Punk Pigs from Spain

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Are you a ham-lover? Meat-obsessed? Well you haven't had ham until you've had jamon iberico. This ham is so highly respected there's an international competition centered around creating a tapas plate to compliment it. That's one special meat! 

The cured spanish ham has only been available in the United States since 2007, so it's still a hot commodity in NYC (read about it's arrival here). It can only be made from pigs of a very particular breed and diet, with a very particular manicure.

Another word for the ham is pata negra, a reference to the unique black nails sported by all pure Iberico pigs. I'd like to think that these pigs are the punks of the hog world, but given their fancy diet I'd assume they're probably more the aristocratic types.

Pata Negra is also the name of an adorable restaurant in the East Village that would be the perfect setting for an impressive first date. We learned that the difference between the various hams on the menu came down to how many acorns the pigs had eaten during their life: the longer they have been fed acorns, the more expensive (and delicious) the ham becomes. Since the pata negra was twice as expensive (read: twice as many acorns?) and the waitress described it as a ham for special occasions, we opted to try the regular jamon iberico.

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As soon as the ham arrived, I understood what all the fuss was about. The smell wafting up to us from the table was almost that of cheese, but the first bite was all tender meat with hints of butter and smoke. The ham paired perfectly with the three Spanish cheeses we ordered: a classic Manchego, an ashy Monte Enebro and a special that wasn't on the menu and was extremely salty, smokey, and crumbly (and wasn't my favorite, to tell the truth.)

I highly recommend the restaurant Pata Negra to anyone looking for an intimate, authentic meal of true spanish tapas. And I highly recommend the ham pata negra to anyone looking for a rich, flavorful meat to pair with Spanish cheeses!

Now go out and eat some ham and cheese.

First Bites: Icelandic Cheeses

Have you ever watched someone take their first bite?

When we taste a food for the first time, we embark on a totally new experience. In that moment we surrender a part of ourselves to the unknown, and accept that our taste buds might just detest what we are about to put in our mouths. Tasting a new food is an adventure, so it's not surprising that many people shy away from this daring act. 

While a foodie can use a thousand adjectives to describe a given dish, she can only have one first bite. By observing this bite we can experience the emotion that it evokes from within.

And so I present to you "First Bites", a photo collection of my first encounters with some of the most exciting cheeses I've eaten in the past few months.

First Bites

Installment 1: Icelandic Cheeses

I am so lucky to have friends that contribute to my love of cheese by bringing back bundles of dairy joy from all over the world. 

Recently, my incredible coworker Valdis brought back two cheeses from her visit home to Iceland. Given that the country is cold and covered in snow most of the year, I wasn't surprised that the Icelanders produce fat-packed

 cheeses that melt in your mouth and warm you to the core.

Brie med hvítlauksrönd

Google translate tells me that "Brie med hvítlauksrönd" means "Brie with garlic stripes", and indeed it was a beyond buttery brie rubbed in herbs and striped in garlic.

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Stóri Dímon

"Stóri Dímon" or "Blue and White Mould Cheese" had both a bloomy white rind and blue mold inside. The Icelanders aren't keeping any secrets about their cheese!

Now go out and eat some cheese, and make sure to savor that First Bite.

World According to Cheese on Serious Eats:

Cheese Confessionals: I Ate Casu Marzu, aka 'Maggot Cheese' Serious Eats

Editor's note: When we met Anna (at Murray's Cheese, how fitting) and heard her brave story, we had to let her share it with you. You can read more of Anna's cheese writing on her blog worldaccordingtocheese.com. So, take it away, Anna!
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About a year ago I saw a tweet announcing that the famed Casu Marzu,the cheese banned by the EU until recently, was residing no further than a short train ride from my apartment at a restaurant in Queens. Being a cheese writer, I knew that Casu Marzu was the traditional Sardinian specialty full of live maggots. Being a cheese enthusiast, I saw this as a chance for rare, cheesy adventure.
When I dialed Ornella Trattoria, the owner Giuseppe Viterale launched into a stern lecture explaining that the Casu Marzu was not for sale, that it would never be for sale, and that the only way to get to the cheese was through Giuseppe himself.
"I will give you the cheese if I like you!" he shouted, adding another layer of challenge to the already Fear Factor-esque experience.
I trekked to Astoria accompanied by two ill-fated friends, both of whom offered their support but swore they wouldn't taste the cheese.
We arrived at what appeared to be a cozy, family style restaurant, suggesting not even a hint of the bug-filled horror that would soon ensue. Giuseppe, in contrast to his demeanor on the phone, graciously welcomed us and invited us to enjoy his homemade pasta and exquisite wine.
Throughout our meal Giuseppe visited our table to share the story of Casu Marzu. He explained that the sheep's milk cheese has been made by Sardinian locals for thousands of years in the style of a pecorino. After it's made, it's placed outdoors with a hole cut in the top, through which "cheese flies" enter to lay eggs. The eggs become larvae that devour the cheese, decomposing the fats through digestion and excreting the remains. This fact he emphasized, noting that not only were we eating live maggots, but that the cheese between the bugs was filled with their "poop" (his technical term).

Finally Giuseppe went to the basement and emerged with the Casu Marzu draped in a white cloth. When he unveiled it, I held my breath and peered inside the wheel, expecting teeming maggot mounds but seeing only brainy cheese lumps. The smell was pungent but appealing. "This isn't so bad!" I exclaimed, almost disappointed by the seemingly normal cheese.
To ease our fears, Giuseppe took the first bite and washed it down with a swig of red wine. He then slathered a generous lump on three pieces of toast and placed one in front of each of us. My partners cringed, knowing that they would now have to taste the Casu Marzu to avoid deeply offending our host.

Undaunted, I raised my slice, only to see that it was actually writhing with squirmy little worms. Even as they jumped off my plate, I knew I couldn't back down.
I bit. I chewed. I cringed. My friends grappled with what they had just choked down. It was strong, challenging, but actually very enjoyable. It hinted of gorgonzola and black pepper but left a thick film in my mouth, preventing me from forgetting the little buggies currently digesting inside my stomach.
If Casu Marzu didn't contain live maggots, I might enjoy it. But then again, it's the maggots that give this cheese its greatness.

New Year's Cheese: Bring out the Crowd Pleasers

Happy New Year's Cheese!!!


murray's
For the New Year's party this year, I wanted to put together an uncomplicated cheese plate that would appeal to the taste buds of the masses. As always, I found exactly what I was looking for at Murray's Cheese. No matter how many cheese shops I visit, I always come back to the NYC mothership because I can rely on them to deliver crowd pleasers every time. On this visit to the Grand Central location a lovely lady cheesemonger helped me pick out three cheeses that would make everyone melt into cheesy bliss at the stroke of midnight. These cheeses are my absolute favorites because, like Murray's, I know they'll never disappoint.

1. Brillat Savarin
The famous gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin once said, "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." I wonder what he would say about the people who eat this cheese. Creamy is an understatement for this oozing delight, aged only a few weeks in the Murray's caves before sold at peak perfection. I served it to partygoers on a slice of baguette with a semi-sweet fig jam. Part cream cheese, part butter, this cheese is all parts delicious.


murray's


2. Ewephoria
I first blogged about this candy-cheese in my Oct. 2011 post titled "Ewephoria for the Tastebuds". I fell deeply in love with it then and our affair has continued ever since. The sweetest of all Goudas, Ewephoria was created in Holland specifically to cater to the great American sweet tooth. I was mildly offended by their assumption that our tastes were that simplistic, until I watched as the golden chunks were gobbled down faster than a bowl of M&M's and realized it was true. I'm proud to be an American and I'm proud to love this cheese.

Madame Fromage
Since I can't get my beloved 24 month Gruyere here in the USA without calling on the graces of a traveling Swiss friend, I often use this French Alpine style as a worthy substitute. The Comté is aged for two years like the Gruyere and made in the same fashion, so the only evident difference between the two cheeses is the nationality of the cows. I still prefer the 24 month Gruyere, but I'll happily chow down on this Comté any day. So would all of my fellow NYE revelers.


So there's my New Year's gift to you: a simple cheese plate guaranteed to be loved by all. "This cheese is SO good" was the phrase I heard all night and into the first morning 2013. Though a simple remark, it was said with such emphasis and emotion by each cheese taster that I knew I'd hit the mark and created a truly crowd pleasing cheese plate.

Now go out and resolve to eat more cheese.

Homemade Cream Cheese and the Ideal Bagel

  
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Like most New Yorkers, I am extremely picky about my bagels. Long ago I found my favorite shops where I can count on the dough to be homemade and fresh, and I'm always willing to trek the extra blocks to go to the good bagel shop instead of a nearby cafe that happens to serve ok bagels. I order mine "extra toasted, extra cream cheese" to try to avoid a poor toasting job or insufficient amount of cream cheese, and  I often demand more when I'm not given enough. A bad bagel results in a terrible start to my day, while a good bagel can lead to instant bliss.

A foolproof method for obtaining the perfect bagel is by preparing it yourself at home. A little planning and buying in bulk gives you complete control over the toasting and cream cheese levels (for cheesers like myself this means a B to CC ratio of 1:1) all in the comfort of your own home.

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If you want to get even closer to the perfect bagel, I strongly advise that you make your own cream cheese. It seems challenging, but as I learned in Bedford Cheese Shop's "Fresh Cheese Making Class: Butter, Yogurt, Cream Cheese, Ricotta," all it takes is good milk, some cheese cloth, and a bit of patience.

We made our cheese using this recipe and fresh dairy from a local farmer's market.
Hint: If you start with fresh milk you have a much better chance of ending up with great cheese.


Simple Cream Cheese Recipe
(courtesy of Jessica, who taught this awesome class)

6 cups (1.5 quarts) whole milk
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup plain cultured yogurt
1 rennet tablet (or, 1 teaspoon liquid rennet, normal strength)
¼ cup cool water
Salt

  1. Combine milk, cream, and yogurt in a large pot and stir well.  Warm to 100 degrees F over low heat.  Check temperature with thermometer.  Remove pan from heat.
  2. Dissolve rennet tablet in the water in a small bowl.  Add to warmed milk mixture, and stir thoroughly for 3 minutes (or until curd starts to set).  Cover and let stand for 1 to 1.5 hours or until curds are firm and break away from the sides of the pan.  The temperature should drop no lower than 85 degrees R, slowly reheat to correct temperature.
  3. Cut curds into 2 inch cubes.  Let stand 15 minutes undisturbed.  Lina a colander with a double layer of butter muslin.  Pour or, using a perforated shallow ladle, spoon the mixture into a lined strainer.  Fold the excess cloth over the curds and set the colander in a large bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate to drain 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Transfer the drained cheese to a clean bowl, season to taste with salt, and stir well.  The cheese is ready to be used in flavored cheese spreads or for cooking.
Store the cheese in an airtight container and refrigerate up to two weeks.

Instead of filling a colander, Jessica had us spoon the curd into squares of cheese cloth and instructed us to hang them over a sink to drain overnight. To achieve this, I created a contraption involving a hanger and a bottle of rum. That little cheese ball stank! I anxiously awaited the morning, wondering how something that smelled so bad could ever taste good.

The next day, still holding my nose, I took the drippy cloth to the kitchen and dropped the cheese into a bowl. Adding some salt, I sniffed and sniffed. Then the the toaster popped and I began to smear the new creation over my oh-so-toasted bagel. 
I discovered, to my delight, that this cream cheese tasted INCREDIBLE. The flavor was so much more cheesy, sweet and fatty than the Philadelphia version I thought I adored. To anyone who claims to love cream cheese, you MUST try the at home version. It's well worth the work and wait!


Now go out and eat some homemade cream cheese.

Cheese goes Swanky

Now back in New York, Lea suggested we take advantage of restaurant week (still happening!) and pay a visit to Artisanal Fromagerie, Bistro and Wine Bar, the leader of the high-end New York cheese scene. I had heard it recommended by financiers, lawyers, and the swankiest of New Yorkers, so I knew we were in for a treat.

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Terrance Brennan opened the bistro in 2001, almost ten years after the start of his first restaurant, Picholine, which is said to have introduced the European cheese course into American fine dining. While the cheeses at Picholine are presented on a traditional cart, in Artisanal Brennan took the presentation a step further and planted an entire cheese shop in the center of the restaurant.

Unfortunately, we made a mistake by choosing the Artisanal blend fondue instead of a cheese plate, even though our server suggested a cheese plate quite a few times. I relearned that I should always listen to the suggestions of the staff during new cheese experiences. I was not impressed by the fondue (I'm a hard critic, having lived in the fondue capital of the world), and though I did have a wonderful chat with the cheesemonger Charles, who also told me I should have let him make me a cheese plate instead of ordering the fondue, I left with a feeling of immense disappointment.

I knew that if I approached the situation differently I could have a fantastic meal, so I paid Artisanal a second visit. This time, I was lucky enough to meet Terrance Brennan himself, since a mutual friend email-introduced us a little while back. Terrance took a few moments out of his busy day to chat and show us the special cheese caves that maintain the perfect temperature for the restaurant's cheeses. I asked Charles the cheesemonger to make us a plate of the cheeses he deemed best, and I requested the same of Matthew the sommelier, who chose three wine pairings for the six cheeses.

The presentation of the wines and cheeses was a truly grand performance. Matthew spoke in depth on the history and flavor of each wine, and Charles shared the stories of each cheese complete with personal anecdotes. I listened in rapture, overwhelmed by the full plates and glasses set in front of me. 

These cheeses and wines contained so much complexity and knowledge! I couldn't believe I had the privilege of eating it.

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artisanalcheese.com

When I finally took my first bite of Chaource I was greeted by the perfect combination of consistency and flavor: it was tart, but smooth, buttery, but bitey. The Truffle TremorBavarian LimburgerTarentaiseRoomano and Valdéon each impressed me with their distinct personalities, while serving as the perfect compliments to each other. 

I left still in awe of the experience we had just had, beginning with a conversation with Terrance Brennan and ending with Charles and Matthew's harmonious cheese and wine pairings. Artisanal Fromagerie, Bistro and Wine Bar was by far the swankiest cheese experience of my life.

Now go out and eat some cheese.

More than Manchego: Cheese in Barcelona


 
In April I took my first trip to Barcelona. It wasn't the warmest time of year to visit the seaside city, but my traveling buddies and I thoroughly enjoyed the sun, art, palm trees and culture. 
In three short days we visited the main tourist attractions such as Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's epic masterpiece of a church, Las Ramblas, a main street leading to the ocean filled with shops and restaurants, and Barrio Gotico, the old city of Barcelona. Wandering the skinny streets of the Barrio Gotico was by far my favorite part of the trip, and I would recommend that anyone spend most of their Barcelona time in this area. In the maze of tiny alleyways you can find the most obscure shops, restaurants, and people, all coexisting successfully despite their shockingly close quarters. While exploring these countless twists and turns, I discovered a myriad of exceptional cheeses from Spain and beyond.

This cheese plate is an example of the random awesome cheese we came across. We snacked on these cheeses and other tapas from a carry-out restaurant while watching a Barcelona vs. Madrid football match at a tiny bar in the old town.
The plate was made of cardboard and the cutlery was plastic and flimsy, but the cheeses were delightful. I wouldn't have expected so much flavor from such an unassuming presentation.


For most people, Spanish cheese is synonymous with Queso Manchego, a semi-firm sheep's milk cheese produced in the La Mancha region. I couldn't wait to try the world famous cheese in its home country, so we ordered this plate during on our first night while feasting on paella and patatas bravas. The flavor was much more robust and complex than the imported Manchego in the USA, which I often find to be too mild for my taste. While still smooth, this Manchego was bold and sheepy. I understand why this cheese is praised globally, because it's a true crowd-pleaser.

Vila Viniteca
My favorite cheese experience of the trip was a recommendation from Dimitri Saad, the extremely knowledgeable Fromager at Casellula Cheese and Wine Café in Manhattan. He told me that on a recent trip to Barcelona he had a very good experience wandering into a small specialty foods shop called Vila Viniteca and asking for a sampling of the best cheeses in the place. I decided to do the same.

The server seemed delighted to make up a special cheese plate for us, and even provided wine pairings for each of the cheeses he presented. These are the cheeses
 we tasted in order from freshest to most aged, with my notes:

Capri Sevilla (Spain)
great cream line, flavor very goaty, not the best ever.


Bauma (Leeida) (Cataluna)
so f***ing good, smoked rind.


Brillat Saverin (France):
melt in your mouth. sooo 
delicious. like liquid.


Payoyo (Cadiz) (Spain) :
softer than expected, very "spanish". payoyo = name of the sheep.


Shoppshire Blue
(England):
SO SPICY. with sherry it is SO GOOD --> perfect blend of sweet and spicy smooth. 
"I couldn't eat the cheese by itself and I couldn't drink the sherry by itself but together they compliment each other... it works." - Lea G. 
All the cheeses were intriguing but I was most excited by the Shoppshire Blue. I made sure this cheese was included on my plate since Dimitri Saad had recommended it by name. Even though it's technically a blue cheese, the color is orange, with greenish streaks of mold running through the creamy body. It hails from the British Isles but is obviously a favorite in Barcelona. As my notes say, the cheese is quite spicy but mellows out when paired with a good sherry. I brought a block of the Shoppshire Blue back home and shared it with my friends, and by pairing it with a random American sherry I was able to achieve the same third flavor that so amazed me at Vila Viniteca.

I left Spain with a great appreciation for Spanish culture, weather, food, and cheese. I hope to return in the very near future to eat and experience even more.


Ahora salga y comer un poco de queso.

WATC goes to Switzerland: Cheese dreams really do come true.

Found in my friend's apartment.

I fell in love with both cheese and Switzerland while living in Geneva during my junior year of college. I've been obsessed with the culture, politics, and dairy products of this tiny landlocked country ever since and have constantly longed to return to my once-home. A deep love of cheese is apparent in so much of the Swiss lifestyle (as seen on the toilet seat to the right), so it's no surprise that I fit right in.

I've dreamed hundreds of times of what it would be like to travel back to Switzerland, and I'm overjoyed to tell you that all my dreams came true when I finally did so in April. I caught up with dozens of old friends, traveled to beautiful new towns, and ate cheese every step of the way.

If you haven't been to Switzerland, I strongly suggest you do so in the very near future. Not only does it have great cheese, but it also has snow-covered mountains, the greenest valleys and bluest lakes you'll ever see, incredible food and wine, and some of the kindest people I've ever met.

For your next Swiss excursion, here are some suggestions from World According to Cheese of how to make the most out of your visit (by eating as much cheese as possible, of course).


1. Eat raclette at a traditional Swiss restaurant.

In my "Festival of Pickles" post I wrote about a raclette I had here in New York, but the Reading Raclette made in Vermont could never compare to the authentic Swiss version. On my first night in Geneva I went back to my favorite traditional Swiss restaurant, Chalet Suisse, ordered a "cinq service" raclette dish (meaning five servings) and attempted to make it through all that melted cheese. I could barely finish my third dish, but I was utterly satisfied when I stopped eating. The raclette tasted fatty and sweet, offset by the tart and savory flavor of the cornichons and pearl onions. It was melty cheesy perfection.

This is what a plate of raclette looks like. I cut up my mini pickles and potatoes beforehand so that they served the cheese right on top of it all.



And these are the cornichons and pearl onions that you eat with it.




2. Order a cheese plate, and don't choose the cheeses.


Lucerne is a vacation town that sits right on the edge of the picturesque Lake Lucerne. While visiting a friend from the area, we were lucky enough to experience the extremely elegant Restaurant Schwanen which sits right in the center of Lucerne on the edge of the lake. 

Along with my delicious tea, I ordered what appeared to be a cheese plate (the name was written in Swiss German, which to me is incomprehensible). The menu noted that the cheeses came from affineur Rolf Beeler, a maître fromager whose cheese I'd already encountered back in New York at Cheese on 62nd. I was so delighted to know an affineur featured on a Swiss menu!



When ordering a cheese plate in a foreign land, always ask the server to bring you whatever cheeses they think are best. In fact, the same rule applies to most food ordering.

The cheese plate looked like a giant flower.


So I photographed it from many angles.



3. Eat fondue, ideally while surrounded by snowy mountains.

The town of Saas Fee is so small that cars aren't allowed. It's so high up in the mountains that the air feels thinner and there's a foot of snow on the ground in mid-April. I've never felt more like I was on top of the world in all my life. In this sleepy mountain town, I had an incredible fondue aux tomates and rösti in a deserted luxury hotel, complete with happy cow plates and a happy Lea. 



The feast was set before us.



We were delighted by the looks of the fondue- and the plates.



Lea seemed to enjoy the meal.


4. Visit a variety of cheese shops.

There is nothing cuter than a Swiss cheese shop. My favorite one is located on Plainpalais right next to my old apartment and though it was closed the day I visited, I took a variety of photographs anyway. Then I ventured over to Les Halles des Rives, a marketplace complete with three different fromageries. I tried all three in search of my beloved 24 month gruyere, and I found it at Bruand S.A. Fromagerie were I ordered more than a kilo to ship home. On the way, I encountered Müller & Fils where I purchased some Mont Vully cheese, winner of the Swiss Championships in 2006. This cheese contains white wine and a hint of paprika, which can be found in a variety of Swiss foods from fondue to potato chips (I shipped these home too).

My favorite cheese shop in Geneva.



Traditional cheese-making equipment and cows in the window.



Bruand S.A. Fromagerie.



Müller & Fils.



Presumably Muller's son, posing with some Mont Vully.



5. Eat some double crème de gruyère with piped meringues for dessert.

Looking for the perfect dessert after a delicious Swiss meal? Look no further than this perfect collaboration of beyond-creamy double crème de gruyère and melt-in-your-mouth meringues. The blend of tart, thick cream and sweet, crumbly cookie create a perfect harmony in every bite. Plus, I've never seen a more aesthetically pleasing dessert.


The double crème contains 48% butter fat.



The meringues are a work of art.



The combination is beautiful and delicious.


Now go to Switzerland and eat some cheese.

Swiss Fondue in the USA

 I am SO excited to be heading off on a trip to Switzerland and Spain on Friday. And even more excited to return and tell you all about my cheesy adventures there! But first, a taste of Switzerland here in the USA....


As luck would have it, a Swiss arts organization owns the apartment across the hall from me and runs a program that gives emerging Swiss artists the chance to spend a few months creating in NYC.  The current artist living there is Mischa Camenzind, a brilliant guy who makes amazing pieces that provide a uniquely Swiss perspective of NYC and the world. Check out his artwork below.



The other night, Mischa was kinda enough to have my roommate and me over for a very cheesy meal: Gerber fondue, straight from Switzerland. Of course the Swiss have a prepackaged fondue, and of course it's incredibly delicious. Mischa added a bit of wine and garlic, and the flavor he produced was unlike any you can find in the USA. I hadn't tasted such a scrumptious and utterly Swiss fondue since I was in Geneva, and I can't wait until next week to taste it again!

Two types of fondue: L'Original and Moitié-Moitié (half Gruyere, half Vacherin Fribourgeois)


Lots of Swiss flags and happy cows on the packaging.

Tea lights and burner plates: Mischa's homemade fondue contraption.


Even better than a sterno.


Samara is happy while consuming pounds of melted cheese.


Bread and cheese. What more could we ever need?

No Swiss fondue is complete without a glass of Kirsch at the end- this cherry flavored liqueur helps you digest all that fatty goodness you just ingested.


Now go out and eat some fondue.

A Very Cheesy Birthday

Last Thursday was my 23rd birthday, and naturally I celebrated with cheese. While searching "birthday restaurants" on Yelp, Kashkaval Cheese Market and Wine Bar came up in the results, and I couldn't believe I had never heard of this cheese-centric shop. I was apprehensive to try a new place on such an important day, but the reviews of the restaurant were very positive. The shop calls itself, "One of Hell's Kitchen's hidden treasures," and my experience there lived up to this term. Tucked into the back of a bustling gourmet market is a tiny wine bar filled with a variety of great cheese dishes, wines, and tapas. I had an unforgettable birthday celebration and would suggest the restaurant to anyone for a large dinner party, romantic date, or simply a cheese purchase.


We ordered a large tapas plate and a selection of three cheeses that the waitress suggested. All three were utterly delicious, but the cheese that stood out to me was the Gjetost, a Norwegian cheese that tasted more like caramel fudge than a dairy product. Gjetost is made from the whey in curdled milk, while most cheeses are made from the curd. This difference gives it a dark brown color and a sugary flavor. I couldn't believe how great the cheese tasted, but I also couldn't believe it was cheese. 


food52.com
Igourmet.com gives this description:
It has an unusual, sweet flavor due to the way in which it is processed. The milk is cooked until the sugars in it have caramelized, giving the cheese its distinctive brown color and sweet flavor. The milk is then curded and pressed. The cheese became popular as a skiers' snack and thus the label on the whole cheese is emblazoned with the words "Ski Queen". It is widely popular among Scandinavians, and children in the United States are drawn to its sweet flavor.


baroodyimports.com
We also ordered a pot of Kashkaval fondue, the eastern European yellow sheeps milk cheese that lends its name to the restaurant. After one bite I could see why they chose to name the shop after this particular cheese, as the taste was truly remarkable. Wikipedia says, "The taste of the kashkaval is sometimes compared to that of the United Kingdom's cheddar cheese", but the cheese has a flavor all its own. It was sweet and savory all at once, which happens to be my favorite taste when it comes to cheese.


Thanks to youKashkaval Cheese Market and Wine Bar, I had an incredible birthday dinner filled with Kashkaval fondue, Gjetost "fudge" cheese, and my closest friends. You can see just how happy I was here during my cheesy birthday celebration.



And speaking of incredible experiences... 
The only thing that could have made mine better would be to have beaten twelve world records during the celebration, like cricket player Freddie Flintoff attempted to do in only twelve hours:


(guinnessworldrecords.com)

Fastest time to wrap a person in newspaper, most kisses given in 30 seconds and more:





Most tennis balls caught in 1 minute, fastest 3 point turn and more:




Now go out and celebrate broken records by eating some cheese.

Cheese Addictions and Gum Art

People always say to me, "Wow, you're obsessed with cheese." 


Yes, I am. And studies show that I might have an even stronger attachment to cheese. Not only am I obsessed, but I have an actual physical addiction to the delicious dairy products. People have long discussed how chocolate and other foods have addictive qualities, whether it be psychological or physical. Everyone that gets headaches when they don't have their morning cup of joe knows how addictive caffeine can be, and even use this fact as reasoning for consuming many cups each day.


I'm not surprised at the news of cheese's addictive quality. What comes as a shocker is the ingredient that is responsible for this phenomenon: morphine. MORPHINE?! That's right. Morphine is a natural ingredient in both cow and human milk, serving the purpose of creating a special bond between mother and child, and ensuring that babies get the nutrients they need. I'm serious! Learn more here:

Addicted to Cheese? Here’s Why (care2.com)


mediabistro.com
How does this information impact me? It doesn't, except that now I have a reason for eating so much cheese. When people ask about my obsession, I can shrug and say, "I know, it's bad. Someday I'll kick this addiction."


But I probably won't, and that's ok. On the list of addictive substances, a protein-packed dairy product is probably one of the least damaging. And most delicious.


And speaking of addictions..... Another on the list is chewing gum. In the U.S., people chew an average of 182 stick equivalents per person per year. This doesn't seem terrible. What's awful, though, is the amount of gum that ends up on the sidewalks of our cities. I've seen many train stations that have a chewing gum "carpet" on their platforms, due to years of wads of gum being discarded after they lost their flavor.


Now one artist has come up with a solution for all these disgusting gum marks. He's making them beautiful! Check out these awesome designs that Ben Wilson is creating on some of London's gum-infested sidewalks:





 Now go out and eat some (addictive) cheese.

So many cheeses, so little time!

I feel lucky to be facing a certain problem at the moment: I've had so many cheesy experiences lately, I can't decide which I should write about! They are all so unique and fascinating in their own ways, and every cheesy event teaches me something new about the dairy product I love so much. I'm going to share as many as I can with you now.


Here's a sampling of briny, illogical, and always fun cheese events that I've participated in lately:

Mozzarella Making Class
Cheese with some leftovers from class.
I took an important step in my personal cheese education by participating in a Mozzarella Making class at Murray's Cheese. I was surprised by the simplicity of the process (although I must admit that I didn't take part in the entire process, since we started with pre-made curd). We ran around filling buckets of water at varying temperatures and pouring it into large bowls of curd for a few minutes, and soon everyone in the class was salting and stretching their own personal mozzarella creations. After rolling it into an "uncooked croissant," we pushed the ball through our fingers and placed it in salt water. Voila!


Me eating the mozzarella
I ate the cheese just two hours later with some friends, and I'm proud to say that it was DELICIOUS: fresh and milky, with a brine that accentuated the flavor. It was truly the best mozzarella I've ever eaten, and it wouldn't have existed without me.

Briny: Like a sea animal, mozzarella survives best in a saltwater environment. If you remove it from the brine you'll dry it out, and it will end up lifeless like this poor giant shark that was recently caught by Pakistani fisherman.


Giant Whale Shark Reeled In By Pakistani Fisherman (abc.com)


The Stinky Cheese Festival
I attended the annual Stinky Cheese Festival, hosted by Tour de France, which is a group of French restaurants in New York City. For one week, each restaurant offers a special cheese-filled menu, featuring delicacies such as Welsh Rarebit Tallegio, Poached Pears with Gorgonzola, Raclette Savoyard, and Fourme d'Ambert Ice Cream. It was difficult deciding which of the nine restaurants to visit, but finally I settled on Pigalle, because I had never even heard of it before. Most of the dishes were truly impressive, although I was slightly bothered by the small proportion of cheese to pairings and garnishes. Then again, I'm a cheese-a-holic, and it's always hard to have enough cheese to please me.


We ate...
 Camembert in a hazelnut crust with a fruit compote on the side.

Raclette with a selection of charcuterie, cornichon, and mustard.

A fresh cow's milk cheese dip with chives.

A Fourme D'Ambert ice cream served with a wine-poached pear and maple-walnut brittle. You can see that it was our favorite, because we gobbled it up before I could even take a picture.

Illogical: Some illogical thoughts become genius creations, such as the combination of ice cream and and blue cheese. Others don't work out as well, such as this man's idea to install a stove in his station wagon.


Homemade Baked Brie
Some of the best cheese experiences take place at home when you create your own cheese dish with friends. I whipped up this Baked Brie with Leah on a rainy afternoon last week, following her friend Emily's recipe. The spatula got stuck, a few "flowers" fell off, but the finished product tasted spectacular. It was made all the better by the fact that it wasn't a mass produced item, but instead a unique product crafted by our own hands.

Fun: Creating your own cheese dish at home is both delicious and fun. It could be almost as fun as shooting a marshmallow gun around the white house with the president.




Now go out and eat some cheese.

Why soy cheese isn't cheese, retouching is cheesy, and other lessons from WATC.

Look at all this incredible cheese that I didn't even get to try!
I've been told by a number of cheesemongers and experts that soy cheese ISN'T cheese. Just this weekend, sitting in on a mozzarella making class, I heard the instructor explain that dairy is a NECESSARY ingredient in cheese, and that if it's missing then the food might as well be labeled as something else entirely. Until a few weeks ago I had never tasted soy cheese, and based on these descriptions I had no desire to do so. 


Then a very unfortunate turn of stomach events led me to the sad conclusion that I should try cutting out cheese for a while. It may have been the greatest challenge I've ever attempted (harder than eating maggot cheese) and I must admit that I failed at the challenge after a very short amount of time. I love cheese too much to abandon it, even for a very temporary period.


More cheese! So hard to resist!
While on this No Cheese Diet, I decided to taste the much-scorned soy cheese. I know they can do a lot with soy nowadays and make some pretty scrumptious food replacers, so I tried to keep an open mind as I walked into my local Westside Market and waded through all the beautiful cheeses to find the non-dairy imposters. I had to employ the help of a friendly Westside Market cheesemonger who has been working in cheese for 20 years, and he claimed the soy cheese "wasn't that bad."


Soy cheese. Look how boring it is.
(foodsubs.com)
He had me taste some soy gouda and soy cheddar. They tasted exactly the same to me: like soy. The flavor is similar to a Kraft single, only worse. Any semblance of cheesiness gives way almost instantly to an overwhelming taste of bean, which is not surprising given the main ingredient but still incredibly disappointing. My helpful cheesemonger advised that the cheese melts well, which I don't doubt given its consistency. Melting wouldn't change the flavor though, so I'm not sure how much it could help this food.


As I expected, I completely agree with all the cheesers who claim that soy cheese is not truly cheese. It's an acceptable food, and if I hadn't eaten cheese in years I could see myself enjoying it. However, I do eat cheese daily and savor every morsel I pop in my mouth. So I cannot say that I like soy cheese in the least.


Oh non-descript "Cheddar" Soy Cheese, I hereby crown ye... Cheese (Replacement) of the Week. *Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*


Here's a week filled with a new breed of cheese and stories that are beanyfake and daunting.

New Breed: Although most of these dog breeds have been around for hundreds of years, this year marks the first time that they will be represented in the Westminster Dog Show. Similarly, even though soy has been around for a long time, it has only recently begun to be included as a variety of cheese.
6 new breeds debut at Westminster dog show, but history shows rookies face long odds to win (washingtonpost.com)



Beany: This man was crowned "Captain Beany" when he took a bath in baked beans 25 years ago. Based on his name, I think he might be one of the only people who would prefer soy cheese over its dairy-filled parent. For his next fundraiser he'll be bathing in a large bath of tomato soup, but maybe he could be convinced to bathe in soy cheese in the future.
Captain Beany turns soup-a-hero for day (thisissouthwales.co.uk)


designcollector.net
Fake: Sanna Dullaway's attempt to reinvigorate history with color has sparked quite a controversy. While some people may enjoy the new look of these classic black & white photographs, most think that these famous photographs should never be modified with fake colors. I must agree that these photos should remain true to their hues, much like cheese should stay in its true dairy form.
Sanna Dullaway's Colorized Series Of Historical Photos Creates Controversy (huffingtonpost.com)


Daunting: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stands at the whopping height of 7'2", daunting even to Hillary Clinton. He is the NBA's all-time scoring leader, and was recently appointed global cultural ambassador. Soy cheese might seem like a small challenge compared to all that Kareem has accomplished, but I bet even he would think twice before consuming this food.




Now go out and eat some REAL cheese.


A Special Delivery from Switzerland

As a cheese lover, I am deeply grateful to have friends in foreign places - especially when that place is the cheese capital of the world, and especially when these friends happen to pass through the United States with cheesy care packages.

On New Year's Eve, I jumped at the chance to meet my friend Stéphane from Switzerland, who was on his way to Mexico for a holiday. Of course I was excited to see a friend that I hadn't caught up with in years, but I must admit that I was almost equally thrilled for an entire kilo of my most beloved Swiss Gruyere that he agreed to bring along.


This Gruyere, the original and the best, is produced by the Swiss company "Le Gruyere." They only export cheese up to 12 months in age to the USA. Cheesemongers have told me this is because there isn't a market for the deeply aged Gruyere here in the states, but that's hard for me to believe! The 12 month can be quite delicious, especially when aged by great cheesemongers like Murray's Cheese, but to me it doesn't represent the true Swiss taste. When I lived in Geneva, my favorite Gruyere was the 24 month, which is TWICE as old as the Gruyere in the USA and arguably twice as delicious. 

www.switzerland-cheese.com
Stéphane is quite an authority on cheese himself (not only is he Swiss, but he has worked in the food business his entire life), and he was smart enough to taste the cheeses before purchasing this monster kilo for me. He informed me before his arrival that he had decided to bring the 18 month instead of the 24, because, "Le 18 mois était bien meilleure (petite touche de noisette au goût)." Or in English, the 18 month was much better (small touch of nuttiness in the taste). His experience is a perfect example of why you must always taste before you buy. Each wheel of cheese comes with a unique flavor, and the best 
tasting Gruyere may vary from week to week.

www.fribourgregion.ch
I am now savoring every bite of this incredible Gruyere. It'll take quite a while to get through, but it couldn't last long enough. Out of all the cheeses I adore, I can confidently tell you that the true "Le Gruyere" is my absolute favorite. It's salty and sweet with hints of nut and caramel, and a few delightful amino acid flakes in every bite. To me, this cheese is perfect.

Merci Stéphane, Merci La Suisse... Vive Le Gruyere! 


Donc allez-y et mangez du fromage.









Our Favorite Pungent Imposters on 62nd

When my coworker asked if I had visited Cheese on 62nd, I couldn't believe I had never even heard of the place. Where were the tweets? Where was the website? That's how I get my cheesy info, and this little shop hadn't shown much of a voice in the online cheese community.

But what this store is lacking in internet presence, it makes up for in cheese: they have a HUGE selection of fromages from all over the world (including fresh burrata imported straight from Puglia each week) crammed into a tiny space that is cozy, overwhelming, and incredibly exciting.

Based on a few complaints I read on Yelp, I feared that I might be met with grouchy ladies reluctant to give out samples and chat about cheese. The moment I entered the shop, however, my fears were lifted as I was greeted by the warm smile of the owner. When I asked him to tell me about his cheeses, he immediatly began feeding me tastes of exquisite samplings and providing colorful background for each one. 

The only downside of my visit was that I forgot to pick up the fresh Italian burrata I intended to blog about. The plethora of other cheeses distracted me, and I left with a wide variety of other discoveries in my bag instead.

My favorite cheese discovery was an oozy beauty called "Préferé de Nos Montagnes", hailing from the Jura region of France. Sadly, the cheese is most often celebrated as a stand-in for another: the famed raw-milk Reblochon from France that's banned from American markets.

nellsdish.com




It's been a few years since I had Reblochon, but I can't imagine that it's much better than this gem. The consistency is ridiculously gooey, the flavor is pungent yet smooth, and the overall experience is as near to perfection as a pasteurized, legal cheese could be. It's no wonder the name translates to "Favorite from our Mountains".


Oh Préferé de Nos Montagnes, I hereby crown ye Cheese of the Week.
*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*

Here's to a week filled with stories and cheeses that are 
pungent, barely legal, and imposters in their own right.


Pungent: 
The beauty of this cheese lies in the balance between pungency and smoothness. Unfortunately, I don't think this Jesus-faced sock will maintain such a balance while it hangs in this lady's apartment for years. You can't wash a holy sock.



Barely legal: 
If this cheese were any more alike its Reblochon sister, it would be illegal in the United States. If these underwear-clad shoppers were wearing any less clothing, they too would be breaking the law. Then again, I'm not sure if nudity is illegal in Spain.



Imposter: 
Among a group of Americans, this cheese could probably pass as a true Reblochon without anyone identifying the imposter. This man didn't pass as well among the crowds of North Korean's gathered for Kim Jung Il's funeral. His height raised questions among the international community of whom this gigantic North Korean could be.


Now go out and eat some cheese.

WATC's Cheesy Gift Guide

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Very Cheesy Holiday 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It's the most wonderful time of the year... for cheese! With holiday parties, family gatherings, and gift giving galore, cheese can play a pivotal role in all your festivities.

For the cheesiest gifts out there, check out these gift baskets and collections from each of the cheese shops that have been featured so far on this blog.  With so many to choose from, and a broad price range, you're sure to find something for even the pickiest people on your list.


Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine: Gifts


Saxelby Cheese: Cheese Selections


Murray's Cheese : 2011 Holiday Gift Guide 


Beecher's Cheese: Gift Collections




Cowgirl Creamery: Cheese Collections


Lucy's Whey: Shop | Gifts



If you want to get creative around the holiday's, try inventing your own cheese ball and submit it to the first ever...
And for guaranteed delivery by Christmas, just install your own Santa-Friendly chimney, so that the big guy has no problems bringing you your cheesy gifts:



Now go out and eat some cheese, and enjoy the holidays!

A Festival of Pickles, a Mountain of Photos, and a Surfing Sheep

One of the best aspects of New York City is the random events that take place here, and the freakishly large crowds that these events attract. One such event was the Peck Slip Pickle Festivalheld a few weeks ago (Sun, Nov. 13th) at New Amsterdam Market.
 
At the Pickle Festival, the rows between the stalls were so crowded that I had to shove past hundreds of pickle gobblers just to grab a sample of a simple bread & butter. Who knew that so many people liked pickles? Accompanied by my pickle-obsessed partner, I wove through the crowds and located Saxelby Cheesemongers, who were serving up the perfect compliment to the surrounding pickles: Traditional Swiss Raclette. 


Anne Saxelby (bonappetit.com)
Sophie
I waited for at least 20 minutes in a long line while Anne Saxelby melted each raclette serving on an industrial sized raclette machine. When it was finally my turn, I excitedly introduced myself to Anne and her fellow cheesemonger Sophie. The two lovely ladies somehow remained relaxed and present amidst the crowds, chatting warmly as each customer eagerly awaited their melted raclette. They made a painstakingly slow process truly enjoyable, adding even more quality to their already-exquisite product.


I suggest that you read this article from New York Serious Eats to learn more about Anne Saxelby, and then go meet her and see just why they label her the "local champion of American artisanal cheeses."

Ian and Leah, Fellow Cheesers, enjoying their Raclette
That day, Saxelby's was featuring Reading Raclette, produced by Spring Brook Farm in Reading, VT.
I first tasted raclette in Geneva, at a traditional swiss restaurant with the creative title "Chalet Suisse". There, they made their raclette on a huge cast iron machine that rotated in from of a large fire. They refilled our plates about six times throughout the meal, so that the cheese remained constantly hot and melty. We paired it with pickled onions and cornichons (mini pickles), the reason for Saxelby's stand located at the pickle festival.

Last winter marked Reading Raclette's debut, and cheesemongers from all over quickly gobbled it up. The flavor is the perfect blend of nutty and creamy, with only a small hint of the farm from which it came. It tastes great melted on anything from bread to potatoes to veggies, or simply sliced for a snack. Reading Raclette is yet another example of a cheese inspired by European tradition and infused with American originality.


Oh Reading Raclette, I hereby crown ye Cheese of the Week.
      *Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap

Here's to a huge week filled with stories and cheese that are traditional, water-free, and farmy.



Huge:
Raclette wheels can weigh up to 13 pounds, and in a traditional Swiss restaurant they're heated on a giant rotating cast iron machine. When eaten, it sometimes makes you feel like your stomach has grown so large that it might explode. A cheese this big would make a good treat for an elephant after a hard day's work cleaning up the damages from the recent floods in Thailand.






Traditional: The art of raclette was developed by cow herders who would melt the cheese by the campfire while moving their cows through the alps. Erik Kessels seems to have taken a cue from the Swiss, choosing to represent Flickr images through traditional photographs, not digital files, in his newest art installment. 


Water-Free:
You don't need water while eating raclette, and in fact the Swiss warn that you shouldn't drink it in order to avoid a stomach ache. Contrarily, christmas trees do need water, but don't have enough. The worst Texas drought in decades has led to christmas tree crops with growth-aches that only Charlie Brown would enjoy.


Farmy: It's rare to find a cheese this farmy in the middle of a big city, but it's even more shocking to find an animal this farmy in the middle of the ocean. Hang hoof, dude.


Now go out and eat some cheese.





A Taste of Casu Marzu: The day I ate maggots and liked it.

Freshly opened Casu Marzu (Credit: Giuseppe Viterale) 
My first interaction with Giuseppe Viterale, owner of Ornella Trattoria in Astoria, Queens, was shockingly harsh. From Culture Cheese's tweet of Bradley Hawk's blog, Amuse Bouche, I learned that  the famed Casu Marzu, a cheese filled with live maggots, had arrived in the US and was residing no further than a short train ride from my apartment. I immediately dialed the owner to find out when I could come and experience this cheese.


Whole Casu Marzu (Credit: Giuseppe Viterale)


I received a stern lecture explaining that the cheese was not for sale, that it would never be for sale, and that the only way to get to the cheese was through Giuseppe. "I will give you the cheese if I like you!", he shouted, adding another layer of challenge to the already Fear Factor-esque experience in store for us. 

 The restaurant was cozy, the walls covered in murals depicting Italian geography and scenes. Giuseppe, in contrast to his demeanor on the phone, greeted us with a gracious handshake and a smileWe ordered the specials, a moist lamb dish and an exceptional homemade pasta with pistachio and chestnut sauce. 
Close Up (Credit: Giuseppe Viterale)
We thoroughly enjoyed our meals, although my stomach was 
already jumpy in preparataion for what would come next.

Building up the suspense, Giuseppe visited our table every few minutes to share pieces of the story of Casu Marzu. The cheese has been made by locals on the island of Sardinia for thousands of years. It begins as a traditional cheese, made from sheep's milk in the style of a pecorino. Then, after the cheese is made, it is placed outdoors and a hole is cut in the top to let in the "cheese fly", which lays its eggs inside.


The man himself, serving up Casu Marzu.
 These eggs grow into larvae that begin devouring the cheese, decomposing the fats through digestion and excreting the remains. Giuseppe emphasized this point, that not only were we eating live maggots, but the cheese we were consuming between the bugs was filled with their "poop" (his technical term). 

After waiting for what seemed like hours, Giuseppe emerged from the basement with the Casu Marzu draped in a white cloth. When he unveiled it, I cheered, gasped and peered inside the wheel, but only saw brainy lumps. The smell was strong, but appealing. "This isn't so bad!", I exclaimed, almost disappointed by the seemingly normal cheese. Giuseppe slathered a generous amount of the cheese on a piece of fresh toast. To ease our                                                                         fears, he took a huge bite (and washed it down with a swig of red wine).

My first bite!
I raised my toast, feeling undaunted, only to see that the cheese was actually writhing with squirmy little worms. But I couldn't back down now. I bit. I chewed. I cringed and smiled. It was strong, psychologically challenging, but actually very enjoyable.

Bradley Hawks described Casu Marzu's flavor accurately when he said that it started out as a strong pecorino, hinted of gorgonzola, and finished with a taste of pepper. I will add that it leaves a film in your mouth for hours, preventing you from forgetting the little buggies you're currently digesting. If Casu Marzu didn't contain live maggots, I would eat it regularly. But then again, it's the maggots that give this cheese a unique taste unrivaled by other cheeses. 

My friends have continually asked who the first person could have been to try Casu Marzu, and why they would ever bite into a rotten cheese filled with maggots. I can't answer that question. But for more info, check out this video featuring a history of the cheese and Gordon Ramsey's reaction to a taste:





Now go out and eat some (maggot filled?!) cheese.

A Mold, a Marriage, and John Lennon's Tooth

  Lucy's Whey is by far the smallest cheese shop I've ever visited. It is also one of the most impressive. Nestled in the center of NYC's famous 
Chelsea Market, Lucy's boasts a surprisingly wide selection of cheeses and other specialty goods for such a small space. Ruthie, single-handedly working the counter, was a great source of information on all the cheeses in the shop, as well as general cheesey knowledge. If you're ever in Chelsea                                                             Market or NY's East Hampton (where founder Lucy Kazickas opened her 
                                                    first shop), visit Lucy's for a mini-in-size, but huge-in-taste experience!


After many samplings, Ruthie introduced me to a cheese that she referred to as a "cult classic" among American cheesers. A true example of American ingenuity, Dunbarton Blue is a cheddar-blue hybrid, created by Roelli Cheese in Wisconsin. The Roelli folks created this particular combination by puncturing the cheese a few times during the aging process, then adding a culture to the holes. The result is a cheese that maintains its cheddar identity but offers an after-hint of blue. At first bite, there is simply sharp, delicious cheddar, but after a few seconds an entirely new, subtly blue flavor steps in to perfectly compliment an already delicious taste. You'll be initiated as a member of the Dunbarton Blue Cheese cult after only one morsel.
  
Oh Dunbarton Blue, I hereby crown ye Cheese of the Week. 
*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*

 Here's to a week filled with a small batch of cheese and stories cured on farms and shelves, surprisingly humid and punctured with culture.
                    
Small Batch:
Because it's only produced in small batches, Dunbarton Blue remains in high demand at cheese shops across the country. The same could be said for John Lennon's teeth, since only a small batch of about 30 ever existed. Luckily, there's probably only a small number of people trying to buy these chompers with an auction price of $31,000.


Cured:
This cheese, as well as these people and animals, have all experienced a cure on a farm. Dunbarton Blue spends time on a shelf, departing with a unique flavor and consistency. Humans and animals spend time at the Gentle Barn to overcome emotional and physical challenges, departing with a new set of friends and strong sense of hope.
In the Company of Animals, Healing for Humans (nytimes.com)


Humid:
Conditions must be perfect for both a great cheese and a great wedding. For Dunbarton   Blue, the perfect cave is filled with 90% humidity. For this runner-couple, the perfect marriage location was at the very sweaty 22nd mile of the NYC Marathon.


Punctured:
Dunbarton Blue is punctured with culture for flavor's sake, and this rhino was punctured with a tranquilizer for safety's sake: he was sedated for his helicopter flight away from the threat of poachers. If only he were awake to enjoy the view.


Now go out and eat some cheese.



The Dawning of the Grilled Cheese Era

The beauty of cheese doesn't only come from its individual flavors and textures. The combinations we create, through pairings and mixings and stackings, often result in a fantastic dishes much greater than the sum of their parts.


The most classic example of a winning cheese compilation is the Grilled Cheese- a perfect combination of two of humankind's favorite foods: bread and cheese. Throughout history, in various cultures across the globe, both of these foods are staples in society.


I cannot tell you how to make the perfect grilled cheese, as there exist millions of perfect combinations. But for inspiration, here are some helpful guides:


For a truly mouth-watering read, check out Food & Wine's slideshow of the 25 best grilled cheeses in America. Each sandwich defies the norm with unexpected tastes from a variety of ingredients added to the two classic constants.
 Best Grilled Cheese in the U.S. (foodandwine.com)






Find even more suggestions of places to visit here:
"Grilled" News for Cheese Lovers (iledefrancecheese.com)



And if you don't want to travel for your grilled cheese, just head on over to your local stovetop. For something new that you can make at home, try one of these epic recipes:

40 Amazing Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipes (buzzfeed.com)




Finally, when you have created your masterpiece, you can enter it in the official grilled cheese competition:


Now go out and eat some (grilled) cheese.