Archive for March, 2009
Fish wrap for cheese. A 10-cheese challenge for you.

Article from the SF Chronicle Newspapers have been having a hard time lately as you may have heard. Although I LOVE the tactile experience of reading printed papers, I’ll admit that Kathy and I stopped subscribing to the San Francisco Chronicle about the time they stopped carrying the comic strip Zippy the Pinhead.  …In printed form, that is. we still go to regularly to read the Chronicle’s articles. I’m a huge newspaper fan, however, and know a lot about the history of newspaper’s heydays. I’m perhaps the only person in my age group who knows who F.P.A. and Heywood Broun were… but I’m also afraid that one day people will forget who Herb Caen was (purveyor of three-dot journalism for the Bay Area)…

Um, Bryce; Cheese?

Franklin Peluso of Franklin Peluso's Teleme Sorry, “Inner-Cheese Voice”, was just rambling as usual. What I wanted to lead up to, however, is that another reason to actually buy the Chronicle is to read “The Cheese Course” articles of Janet Fletcher. You may have noticed in the past that I often link Fletcher’s articles about certain cheeses when I am either too lazy, or (more likely) too uninformed about them to write something as comprensive as Fletcher already has. As an author of several food books, and over 740 articles on cheese and food for the SF Chronicle [dating back as early as 1995 (if my sources are correct)], Janet Fletcher has been one of the best voices of cheese in California for years.
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My hope is that San Francisco retains its printed newspaper, so that we can all actually hold the paper while reading Fletcher’s “Cheese Course” articles. In case you missed her most recent article (Sunday, March 29th, 2009), “10 iconic California cheeses“, well, I’m linking it here. Now for the challenge! How many of these cheeses have you had the pleasure to try? I was proud to realize that I have had them all (many times, in fact), but I am not trying to brag (or be pompous), the reason to try all of these cheeses (and hundreds upon hundreds of more wold-wide), is for the sheer joy of it. Don’t let this year escape you without having the chance to try cheeses which are new or different for Jennifer Bice of Redwood Hill Farms and Soyoung Scanlan of Adante you. Whether it is one a day, a week, or one a month, this list of ten is an approachable place to start your own continuing journey of cheese. Read Fletcher’s article, and below I’ll also provide a few links to the cheeses and producers on this short list of ten cheeses. Whether you want to comment on just one, or all ten, come back here to use the comment section and share your thoughts!

Mariano Gonzalez of Fiscalini

Andante Nocturne

Bellwether Farms Ricotta

Bravo Farms Silver Mountain

Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk

Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog

Fiscalini Bandaged Cheddar

Franklin’s Teleme

Matos St. George

Point Reyes Original Blue

Vella Dry Jack

Heroin in Cheese!

Thanks to fan-of-cheeseSF Ordinary Girl“, who I had the pleasure of meeting months ago at KPIX’s Eye on Blogs meet-and-greet party of local Bay Area (California) bloggers, I’ve been forwarded this great news item about heroin having been smuggled in cheese!



Sharing a cheese dinner with 259 people.

Today, Monday the 23rd, is the last day of this year’s California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, concluding its self with intimate tours of local creameries and farms. Alas, however, I have already left Petaluma, and have now have only the memories, photographs and friendships which have developed thanks to the festival. So that I don’t overwhelm myself, or you, with the retelling, I’ll try to focus on bits and parts. This post is about the:

Artisan Gala Dinner

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

A lucky 260 people shared an impressive, awe-inspiring dinner together featuring cheese (naturally). The menu, cheeses and wine pairings were constructed by a hand-picked team of incredible world-class chefs, all local to the area near or around Petaluma. I’ll retype the menu card (with links) so that you get the full breadth of the meal.

Cheese Course, Christopher Moonsammy

Triple Crème Brie, Marin French Cheese Company

Bandage Wrapped Cheddar, Fiscalini Farms

Original Blue, Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company

San Andreas, Bellwether Farms

Keller Estate, Oro de Plata Chardonnay, 2006

Naturally any meal that begins with cheese is a promising start… The wine parings for every part of the meal were perfect.

First Course, John Ash

Salad with Redwood Hill Farm’s Camelia, Frisee, Upland Cress, Grapefruit, Toasted Almonds and Honey Lemon Vinaigrette, Grissini

Sauvignon Republic, Potter Valley Sauvignon


Second Course, John Silvers

Seared Day Boat Scallops, arancini with porcini mushroom and Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam and wild mushroom Cream.

Vegetarian option: served without scallops

Black Kite Cellars, Kite’s Rest Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2007

First Course Second Course


Third Course, Joseph Humphrey

Roasted bison rib eye, spiced pumpkin seeds and creamed Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog.

Vegetarian Option, Christopher Moonsammy

Ravioli of Bellwether Sheep Ricotta, Asparagus Puree, Hazelnuts with Smoked Salt and Pea Shoot Salad

Brutocao Cellars, Estate Feliz Vineyard Select Syrah, 2005


Dessert Course, Duskie Estes

Laura Chenel’s Chevre Cheesecake, Red Wine Cherries

Bovolini (Amareno cherry and Korbel Natural Champagne)


Breads by Della Fattoria, Petaluma

Panevino No. 6 Grissini

Meyenberg European Style Goat Butter

Round Pond Estate Olive Oil

The Gala dinner was one of the best cheese-based meals I have had in the longest time. Despite my own near-constant cooking with cheese; I’m no chef… Therefore, to enjoy the true artistry of trained, creative, expert chefs, presenting us with their cheese-inspired dishes was a dream-like scenario for me.

The mood at the dinner was joyous. With so much wonderful cheese, how could it not be? The Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma where the entire weekend’s Festival events were held, was a perfect, and inviting, location for the festivities. As witnessed by the photogrphs below (Champagne reception prior to openning of the Grand Ballroom for dinner), everyone was enjoying the warmth and service so graciously provided.

Pre-dinner Champagne Reception  Pre-dinner Champagne Reception  Pre-dinner Champagne Reception

To pair such wonderful tastes together, and compliment it all with the perfect wine, amazes me. Kathy and I, however, are not so used to having as much as we did:

 Bryce enthusiastically welcomes dinner guests. Will there be any wine with dinner? Either Kathy was blurry, or the camera, or Bryce was.

Have YOU ever enjoyed a meal based entirely around cheese? Let me/everyone know about it by using the comment section below on the right. More about the festival to come!

At Festival; quick pictures of cheese…

Just a quick blog post so that you can see some of the incredible cheeses being offered up at California’s Artisan Cheese Festival. The pictures below are from last night’s reception… tonight is the Gala Dinner, there were seminars all day, and tomorrow is your last chance to participate… Tomorrow’s the Artisan Marketplace, and yes, you can get tickets at the event, in Petaluma. 11am until 4pm in Petaluma, California. Address? Check the website: California’s Artisan Cheese Festival.

What vendors will be there? Check my earlier posting. Click on each picture below for a pop-up window of full versions of each. Having a great time; more about the festival after it is over, but don’t miss the marketplace yourself tomorrow (Sunday, March 22nd, 2009)!
Guild Welcome

Humboldt Fog

California Artisan Cheese Guild Cheese

California Artisan Cheese Guild Cheese

California Artisan Cheese Guild Cheese

California Artisan Cheese Guild Cheese

California Artisan Cheese Guild Cheese

California Artisan Cheese Guild Cheese

California Artisan Cheese Guild Cheese

California Artisan Cheese Guild Cheese

California Artisan Cheese Guild Cheese

What, more cheese? [Festival starts Friday!]

STUDIO art Gallery in San Francisco It is a wonderful and busy week ahead. California’s 3rd Annual Artisan Cheese Festival begins THIS Friday (March 20th, 2009) and runs through Monday, March 23rd. If you’ve been reading lately, you know that I’m helping organize it, so yeah, there’s much to do this week. The travel section of the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle published a nice blurb about the festival, and as I’ve been saying, tickets have been going fast (get yours now).

While at the art opening at San Francisco’s STUDIO that I had mentioned on Friday’s post, I was fotunate again to speak at length with Ray Bair of Cheese Plus (the art opening was a great sucess and very Ray Bair of Cheese Plus serving their cheese spreads. busy; Ray had plenty of people to talk to about his store’s cheese spreads). Ray, along with Doralice Handal of The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg, will be running the Cheese Café within Sunday’s Artisan Marketplace at the festival (Sunday, March 22nd, 11am – 4pm, and yes, you can buy tickets day of at the event). Although all the artisan vendors will be giving samples of their wonderful foods, if you are like me, you’ll also want to have a lunch of an incredible cheese plate, selected and prepared by experts. Doralice just sent a list of what will be offered in their area of the huge Marketplace tent on Sunday, as well as the additional cheeses above and beyond all the cheeses already being offered by cheesemakers at the Marketplace [here's a near-complete list of all the cheesemakers and vendors]. I’m going to paste in her list below, and complete some of it with links. The photo’s on today’s post are from Sunday’s Art Opening that we attended, and yes, Kathy and I bought a work of art; we couldn’t resist this one by Lark Pien.

Art Opening of Delicious at STUDIO in San Francisco Art Opening of Delicious at STUDIO in San Francisco” width=

My hope is to get some posts up during the festival, or at least some pictures, but in case I don’t, hang in there with Canyon of Cheese and I’ll have plenty of stories about it after it is over. Better yet; come to any/all of the Festival and say hello!

Offerings at the Cheese Café on Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 at California’s 3rd Annual Artisan Cheese Festival

Cheeses for Plates:

Plate One:

Smokey Oregon Blue from Rogue Creamery
Serena from Three Sisters Farmstead Cheese
Sheep’s Milk Ricotta from Bellwether Farms
Preston Walnuts from Healdsburg
Gibsons Golden Honey from Santa Rosa

Plate Two:

Gravenstein Gold from Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery
St. George from Joe and Mary Matos [Remember? This is the "Secret Cheese"]
Yellow Buck from Marin French Cheese
McQuade’s Chutney of San Francisco
Preston Walnuts from Healdsburg

Cheese Café Cheeses for Sale:

Andante Dairy’s Cheeses in Small Format:
     Picolo, Accapella, Etude aged goat
Barely Buzzed from Beehive Cheese Co.
Beecher ’s Reserve from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Capricorns from Tumalo Farms
Carmody Reserve from Bellwether Farms
Dry Monterey Jack from Vella Cheese Company
Fiscalini Cheddar from Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese Company
*Gravenstein Gold from Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery and/or Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery
Cheeses from Mt. Townsend Creamery
Smokey Oregon Blue from Rogue Creamery
Pepato from Bellwether Farms
Cheeses from Rivers Edge Chèrve
Serena from Three Sisters Farmstead Cheese
St. George from Joe and Mary Matos
Truffle Tremor from Cypress Grove Chèrve

Hope to see you at the Festival!

Local. Art. Cheese. Gallery Opening Event on Sunday!

Perhaps you’ve noticed, perhaps not, but I enjoy posting about, or at least with, art on Canyon of Cheese. My father, and my grandfather before him, influenced how I regard art; not personal tastes per se, but the idea that when and if you can, it is always worthwhile to support your local artists.

A wonderful gallery in “Polk Gulch” of San Francisco named STUDIO focuses on displaying and selling local Bay Area visual artist’s work, who utilize a variety of practices and mediums. Kathy and I spoke with one of the two founder/owners of the gallery several weeks ago when we were nearby at Cheese Plus’ Winter Artisan Cheese Fair (here’s a posting about that event). At that time the gallery was filled with works by a friend of ours; painter and cartoonist Lark Pien. She’s a friend who was introduced to us by Jink Bentley and Mark Miyake, creators of the print zine punkpunk and founders of Super 7 Store (in San Francisco). I suppose it is dating us to say that we met the two of them back during the boom. ANYWAY, before my “Inner-Cheese Voice” tells me to get back on track, I wanted to say that the work of art my eyes went straight to that day was “Cheese Party” by cartoonist Joey Allison Sayers (seen above; posted with permission).

Now it is YOUR chance to see (and buy too, if you are so inclined) local art about food. Delicious is the name of the current exhibition, and this Sunday is the opening. It features 85 local artists, all displaying works about/related to food. Yes, both Joey Allison Sayers and Lark Pien will have works displayed. The opening is Sunday, March 15th (2009) from 2pm until 6pm.

Art-schmart! What about the cheese?!?

I knew I couldn’t write this post without my “Inner-Cheese Voice” chiming in. Here’s the kicker; there will be cheese provided by Cheese Plus. From STUDIO’s own press on the opening:

“And just to make sure that the reception is as delicious as the art, our friend Ray Bair, proprietor of the fabulous Cheese Plus (2001 Polk at Pacific), will be serving up some of his wonderful housemade cheese spreads. If you don’t know about Cheese Plus, this is your chance!”

I spoke at length with co-founder of Studio, Jennifer Farris; the Polk Gulch area of Polk Street has really become an excellent neighborhood-oriented area. Everyone knows everyone, and with a world-class cheese shop on the corner, well, how can you go wrong? Jing loves Nick’s Crispy Tacos, and we love that there is the nearby Lumiere Movie Theatre. Hope to see you and have cheese with you this Sunday.

STUDIO: 1815 Polk Street (between Washington & Jackson), San Francisco, California

“Delicious” opening and reception: Sunday March 15th, 2009 2pm – 6pm

Lost in the Bermuda Trinangle (of cheese!)

Bermuda Triangle Up Close Of the great many artisan cheeses I have tried in California, I’m always pleasantly surprised that there are so many goat milk cheeses nowadays. Often slightly tangy to the taste, and distinctly different from cow’s milk cheeses, goat cheeses are also often easier to digest for many people. If you are lactose intolerant, or rather, slightly lactose intolerant, you may find that goat milk cheeses are an avenue worth exploring. There are a few scientific studies (and opinions) as to why goat’s milk (and goat’s milk cheeses) are easier to digest, ranging from that the casein curd is both smaller and softer than that of cow’s milk, to the fact that the milk’s fatty acids have shorter chains (than long-chained fatty acids) and your digestive lipases attack the short-chained ester linkages quicker and more easily…

Great Bryce; a science lesson! What about the cheese?!?

Mary Keehn, Owner and Cheesemaker Sorry, “Inner-cheese Voice”, I got carried away, and although I can comprehend the concepts; I am not a scientist. I am a consumer of cheese, however, and today I’ll tell you about another (cheese).

Bermuda Triangle is yet another excellent cheese produced by Cypress Grove Chevre of Arcata, California, owned by cheesemaker Mary Keehn.
Bob McCall, Cypress’ Sales and Marketing Manager, seems to be everywhere that I am lately (see photos below), enthusiastically passing out samples of their wonderful cheeses. It’s a long way from Arcata to the Bay Area, and yet with a population difference of approximately 782,532 between the towns of Arcata and San Francisco [Arcata population: 16,651.  San Francisco: 799,183 (census 2000 & 2007 respectively)], you can imagine why he’s often here promoting their northern cheese. Of Cypress Grove’s many excellent cheeses, the Triangle was one that I had not had. Similar to it’s cousin, Humboldt Fog, it utilizes organic vegetable ash to add a distinct flavor contrast to its creamy interior, and is used in helping develop the double-rind that they form into the beautiful triangular prism shape of this cheese. It is an incredible, rich and creamy cheese, excellent for just plain eating or within recipes.

Bob (and Mary) at Berkeley's Pasta Shop Bob at Cheese Plus Bryce & Bob talk about cheese.

We took this cheese to our friends Kathleen & Max’s place for a game night and although there were seven people there, I must’ve eaten at The Bermuda Triangle claims victims! least a third of it. I brought one of my favorite types of crackers for cheese; 34° Crispbread. These crackers are wafer-thin (but not in the Mr. Creosote sense), and provide an excellent, nearly blank, canvas for any cheese you want to taste. Artisan in their own right, these crispbreads provide structure and a nice ultra-light crunch for anything that you place on them. At the Fancy Food Show back in January almost every artisan cheese booth was utilizing them. Since they are not from California (they’re based out of Portland, OR), we couldn’t offer them a vendor booth at California’s Artisan Cheese Festival Sunday Marketplace (March 22nd, 2009), but I did have them get in to form an alliance with Tami Parr who will be at the Festival representing the Oregon Cheese Guild, so perhaps you can try some of the products of 34° along with cheeses of Oregon on the 22nd…

Aren’t there other Goat Milk cheeses produced in California?

Labels up Close Yes, yes, plenty. A few more goat-oriented cheese makers that will be representing themselves at the Festival will be Redwood Hill Farm (I’ve written about visiting their farm and creamery before; here and here), La Clarine Farm, Laura Chenel’s Chèvre, Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese, and North Valley Farms Chèvre. Being able to attend the Festival is a time and manpower commitment risk for North Valley’s wonderful farmstead (farmstead: the cheese maker also produces the milk from his/her own animals) operation. It’s goat birthing season. No kidding! (yeah; it’s a bad pun).  …I’m sure to have left off another cheesemaker or two from this list concerning March 22nd, and many of the others also produce goat-milk cheeses too. However, California’s Artisan Cheese Festival is THE place that you’ll be able to sample many goat-milk cheeses in ONE place and find favorites to your taste! Have a favorite already? Use the comment section to let me know which one(s).

A List. Where you can love California’s Artisan Cheese…

During high school I loved when we studied epics. “The Epic of Gilgamesh” remains as one of my favorites. Part of studying the form was to learn that literary epics have roughly 7 elements in common which define them as epics. One of the elements is; “Contains Lists.” Although Canyon of Cheese is NOT meant as an epic, I do feel a great urge on occasion to throw in a list. Here is a fantastic one.

Yes, I’ve been working helping coordinate California’s Artisan Cheese Festival. It starts in TWO WEEKS [March 20th - 23rd, 2009]. We had a meeting in Petaluma yesterday, and the tickets are disappearing. I so highly encourage you to attend all or part of the festival… Why? The REAL why? Here’s the list for Sunday March 22nd’s Marketplace. Start clicking on the links. If you don’t start salivating within 3 minutes, than you perhaps don’t deserve to eat… 90%+ of the artisan cheeses are from California, with a few neighbors (Oregon, Washington, and even one from Utah) thrown in for good measure… All the other Artisan foods are local to our great state.

First, the cheese:

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

Beehive Cheese Company

Bellwether Farms

Bubalus Bubalis

Clover Stornetta Farms

Cowgirl Creamery

Cypress Grove Chevre

Epicurean Connection & Rainbow Grocery Cooperative

Estrella Family Creamery

Fagundes Old World Cheese

Fiscalini Farms

Kendall Farms

La Clarine Farm

Laura Chenel’s Chevre

Marin French Cheese Company

Meyenberg Goat Products

Bohemian Creamery

North Valley Farms Chevre

Oregon Cheese Guild

Point Reyes Farmstead

Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery

Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese

Sierra Nevada Cheese Company

Spring Hill Jersey Cheese

Winchester Cheese Company

Now some beer:

Lagunitas Brewing Company

Russian River Brewing Company

Third Street Ale Works

Wandering Aengus Ciderworks

How about some wine?

Black Kite Cellers

Brutocao Cellars

Copeland Creek

Dutton Estates

Handley Cellars

Keller Estate

Kokomo Winery

Lange Twins

Paul Mathew Winery

Robledo Family Winery

Sonoma Valley Portworks

Artisan Foods too…

Apollo Olive Oil

B.R. Cohn Winery [olive oils]

Black Pig Meat Co.

California Vegetable Specialties


CMB Sweets

Della Fattoria

Farm Fresh to You

Fatted Calf/Oxbow Market

Gelateria Cici

Golden Star Tea

Jimtown Store

Laloo’s Goat Milk Ice Cream

Pan e Vino

Petaluma Coffee & Tea

Rustic Bakery

Savvy Wine Food

Things to ponder, read and discuss:

Culture Magazine

Marin Agricultural Land Trust

Petaluma Visitors Center

Sonoma Land Trust

An oppurtunity to buy books, and things for the home and kitchen:

Copperfield Books

i Leoni

And that’s not all…

There will also be a Cheese Café, and chef demonstrations… and there are additional cheeses that aren’t even listed above. Yeah, I’m helping coordinate the Festival, so I’m sure to promote it, but really; where else do you have the opportunity to have this many artisan cheesemakers, artisan foods, craft beers and wines in one place, under one huge tent wanting to share their products with you?

A ticket to the Marketplace includes an attractive tall festival cooler bag, with frozen, reusable, ice blocks in it so that you can bring things home, a wine glass for free tastings, the opportunity to taste cheeses and products from over 57 different vendors, and the chef demonstrations.

I hope to see you at the Festival; any or all of it. Introduce yourself when you’re there. Here’s the link again: California’s Artisan Cheese Festival

Oh, and yeah; there’s a group on facebook (named “Artisan Cheese Festival”) that you can see some people who are attending, and you can befriend me there too if you’d like.

Got something to say… about cheese?

Complete Blogging Panel

This past Tuesday it was an honor to have taken part in the Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference, speaking on a panel about cheese blogging. Surrounded by people I greatly admire, and who all blog about cheese, our panel was very nicely formed by Gordon Edgar who moderated the discussion between Tami Parr, Sarah Marcus and myself with the audience of cheese professionals. Sarah Marcus I’d had the opportunity to meet Sara prior her and her husband’s moving to Oregon where they bought a farm and are making cheese, and have been following their blog for quite awhile. Also, thanks to this event, I finally had the chance to meet another blogger that I follow; Tami Paar. I was amazed and impressed to discover that Tami’s blog started much as mine did; she wasn’t happy with her work, loves cheese, and began blogging about it. True, her story is a bit more detailed than that, but with over five years under her belt, and as an active part of the Oregon Cheese Guild, there’s a level of professional and informative writing on Tami’s blog that I admire greatly. Following Sara’s blog, is equally rewarding to me; and if you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to have your own farm for the purpose of making cheese, this is it! I mentioned to Sara how I was jealous of her Tami Paar grove of hazelnut trees (that’s filberts to some of you), to which she said; “you can have ‘em.” Not literally, of course, but Sarah’s experiences with the trees illustrate how she and her husband are learning all kinds of facets of farming (not directly related to cheesemaking) which are new to them both.  …and not to leave Gordon out, our moderator, you can read his blog about being a professional cheese monger, but he happens to also have a book about it coming out soon (early-bird discounted pre-orders through Amazon can be found here).

It’s funny, the only other person whose cheese blog I follow regularly (and have listed on my Cheese Links and Reference” page, but haven’t met, as of today’s date) is Jeanne Carpenter, who writes about the cheeses of Wisconsin. I’ve learned, though, that she’ll be attending California’s Artisan Cheese Festival , which I’m helping organize, so I’m sure to meet her then [March 20th - 23rd, Petaluma, CA]. Mandy, of the Dairy Princess Diaries, had also attended the conference, but we missed each other by a day. She could only attend on Monday, and I could only attend on Tuesday. Kathy and I have met her and her fiancé John a few times, however, and have Chico & Orland, California as a common interest beyond cheese. Gordon Edgar

The panel its self was, I believe, was both engaging and entertaining. There are those who make cheese, and there are people who write about it. With my IT (Information Technology) background, keeping on top of some of what is going on in the world via the Internet is almost a given. For the busy and dedicated people of Artisan Cheese, however, I hope that the four of us were able to clear up some of the mysteries about blogging. There are a few creameries who have people who blog, but when you have the daily work load of tending to animals, milking, making cheese, marketing and selling your product, it is difficult to find time to add one more daily/weekly or monthly task to your workload.   …as to CheesebloggersBryce Talks about Cheese…blogging themselves, well, I felt a little guilt lifted from my shoulders when I learned the varying frequency that we all post, or desire to post. Me, I’m never at a lack of material, but finding the time to post as often as I’d like is a challenge, and I don’t even make cheese!

Speaking of which, I want to thank Sheana Davis once again for the wonderful conference. I’ve got so much material to write about (from the cheesemakers I met and spoke with, to authors, to the discussions that I attended) that even if I didn’t have the day job I’d find it hard to write about all the subjects which engaged me at the event. Let’s see if I can get a few out in the days to come.

Meanwhile, there are OTHER cheeseblogs out there that YOU, dear reader, know about and that we’d all like to know about. Please use the comment section below to let me, and everyone, know about your favorite cheese blogs, sites, and references. Thanks!