy, with nutty, gamey and wet-hay notes. 

Purchased at Bedford Cheese Shop