Monthly Archives: July 2011

Cheese & It’s Circle of Friends: Yuzu Marmalade

Yuzu marmalade

Yuzu marmalade

As mentioned previously  on “It’s Not You, it’s Brie,” cheese has a wide circle of friends. It’s a social animal. It likes to party. Circulating only amongst its own kind has no appeal to cheese; it knows that it is only as well-rounded and nuanced as those it keeps in its company and that discriminating against non milk-based products would ultimately make life less tasty.

And we all know that dairy likes to be tasty.

In order to show itself best in as many ways as possible, cheese opens its arms wide to everyone. Don’t matter where you’re from, who’s your daddy, what your name is, or if you’re sweet and sugary or pickled and rambunctious. Cheese will take a chance on you.

One of my latest favorite pairings?

Thick cut marmalade from Japan.

Thick cut marmalade from Japan.

Yuzu marmalade and Alpine style cheese. Now, I love the extra feisty, bright, slightly spicy and bitter taste of yuzu, a Japanese citrus that is nearly impossible to find in the U.S. when not in preserved or juiced form, but other marmalades will work too- especially bitter orange. This is good because yuzu marmalade aint super cheap. Great news- a little goes a long way. Or, if you can find yuzu fruit, here’s a recipe for the homemade stuff. Send me a sample.

The type of Alpine style cheeses we’re talking about are mainly large format, cow’s milk, washed rind, firm wheels. The originals are ones like Beaufort, Comté and Gruyere, and a few North American interpretations of them are Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Meadow Creek’s Mountainer, Mountina, and the smaller wheel, Blondie’s best.

Ever notice how some Alpine wheels have an almost tropical flavor to them- a bit of that pineapple bite that makes their finish on the tongue tangy, especially if it’s really aged? Both citrus and sugar love that. Citrus loves it because the Alpine tang highlights its own inner fiesty qualities. Sugar loves it because it gives it an opportunity to use its sweetness to caress something with a seductively sharp edge (and we all now how much sugar loves a good caress).

Next time you have a slice of a prized Alpine in front of you, pair it with a little sweet citrus action. Marmalade, candied peel, whatever. See what you think.

If you haven’t yet used yuzu or citrus with your cheese, what are some other things you like  to pair with your Alpines?

Bohemian Creamery Cheese: Breasts & Bo Peeps

Bohemian Creamery's Bo Peep

Bohemian Creamery's Bo Peep

I first dappled in Bohemian Creamery at Monk’s Kettle beer bar in San Francisco. This was back when I first learned that sipping Belgian beer while writing story pitches provided a different sort of writing jump-start than did cappuccinos. I was pretty much going there every week.

Anyhow, I started to talk to the beertenders and cicerones there and later was invited to sit on on their beer tastings if I agreed to verse them in their cheese styles. Hmm, let me think….  Yes! This was sadly before I realized I have a gluten-intolerence, but we’ll save that story for later (I hold firm in my heart that I will drink beer again. Soon).

Bohemian Creamery was on their menu, which is pretty awesome since it just opened about two years ago and wasn’t on many people’s radar. I was intrigued. I quickly decided to thoroughly research the company by sampling every one of their cheeses I could get my hands on.

Bohemian Creamery is a two-woman organic goat and cow milk dairy (with a little sheep’s milk thrown in) in Sebastopol, Marin County, California. For just being open for two years, they’re rocking the cheese world- showing up on French Laundry’s cheese list, being included in L.A. Times stories, and popping up all over northern California. Now they’re making their way down south. And I’m pretty sure it won’t be too long before they head east (now would be a good time to ask your local cheesemonger if they’ve heard of them, can get them).

What type of cheese do they make? What type of cheese don’t they make?

They make Asiago styles, bloomy-rinded cheeses, hard goat tommes, Époisses styles, cheese with cocoa nibs on top, Romano styles, and I’m sure they’re working on more. They play with cow, sheep, and goat milk. Cool body part points- they also make a creamy goat’s milk cheese shaped like a breast called Bodacious. Owner Lisa doesn’t think it’s always the prettiest one, but what can you do with old cheese shaping molds, she asks.

One of my faves- and one that the ladies at Bohemian Creamery will probably have better luck shipping to you if your cheesemonger doesn’t yet represent them- is Bo Peep. Pictured above. It’s a pressed, firm yet supple cow’s milk cheese, made with uber buttery Jersey cow and sheep’s milk that tastes like fresh milk, topped off with a bit of buttermilk and browned butter. If you like a bit of earth with your cheese, eat the rind- I always do on this one. Drink with a Viognier, a Melon de Bourgogne based wine from the Muscadet region, a rich Pinot Noir, or a nut brown ale.

Tried Bohemian? Where did you find it? What did you think?

On Writing: 5 Things Not to do When Visiting Cheesemakers for Your Book

Uplands farmhouse, Dodgeville Wisconsin

Uplands farmhouse, Dodgeville Wisconsin

Some of you have asked me talk about my experiences writing a book. Of course you still want to hear about what fabulous cheesemakers I’ve visited and see photos of the cheese, and photos of me getting drunk off the cheese, and hear about what they do to the cheese that makes one drunk (is it the B.linens, is it the raw milk, is it Everclear?), but you also want to know about the book in action.

What’s it like to write a [cheese] book? What’s it like to travel to visit cheesemakers for research? How do you get a book deal? How do you write a book proposal? How do you kick start the writing process? Well, since I’m still figuring all what to do, I thought that the best way to get started was to first write about what not to do. Let’s you and I both say a little prayer that I’m a quick learner.

What Not to Do When Visiting Cheesemakers for Your Book.

If you happen to be visiting cheesemakers (or heirloom bean farmers, or butchers or cobblers, or fashionistas) for book research, the following are things I learned to not do. I hope this advice fares us all well.

1. If you have to rent a car to visit people, don’t rent a car from the airport if at all possible. Like buying a burrito for $9 or a yogurt parfait for $6.73 on your way to the plane, it’s going to about 5,000 times more expensive here than what it needs to be. Why? Because they know they have you by the ovaries. I saved nearly $200 renting a car around ten miles away from the airport. True, getting from the airport to the car rental place can be a little tricky, but sometimes it’s worth the effort. Sometimes you can get a relative to drive you.

2. Sometimes it’s not worth the effort. Don’t overbook yourself. You think that you’re doing you and and your book a service by packing in as many cheesemaker visits that time will allow. It can only make your book better because, oh my, think of the things you will learn! Yet it’s important to leave yourself enough time to ask the questions that develop naturally during an appropriately timed visit rather than aim to get through the five you managed to write down in your notebook at stoplights on the way over. If you pack too much in, you’re overextending your time, and the cheesemaker’s time. And they ain’t got much time. And when will you have the time to be there with them again? Plus, if you end up too enthralled during your short visit to leave one place on time, you might be late to your next appointment. Which leads me to number three.

3. Don’t think your maps will always work. Leave enough time to get lost. You will get lost. And freeway exits and streets you need to drive on will be closed so you’ll need to figure out alternative routes if your GPS doesn’t register the closure. Psst…. it won’t register the closure. Also, leave yourself enough time to figure out how to use your GPS you just bought before driving.

4. Don’t leave your camera manuel at home. When taking photos for your blog, you’ll need your camera to work. As statistics show, 9 times out of 10, your camera will malfunction when on a trip. So keep your manuel with you. Your amazing photographer friend MollyD may not be there to answer the phone next time you press the wrong button and mess up your camera for your first two cheese stops. Bless you, Molly.

5. Don’t think you won’t need “Kirstin time,” or “Jennifer time” or “Josh time.” Leave enough time to breath. This brings us back to number 2. Not only should you not overbook yourself because it’s hard to get the info you need during visits when you’re always in a rush, it’s also hard to get what you personally and professionally need from the trip when you barely have time to fill up your tank. Or empty your tank. Stop, stretch out your legs, and leave yourself a day to go on a walk around a city or sit in a coffee shop and write. Remember, there are coffee shops and wine bars everywhere that need your support.

Have any writing advice of your own to add?