New year; fresh cheese.

Don’t know what happened to December… seemed to have slipped me by.

Mexican Cheese Kathy likes to ask people; “if you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?” It’s a tricky question, and usually causes more discussion than answers. Kathy’s answer for herself is typically; “potatoes.” According to Wikipedia, there’s about 8,000 varieties. Not all of those are edible, but that’s a lot! For me, yeah, the answer is; “cheese.” According to an unofficial observation by the Cheesewench; “I think that saying that there Rinsed Pinto Beans (dry) are over 2000 different cheeses in shops and markets in the world would not be an exaggeration.” Sooooo… if Kathy and I could work together with our “single” foods to eat forever, we’d be doing pretty good.

This brings me, believe it or not, to Mexican food. Kathy asked recently what I’d do if we lived in Mexico. “Be fat,” I responded. Whenever given the chance, I LOVE eating Mexican food. Since there are so many excellent, and inexpensive, Mexican places in the Bay Area, I don’t make Mexican food at home Mashing warm beans too often. I was inspired this past weekend, however, by our friend Jeff (who is an excellent cook). He and Anna came over the other night with all of the ingredients to make home made tamales (with actual lard). They were fantastic, but we didn’t use any cheese in the meal. A day later, to use the remaining lard I prepared fresh, home-made refried beans. To really enjoy refried beans, Mexican-style cheese is needed, so we went to a Refried Beans being Refried local Mexican food grocery store to pick up some to go with it.

I’ve been to Mexican stores with over a dozen South American style cheese selections, and others with only a couple. This time I picked up only two; both fairly common and easy to find (and one wasn’t technically a cheese). 

The first of the two, as I mentioned, isn’t a cheese; “Crema Mexicana” Basically, it’s a sour cream, but researching it further I found this write up from an “expert” named “Darwin” on an answer site called Askville:

Mexican Cream is actually closer to sour cream than it is to heavy cream.

Commercially produced sour cream is made by inoculating pasteurized light cream with bacteria cultures, letting the bacteria grow until the cream is both soured and thick, and then repasteruizing it to stop the process. Mexican Cream is more like Crème fraîche, which is a slightly tangy, slightly nutty, thickened cream lightly fermented by a different bacteria. Before the age of pasteurization crème fraîche made itself as the bacteria present in the cream fermented and thickened it naturally. This is basically how Mexican Cream is made, except the appropriate bacteria have to be added back in now that pasteurization is standard practice.”

The effect,  really is a creamer, less sour type of sour cream; one that if you like milk products as much as I do, might be tempted to simply eat with a spoon.

Queso Fresco The other cheese, manufactured by Don Francisco in California, was a Mexican-style fresh cheese; Queso Fresco. As you might guess, this cheese is a soft cheese, not aged very long, and it actually not unlike Feta, except that it is much milder in taste, and as the name suggests, a very “fresh” taste. Although this cheese doesn’t stand out terribly with its flavor distinction, it is an excellent compliment to dishes such as the beans I made. If you’ve ever had, and enjoyed due to the consistency, cheese curds, then Queso Fresco might be yet another way for you to expand your horizons.

Refried Beans with Mexican Cheese I may have mentioned in the past that the market for cheese in Hispanic demographics in California (and possibly other parts of the States as well), is a difficult one to break into. Traditionally, culturally, many people with South American roots are more accustomed to buying locally made cheeses, thus larger productions (such as the Don Francisco company) are not always favored when/if/as a local creamery and/or farmer may be making the cheeses that are used in South American cuisine. Despite this fact, I find, too often, that pre-shredded, mass-produced jack cheeses are commonplace substitutes at some Mexican restaurants.

If anyone has a suggestion of a BOOK about South American cheese, I’m always ready to explore them some more, so please let me know!

Happy New Year; may the new year bring plenty of cheese into your life.
Here’s an unrelated pictures of the Steam Train in Oakland’s Tilden Park:

Bryce and Kathy at Tilden Park's Steam Train

Raclette in Bad Nauheim, Germany

Meeting place for a healthy life I’ve been very fortunate to be able to have friends in my life with which time and distance are never a factor. One such friend that I have is thanks to an exchange program that my high school German teacher had facilitated. Jochen, his wife Nicole and their daughter Chiara live in Bad Nauheim, Germany; a home away from home that both Kathy and I are fortunate to visit on occasion. I’ve known Jochen and his entire family for Chiara, her mom Nicole, and her young cousin Daria (gulp) just over 20 years now.

Recently I haven’t been blogging, primarily ‘cause life’s been getting in the way, but here it is, six o’clock am, on a Sunday morning and both Kathy and I are wide awake, still adjusting to the time change. Our trip will be regretfully short, but we’ll be spending it all with excellent friends such as Jochen and Nicole.

“Um, Bryce, Cheese?!”

Sorry, “Inner-Cheese Voice,” was just setting up some context for the fantastic meal we had last night. Nicole hails from Switzerland, not far outside of Zurich and she had just been back to visit her parents before our arrival here. Knowing of my cheese obsession, she picked up everything necessary for us to have Raclette, which is yet another dish perfected by the Swiss involving melted cheese.

 A Table fit for Royalty! A perfect winter's meal Raclette on the Table

Raclette Mmm, Raclette is the name of a type of cow’s milk cheese, but the word also means to scrape in French. The traditional  method of serving this dish is to take a half or quarter wheel of Raclette cheese, set the cut side facing a home’s hearth or kitchen fire, and the host of the home would than scrape the melted portion of the cheese onto each person’s plate as it melted. It is typically a dish served in the wintertime when fresh fruits and Sascha and daughter Livia vegetables were not traditionally easy to come by due to the season. Thus small potatoes, cured meats, and pickled items are served along with the Raclette. When serving this dish to friends (we often enjoy it in California at our home too), Kathy likes to describe it as the original potato bar. Instead of the tradition hearth fire as a heating element, there are a variety of electric devices which are used nowadays. Each person has their own little non-stick pan, about the size on half a dollar bill, in which you place a piece of the Raclette cheese, and then place it under an electric heating coil. Once the cheese has melted to the desired amount, you then scrape it out of your little pan and onto your potatoes. Since each person has their own, you can pace your cheese consumption to your own taste. When heating the cheese, you can also place other desired items in there with it, such as some of the salami, prosciutto, pickled items, etc. All of this is then scraped onto your plate, overtop of your potatoes to enjoy. 

 Kathy” width= Christina Nicole

After arriving in Germany yesterday, Kathy and I have been overjoyed to finally meet Jochen’s nieces; the twins Daria and Livia. They are the daughters of Sascha and Jochen’s sister, Christina. Also we’ve been engrossed by the company of Jochen and Nicole’s daughter Chiara, who we had met last September when she was only about six months old. She is now two years old, talking, and undeniably cute. Once all the kids were in bed, we ate late into the night sharing wine, cheese stories and the Gemutlichheit that being amongst good friends provides.

More about Germany and any/all cheeses we enjoy while here as I have time to write.

…bring that with a side of cheese, please.

There were only a few meals over this past weekend which did not involve cheese [Kathy made some Rainbow Chard With Pancetta last night, Saturday we had some Belgian-style Fries at Frjtz in the Mission District, and even indulged  Saturday night (Sunday morning?) at 12:30am with Chicken & Waffles at Home of Chicken and Waffles over by Oakland's Jack London Square]… so much food, but fear not; there was cheese over the weekend too…

Cheese Plus First off was the incredibly popular 5th Annual Fall Harvest Artisan Food Festival at Cheese Plus in San Francisco. All of the helpful employees, and the owner Ray,  were a good-natured blur as crowds of interested customers and on-lookers were trying samples of incredible cheeses and products. Yes, the California Artisan Cheese Guild (CACG) was aptly represented too, and since Kathy and I arrived a bit late, we missed the chance to once again enjoy samples of Sheena Davis’ Delice de La Vallee. We DID learn from her, however, that 72 hours prior she opened a store! She was as busy Crowds at Cheese Plus' Harvest Festival as everyone, so I didn’t get details, but we promised one another to catch up soon, and yes, I’ll blog about it as soon as Kathy and I make it out her way.

Naturally we couldn’t leave Cheese Plus empty handed, I struggled not to buy too much, or let Kathy know just how much we had spent (although she had agreed with all of the cheesemonger’s selections as well). Which cheeses? That’ll be another blog posting, hopefully soon.

John & Kim On Sunday we enjoyed an excellent brunch thanks to our good friends John and Kim in celebration of Kim’s birthday. We went to a popular French bistro restaurant in Berkeley; La Note. La Note specializes in rustic Provençal meals, and does an excellent job with them. Quality, fresh ingredients, excellent atmosphere, an attentive, friendly wait staff and excellent meals.

3 minute soft-boiled eggs You can’t please everyone all of the time, however, and La Note makes no claim of specializing in cheese. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed the meals that we have had there, I have, but it does mean that it is not the type of place I will go specifically for any kind of cheese dishes, for an emphasis on cheese, or cheese plates. The meal I ordered of soft-boiled eggs was prepared perfectly. Since the dish did not have cheese, French Toast at La Note I ordered some on the side. The waitress was very helpful and accommodating; sides of cheese are not on the menu, but she had it prepared for me upon my request. When I enquired what type of Brie I was served, she did her best to find out, but ultimately did not have an answer (it was suggested that I e-mail the owner to ask, which I have, but too recently to have heard back yet). The Brie was served at refrigerator temperature, and it wasn’t until the end of our leisurely brunch that it had warmed to a more appropriate room temperature (which is reccommended for a Brie’s delicate flavors to be enjoyed).

The point? The point, I believe, is that it doesn’t take much to bump things up an extra level, and this is Side of Brie with Breakfast fairly easy when it comes to cheese. Whether as an individual or a restaurant, if you care enough, you can find some cheese, in your price range, which can/will make the grade and allow you and/or your guests to experience tastes which remind you how sweet it is to live life. Go and try a cheese new to you today!  If  you want to share what you’ve been enjoying, write in the comment section.

When to be Fraîche…

Two quick things (and a recipe):

1) Bellwether Farms has a recipe contest for Crème Fraîche.
2) This Saturday Cheese Plus is having its 5th Annual Fall Harvest Artisan Food Festival.

 Mousse au Chocolat Amer Sure, you might be asking yourself; what is Crème Fraîche? It is not, technically, a cheese. Before someone who does believe it is a cheese yells at me, I’d like to point out that I am determining this after reading several of my cheese books, and offer two main reasons that I am in the; ”not a cheese cheese,” camp; 1) there is no separation of curds and whey, and 2) it is closely related to sour cream, and I just can’t bring myself to call sour cream a cheese either. What it is, however, is nothing short of wonderful, and Bellwether has some of the best that I have tried in California. Crafted artisan dairy foods in which the quality of the milk is considered with the utmost concern is going to produce some of the best possible cheese (or Créme Fraîche in this case). PLUS just as Bellwether’s website informs us about Various Products of Bellwether Farms Créme Fraîche, it;  ”never curdles while cooking.” In Europe it is difficult to locate the sour cream we are familiar with in the U.S. What is more easily found, however are products such as Quark and Crème Fraîche [and in Germany; Schmand, which is closest to American sour cream). To describe the subtleties between all of these various milk products (and heck; throw in cream cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk into the mix; why not?) would be a somewhat boring description of differences between preparation methods, consistencies and gradients of sweet, to sour, to tart tastes. Tell you what; go get some for yourself and I think you’ll find that Crème Fraîche is something that you could/would eat with a spoon given the chance, but it works best off-set with the taste of something else such as fresh fruit and/or chocolate. Below is a recipe that Kathy makes for us on occasion from a French cookbook we have. Créme Fraîche is used as a topping on it. If you, however, are excellent at coming up with recipes, then you should enter Bellwether Farms recipie contest for Crème Fraîche. You have until December 1st, 2009, and you may win $100 towards Bellwether products. Here’s the details at their website (until 12/1/09).

NUMBER 2: Don’t know about you, but I am on the e-mail list for Cheese Plus in San Francisco. This Saturday (Oct. 21st, 2009) is their 5th Annual Fall Harvest Artisan Food Festival. What does this have to do with cheese? PLENTY! Can’t believe it has been a year, but here’s the Canyon of Cheese post about last year’s. Can’t recommend this event more heatedly: chance to try some excellent cheese, gourmet products, hear some live music, and heck; bring your knives and have them sharpened while you look around.

OK; the recipe (with no baking!):

Bitter Chocolate Mousse (Mousse au Chocolat Amer)

Use the darkest chocolate you can find for the best and most intense chocolate flavor.

Serves 8

8  Mousse au Chocolat Amer ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp orange liqueur or brandy
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 eggs, separated
6 tbsp heavy cream
¼ tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp superfine sugar
Crème fraîche or sour cream and chocolate curls, to decorate

1. Place the chocolate and water in a heavy saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the liqueur and butter.

2. With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks for 2-3 minutes until thick and creamy, then slowly beat into the melted chocolate until well blended. Set aside.

3. Whip the cream until soft peaks form and stir a spoonful into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining cream.

4. In a clean grease free bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites slowly until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed and continue beating until they form soft peaks. Gradually sprinkle over the sugar and continue beating until the whites and stiff and glossy.

5. Using a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, stir a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites, cutting down to the bottom, along the sides and up to the top in a semicircular motion until they are just combined. (Don’t worry about a few white streaks.) Gently spoon into an 8 cup dish or into eight individual dishes. Chill for at least 2 hours until set and chilled.

6. Spoon a little crème fraîche or sour cream over the mousse and decorate with chocolate curls.

How to get a free plate of spaghetti.

Below is perhaps my favorite sign from the state of Oregon:

Wash your hands...
Sure, sure, perhaps I’ve altered it slightly by adding the caption, but wow, what a result you can have from just washing your hands well!

Uh, Bryce; cheese?

Right you are, “Inner-Cheese Voice”, what is missing from the spaghetti is some Parmesan. Now don’t think for a moment that I would use something like the pictured Kraft Grated Parmesan, since despite Kraft’s claim that the product is; Kraft Grated Parmesean “KRAFT 100% GRATED PARMESAN Cheese”, it is not actual Parmesan. Is it grated? 100% grated? Why yes, it certain is, but that does not mean it is Parmesan. Confused? Well, first of all, it’s about the name its self. Parmesan (and/or Parmigiano Reggiano) is a name of specific cheese(s) which are made in the northern area of Italy (in/near the towns of  Parma and Reggio Emilia). In Europe, the name is legally protected, but since those specific laws don’t make it to our shores, Kraft calls their product by  the name Parmesan (in Europe they call it; Pamesello Italiano; their own trademarked invented name for the product).

Secondly, let’s talk about the ingredients. Here’s the ingredients of Kraft’s product: “Parmesan Cheese (Pasteurized Part-Skim Milk, Salt, Less than 2% of Enzymes, Cheese Culture, Cellulose Powder to Prevent Caking, Potassium Sorbate to Protect Flavor).” Do you notice any ingredients which aren’t typically added/specifically part of Parmesan? If your answer was Cellulose Powder and Potassium Sorbate; you’re correct. Now I’m not going to spend time here vilifying Kraft, I have definitive opinions on the matter, but instead will suggest that if you do happen to have any of Kraft’s product (or similar American-made grated Parmesan), go buy yourself a small piece of actual Parmesan, from Italy, at a cheese counter (there’s a large variety, and at different amounts of aging; buy one which fits your budget and is recomended by the cheesemonger), bring it home, grate it fresh (grate it fine, similar to the Kraft stuff if you happen to have a grater that can do this), and try a fourth-teaspoon of each. If you are a cheese-novice, this is/can/should be an eye-opening, taste-bud awakening experience which may change your life (or at least make you more aware of what Kraft loosely based their product on).  …then (or preferably before) if you wash your hands really well, and just in the right way, you may just get your very own magical plate of spaghetti to put the cheese on!

Oh; p.s. also try shaving thin curls of your Italian Parmesan with a cheese planer if you have one; this is another great way to serve actual Parmesan and have it retain a certain taste and feel that grating does not always allow for.

Friday, after (cheese) school…

Sara Vivenzio and Gordon Edgar The Meet the Cheesemakers event at the Cheese School of San Francisco this past Friday night (Sept. 25th, 2009) was everything you might hope for from either a hosted cocktail party or a cheese tasting event in San Francisco. Interesting, sociable people, quality wines and beers, artisan cheese and many of the cheesemakers who produce the cheese, ready, willing and able to People Enjoying Cheese answer any and all questions.

If you were unable to attend, regrets, but I’ll try to outline a little of  something of the atmosphere so that you can feel as if you were there, as well as link the dairies, creameries and other artisan products which provided the samples which were available in abundance to enjoy. I’ll also include a LOT of pictures this time around… The first picture, somewhat blurry, of Sara Vivenzio (founder Lenny Rice and Kathy and director of the Cheese School) and Gordon Edgar (professional cheesemonger extraordinaire) captures, I feel, some of the fun and camaraderie that Guild members share. You’ll also notice a few pictures with Lenny Rice (co-author of the book “Fondue” which is one of Kathy’s and my favorites); she helped organize the event, and to all the others who worked hard to make this happen, I hope to have at least included a photo…

Humbolt Fog The Cheese School of San Francisco’s facility is an excellent space just downhill from North Beach as you approach the Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf area. Once upon a time (actually twice) I worked in this neighborhood for a dot.com company which became a two-time loser. The neighborhood, on the other hand, particularly the corner where the Cheese School resides, is quite nice; far enough away from both the tourists and North Beach to have its own feel. A steep  flight of stairs (typical for San Francisco two-story buildings) brings visitors to the well appointed classroom and office space which are adorned with beautiful cheese-related photography. For cheese lovers, it is like a nearly hidden gem in SF, one that needs to be experienced. This is the second time I’ve Fra' Mani Handcrafted Salumi had the privilege to attend this event (this time volunteering for the California Artisan Cheese Guild), and just like last time, the attendees were of every walk of life and level of cheese appreciation. “All I know about cheese, is Cheese Whiz,” boasted one gentleman early in the evening (I’m certain his horizon has expanded insurmountably), whereas others have been taking classes on cheesemaking from the Cheese School. One such couple that I met, both blog about their Justin and Stephanie lives, food and, when it intersects; cheese as well. I encourage you to take a look at both Justin and Stephanie’s blogs by clicking on their names (I have pointed Stephanie’s link directly to her/their most recent cheese making experience). Also in the realm of cheese and blogging, and in attendance, was Colleen Levine of Cheese + Champagne, which I was unaware of until only about a week ago (I obviously haven’t been googling cheese enough as of late). She and her friend have been; “tasting our Colleen of Cheese and Champagne way through the Wine Spectator ‘100 Great Cheeses’ list…” all the while, doing an amazing job blogging about it. Colleen rushed off a plane to make it to the last third of the Meet the Cheesemakers event (she had flown into town for a blogging conference).

What about the cheese, Bryce?!?

Sorry, “Inner-Cheese Voice”; this time I’m going to Marcia Barinaga allow the links of all the places involved speak for themselves (below), with the exception of one cheese Barinaga Ranch Baserri that was new to me, a new-comer to the Guild, Marcia Barinaga of Barinaga Ranch joins alongside quality sheep’s milk cheeses which we’re so fortunate to have in California. Her four to five pound Baserri tomme, was a wonderful taste surprise to me due to the slightly nutty flavor it had… but enough on that particular cheese until I can really sit down with a large piece someday soon. Meanwhile, here is what I hope is a complete list of every place which was represented:

Mariano Gonzalez and Jennifer Bice Barinaga Ranch
Cowgirl Creamery
Cypress Grove Chevre
Laura Chennel Goat Cheese
Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese
Fra’ Mani Handcrafted Salumi
Sara Vivenzio and Chef Gary A. Bottarini Rustic Bakery
Redwood Hill Farm
Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese
Valckenberg – The Riesling Source

Bryce at the Cheese School That last link, Valckenberg, was also an incredible part of the evening; importers of fine German wines, wines that you typically wouldn’t be able to find, but thanks to Valckenberg, were availible at the event.

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but I’m going to also put some photos of people who attended. If you stumble upon yourself here, thanks for attending!
Meet the Cheesemakers 2009 Collage

Is that cheese porn on your coffee table?

Comté Galette up close Culture magazine, the cheese quarterly, is well, almost pornographic. At least to those of us who love cheese. They, the wonderful editors and publishers, know it too; they include a cheese centerfold in each issue. Since I have been blogging, I take a lot more photos then I used to, and try to always remember to bring our camera around with me, ‘cause you never know when you might run into some cheese… Now if you flip through our snapshots on our computer, the number of shots which are cheese is starting to approach that of people…

You were saying something relevant about cheese, Bryce?!?

Yes, sorry “Inner-Cheese Voice”! I was. Culture magazine; like an indulgent guilty secret… a thick quarterly meant to be looked at again and again, and unlike Playboy Magazine in the 1970’s  (“I read it for the articles!”), you can leave Culture out on your coffee table without the risk of reproach. This is the first time I have tried one of the magazine’s recipes, and I tried it in part because I had, on-hand, the two primary ingredients; potatoes and Comté. Comté is a French cheese which has a huge production, but don’t get the wrong idea; it is highly regulated by the AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée). Without going into a history of the AOC (my inner-cheese voice is already tapping its toe with impatience), let’s cut to Comté and potatoes the quick and say that it guarantees that it has been made in a specific region of France (mountainous region of the Jura in this case), and that it meets and/or exceeds specific high quality conditions to earn it the AOC label of quality assurance. Can you imagine what it would be like if American cheese manufactures were required to attest to where their milk is from along with where their cheese is actually made? This immediately brings to mind the huge “mozzarella” cheese manufacturer in Roswell, New Mexico that I had wanted to visit. But to Comté its self; it is not unlike Gruyère, but tends to be less nuttier, and slightly more sweet in taste. Fact is, when the AOC grades the quality of this cheese, if it doesn’t meet certain specifications, then it is sold as a Gruyère. Made from raw cow’s milk, it is aged at least 90 days, and is formed into 100 pound wheels. It takes 140 gallons to make one wheel of Comté (that’s about what 30 cows can produce in a day!).

Our good friends Anna and Jeff came over for a combined effort dinner and board games, and since we were going to be playing Clue, they brought Mystery Meatloaf! “Mystery Meatloaf” (the photo should reveal the concealed mystery). They grabbed it off the web from the Food Network, and it was pretty tasty. Kathy made a side dish of spinach with garlic, accompanied by freshly grated Italian Parmesan that we had in the fridge. I had been wanting to do some baking, so I made a two-layer chocolate cake that involved stout beer and coffee (was in the latest Bon Appétit), and the simple, and delicious, Potato and Comté Galette. Thanks to the kind folks at Culture magazine, I’ve been given permission to reprint the recipe here on Canyon of Cheese (below), but if you’re ready for a lot of in-depth cheese articles, information and recipes, I can’t recommend the magazine more highly.
Jeff & Anna Collage
Jeff and Anna are seen above turning Japanese and playing the 1990’s board game, NOTEability.

 
POTATO AND COMTE GALETTE

Reprinted with permission from Culture magazine. Directly copied out of Autumn 09, Volume 1 Issue 4 page 81

To preserve the natural starch in the potatoes, do not soak them in water. To prevent darkening, use the potatoes immediately after they’ve been peeled and shredded. The coarse shredding blade attachment of a food processor will make fast work of preparing the potatoes.

Makes 6 to 8 Servings

Shredded Comté 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups coarsely shredded Comté.

Heat the oven to 450°F. Set a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over low heat and melt the butter. Transfer half of the melted butter to a small bowl. Brush the remaining butter evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Keep warm over low heat.

Coarsely shred the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Workings quickly, make an even layer in skillet using about one-third of the shredded potatoes. Sprinkle with ½ Galette after baking. teaspoon of the salt, a grinding of black pepper, and a light grating of nutmeg. Top with one-third of the cheese. Layer with another one-third of the potatoes. Drizzle with reserved melted butter and press down on the potatoes with the back of the spatula. Sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, a grinding of black pepper, and a light grating of nutmeg. Top with an even layer of the remaining cheese.

Set the skillet on top of the stove over medium heat. Cook about 10 minutes, until the potatoes sizzle and the edges turn brown.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake 25 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and the potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes. Cut into wedges, and serve hot.

Where to mingle amongst cheese…

Don’t be a guy or gal who is dumber than cheese! So, you live in/near San Francisco and you’ve got a date, or a significant other, or a spouse, or a friend, or even a parent, AND you love cheese…where are you going to take them so that you can share your love of cheese, be able to SAMPLE a lot of amazing artisan cheese, have a great time even try some beer and wine too? A restaurant? Sure, but will you be able to turn to your neighbor and and openly discuss the cheese you just tried with them without them looking at you like you’re crazy? Not likely. Equally, are you going to be able to turn to the person handing you the cheese and ask them in-depth questions about the cheese and learn that they are the cheese maker themselves? Also not very likely!    There are, however, opportunities where you can do exactly this,  and it is time once again.

Meet the Cheesemakers - The Annual California Artisan Cheese Guild event at the Cheese School of San Francisco.

September 25th, 2009 from 6pm until 9pm

 

 2155 Powell St. (at Francisco) in San Francisco, CA

MAKE A RESERVATION, however, ’cause this is a very popular event. As described by The Tablehopper e-newsletter of Sept. 8 (thanks Gordon);

~THE CHEESE SCHOOL OF SAN FRANCISCO~ is hosting a special evening and fundraiser for the California Artisan Cheese Guild called Meet the Cheesemakers on Friday September 25th. The event will be in a cocktail party format, with a selection of cheeses, wines, and accompaniments. Guests willLink to The Cheese School of San Francisco be able to mix and mingle with several of California’s most celebrated cheesemakers (like the makers of Humboldt Fog and Cowgirl Creamery) during an intimate tasting where artisans will share their very best standbys as well as new creations. $35 per person. Advance registration is required. Call for more information or to make reservations at 415-346-7530. The event is from 6pm–9pm. 2155 Powell St. at Francisco.

 Hosted by the CACG and The Cheese School

Although this is an excellent description, I cannot stress how great this cocktail party is due to the incredible atmosphere at the cheese school, the cheesemakers on hand and all the great people there to enjoy the cheese, wine and beer samplings. Yours truly will be volunteering, so say hello if you make it!

Cheese or Font?

Real quick this time; thanks to actor and musician Dana Goldberg (pictured on stage alongside actor Rob Hermann, photo by the male Dana; Dana Constance), I was given this link to a fantastic quiz website which challenges you to see whether you know a name to be the name of a cheese, or a font. Thanks Dana!

Here’s the Link.

Talking about Velveeta…

Mascot of the Cheese Festival in Monroe, New York Well, perhaps I wasn’t talking about Velveeta per se, but I did mention it in this linked article. This has, however, brought up a desire;  to be in the Village of Monroe, New York on September 12th, 2009 (tomorrow).
That is the date this year when Monroe celebrates their village’s heritage of cheese; the birthplace of Velveeta. Before you go screaming about how Velveeta is not a cheese, or ask yourself; “why is Bryce mentioning Velveeta at all?!?” I’d like to defend… no, not Velveeta, but the subject. There are two very distinct things about Monroe, and both were brought to my attention by my sister-in-law, Janet (Kathy’s sister). She had been hoping to find a place to live not too far from New York City when she visited Monroe for the first time. Monroe is a quaint village (as they prefer to be called) in the Hudson Valley area of New York State. However, it didn’t always bear the name Monroe. The village’s original name? Town of Cheesecocks. Nope, I’m not kidding. So far I have only been able to find information about this on Wikipedia (and I haven’t had the chance to go to my local library), but for Wikipedia’s account, here is the link. It is under the History section.

Much more thorough and interesting, is the history of cheeses, and cheesemaking in Monroe, which led up to Velveeta. It is very nicely documented on the Monroe Cheese Festival’s Website, written by James A. Nelson, and can be read at this link. I encourage you to read it, as it illustrates the many twists and turns that can occur for cheese makers over decades of ownership changes… What, I wonder, might have Emil Frey’s Liederkranz tasted like? As to commenting about Velveeta its self. Sorry to disappoint; I’m not going to broach that one today. If YOU have comments that you have to make, use the comment section in the lower right of this posting.

Oh; a quick disclaimer: Although I have written to the Monroe Cheese Festival website to secure permission to use the graphic of their mascot, I haven’t actually heard back yet, so I’d like be sure to credit them, and their website, as being the rightful owners of the graphic, and say that I hope by linking to them that more people learn of their Cheese Festival.