Monthly Archives: August 2011

Cobb Hill: Four Corners & East Coast Privileges

Cobb Hill Four Corners

Cobb Hill Four Corners

What are some of the privileges of living on the east coast? Oh, Vermont. Being able to use “summer” as a verb without being looked at like you’re a creep. Cobb Hill’s Four Corners.

We don’t get much Cobb Hill out here in Cali. If we’re lucky, if we’ve been good boys and girls and the distributers we buy from are feeling giving and have CH when the stars are in the proper alignment, we might be able to pick up some Ascutney Mountain, but most sells out in Vermont. Most of what doesn’t sell out in Vermont goes to NYC (another place were they actively use “summering” as a verb). And Four Corners, well, let’s just say that it makes it to the bay area almost as rarely as George Bush Jr.

So you could imagine how happy I was when I got my hands on some Four Corners while touring Vermont in the beginning of August. Even better- I snacked on Four Corners and Ascutney Mountain in the Cobb Hill kitchen. In truth, it was a little difficult to eat the cheese in front of the cheesemaker while trying to appear semi-professional (I had to sit on my hands between bites to avoid from clapping them).

Four Corners, the focus on today’s post, is Cobb Hill’s version of Caerphilly. Caerphilly is a cheese that was created near Somerset, England, for miners. The women wiping up batches in their home kitchens made it so the cheese had a thick rind and firm enough texture that their miner men could pick Caerphilly up by the rind on their lunch breaks without worrying about getting the paste dirty or the slice falling apart. All hail the worker cheese.

Just like Caerphilly, Four Corners has a thick, dusty colored rind that gives when touched. I love the rind. If you press just hard enough on it, it will show a slight finger indentation, announcing your presence. I’m wondering if CSI script writers know about this- there might be room in the show for some awesome cheese finger print episodes.

Cheesemaker Jeannine hanging out with the Ascutney

Cheesemaker Jeannine Kilbride hanging out with the Ascutney

Beneath the rind is a layered cheese. Directly under the thick exterior is a semi-soft, velvety layer the texture of a young provolone that is smooth and buttery. Underneath this is a slightly tangier layer that crumbles easily and, honest to god, tastes exactly how mac n’ cheese should- creamy, buttery, a little earthy, and with just the right amount of tangy acidity so it feels like you could eat way more than you actually should (and of course, you do).

Cobb Hill's "very modern Dutch cheese press, " so says cheesemaker Jeannine.

Cobb Hill's "very modern Dutch cheese press, " so says cheesemaker Jeannine.

Dispersed through this post are photos I snapped when visiting Cobb Hill. Cobb Hill is a group living establishment that, frankly, I want to join. It’s acres and acres of fun. Plow horses, tiny houses for kids to play in, lakes to swim in and ponds to skate on in winter. And of course, they offer their members great deals on cheese. I’m considering asking where their sign up sheet is.

Play house with Buddhist flags for the Cobb Hill kids.

Play house with Buddhist flags for the Cobb Hill kids.

Can you get many Cobb Hill cheeses where you live? Turns out they’re going to start selling their wheels via the web soon, so if you’re wanting like I am, we may be able to fulfill our Cobb Hill needs soon enough. Fingers crossed.

A milker-in-training.

A milker-in-training.

Cobb Hill used plow horses for their fields

Cobb Hill uses plow horses for their fields

When brining....

When brining....

Vermont, Ground Cherries & Cheese Con.

The Erb girls saying hello.

The Erb girls saying hello.

There are prolific writers, like Jeanne of Cheese Underground or Tenaya of Madame Fromage, who write as many great cheese blog posts as Prince produces albums. They write them while working their normal job(s), maybe while raising a child or two, and traveling. They even write two or more posts during the crazy busy American Cheese Society Conference (I’m pretty sure I saw Jeanne write one during ACS while explaining the merits of Canadian poutine to me, slicing cheese with one hand, and shaking the hand of a cheesemaker with the other). I’m a little jealous.

Me, eh, I’m a slow writer. My blog gets a little upset with me when it hears that I’m going to be traveling. It knows that I’ll forget to call it or text it every night to tell it how much I adore it, and the posts will slow down to one a week, or less. We’ve agreed that this is a issue we need to work on in counseling, but in the meantime, “It’s Not You, it’s Brie” readers, I’d like to share a little of my trip that was keeping me from you.

I spent the last weeks of July and the first two weeks of August traveling around Vermont and Montreal. Vermont, to interview cheesemakers for my book, and Montreal, to eat massive amounts of foie gras and cheese, and you know, maybe hit up the ACS conference while I was in town. I had a blast. I met some new people, went on play dates with some old ones, and went to one ACS session where I tasted six different cheeses made by nuns or monks. And then I got tired.

I wanted to share a few photos from some of my favorite places and people I visited in Vermont and Montreal. Much more to come.

Kathleen Cotter of The Bloomy Rind with Twig Farm's girls.

Kathleen Cotter of The Bloomy Rind with Twig Farm's girls.

Kathleen Cotter of The Bloomy Rind and I visited four cheesemakers, one of them was Michael Lee at Twig Farm, in an area of Vermont that Lee called “almost Appalachian.” We followed Lee and the goats around and tried to understand what Lee was saying while he was moving a mile a minute and we kept tripping over tree roots.

Cheesemaker Michael Lee of Twig Farm

Cheesemaker Michael Lee of Twig Farm

The next day we headed to Doug and Deb Erb’s place, where we were introduced to some of the friendliest, forward Holstein’s I’ve ever met.
The Erb girls saying hello.

The Erb girls saying hello.

An Erb heifer working the scratching brush.

An Erb heifer working the scratching brush.

LakeViewInn
The backyard of the Lake View Inn, where we stayed while visiting Jasper Hill Cellars’s cheesemakers.
Of course, while in Montreal, we had to hit up the markets. Montreal has some of the biggest open air markets outside Europe. And just like in Europe, you’ll also be spoken to in a foreign language (Canadien français!). The stands and the offerings were unbelievable. Turkish candies, French pastries, cheese, organic blueberries, ground cherries, spring rolls, pineapple mint popsicles….

Heather the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and Ari of Zingerman's marketing it up.

Heather the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and Ari of Zingerman's marketing it up.

Ground Cherries, a northeastern stonefruit.

Ground Cherries, a northeastern bush fruit.

Tiny organic blueberries from a lake a hour outside Montreal

Tiny organic blueberries from a lake a hour outside Montreal

Rachel and Amy from Lucy's Whey in New York, a lovely girl from Forever Cheese, and Lance of Scardello's in Dallas.

Rachel and Amy from Lucy's Whey in New York, Jamie from Forever Cheese, and Lance of Scardello's in Dallas.

Lance, with a handmade pineapple-cilantro market popsicle.

Lance, with a handmade pineapple-cilantro market popsicle.

Wild morrels at the market.

Wild morrels and a 25-pound champignon at the market.

Cheese & Wine Classes: School Time!

CheeseClass

Cheese & wine class photo courtesy of Stephanie Stiavetti at Wasabimon.com

Are you ready to sharpen your pencils to a dangerous point, fill your binder with white paper, and put on your new super hero backpack? I already have, but if you’ve been too busy to go back-to-school shopping, don’t worry about it. Places like The Cheese School of San Francisco pimp their own writing supplies. The Wonder Woman backpack is up to you (psst, find two and I’ll give you my mailing address).

Cheese Class Time!

This August and September I’ll be teaching two classes at the Cheese School of San Francisco. Official descriptions are below. If interested in joining, follow this link to reserve a spot with the school. I hope to see you there! Want more cheese action or live out of state? Keep scrolling.

EDUCATIONAL CHEESE OPPS:


Cheese & Rosé Wines, Tuesday, August 30, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Not to be confused with the jug wines of yesteryear, the exquisite beauty of some pink wines can be absolutely enchanting. Instructor and wine maven Kirstin Jackson will explore how Rosé is made and discover the flavors of strawberries, minerals, rose petals and cocoa powder that characterize the very best of this style. Paired with carefully selected cheeses and you have the perfect anchor for summer outdoor entertaining.

Old World Inspiration, New World Innovation, Tuesday, September 13, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Cheesemaking in Europe is inspired by centuries of tradition. Cheesemakers in North America on the other hand are known for their cheese innovations. But can you taste the difference between a new and old world cheese? You be the judge. In this class, we’ll taste a French double-crème against a similar cheese from the American south; an English cheddar alongside a Vermont one; and several other equally delectable match-ups. Along the way you’ll discover what the most important components of a great cheese really are. Hint: It has to do with the cheesemaker.

Still want more education? These are some other classes I’ve been eyeing:

Mystery of the Caves, Thursday, August 4, 6:30-8:30 pm, Brian Ralph, At Murrays, NYC

See why Conde Nast Traveler named Murray’s Cheese Caves one of the 50 Coolest Places to see in the world. Join us as we share the world of cheese caves with you. Take a tour of the subterranean caves at Murray’s and find out exactly what goes on in there. Learn about basic affinage practices and the elementary science behind what happens to cheeses as they age. Enjoy your newfound knowledge as we lead you through a guided tasting of cave-aged gems so you can see (we mean taste) the benefits of the aging process for yourself.


Amazing Cheeses of Wisconsin and the Beers That Love Them, Monday, August 22, 6:30 – 8:30 pm (also at the Cheese School)

While we take a lot of pride in our California cheeses, Wisconsin has been producing more cheese than any other state in the nation for more than 100 years. Building on those traditions, trailblazing artisan cheesemakers are popping up all across the state. Sara Hill of Wisconsin’s own Milk Marketing Board will guide us through the evolving landscape, from rustic and simple cheese curds–‘squeakers’ in local parlance–to award-winning, artisanal masterpieces. Cheeseheads of all regions are sure to love this tasty tour of America’s dairy heartland…and brewland. Did we mention there would be beer?!

Instructor Sara Hill

Free Story Hour, Tuesday, August 23rd 3:00-5:00 pm, at Forward Foods, Norman, Oklahoma

Let’s start this school year off right! Join Cheesemonger Bailey for an hour of fun with cheese – We’ll read books, color, and even play with our food while the grown-ups shop! A free come-and-go event for ages 3 and up.

Parents/Guardians must remain in the store while children attend Story Hour.

Wine Rep Showdown! – Round 1 Ashley vs Megan, Round 2 Travis vs Shane, Thursday September 8, 7:00pm and Thursday September 15, 7:00pm, Scardello Cheese, Dallas, Texas

Two titans face off in Cheese Stadium! They pick the wine (Sparkling, White, Two Reds!) We pick the cheese! You decide. Whose wine will reign supreme?

Tuesday, August 23rd: FREE STORY HOUR AT FORWARD FOODS (3:00-5:00 PM)
Let’s start this school year off right! Join Cheesemonger Bailey for an hour of fun with cheese – We’ll read books, color, and even play with our food while the grown-ups shop! A free come-and-go event for ages 3 and up.
Parents/Guardians must remain in the store while children attend Story Hour.

Cheese Basics, Tuesday, Sep 27, 2011, At Artisanal, NYC

You may know you love a particular cheese, but do you feel tongue-tied when asked to tell another person what makes it so great? Are you at a loss when talking about a fantastic cheese + wine pairing? The range of vocabulary surrounding cheese is at least as vast as that around wine, but each of us already has the vocabulary to talk about cheese and wine, using colorful and expressive – yet everyday – words.

Ask the Cheesemonger: Perfect Ripeness, Thursday, September 29, 6:30 – 8:30 pm (also at the Cheese School)

Cheesemongers spend a lot of time with cheese. Over the years they learn to recognize what’s almost ripe, what’s fabulous, and what’s seen better days. The perfect window for cheese excellence can be as short as a few days or as long as a few weeks. In this class BiRite cheese buyer Anthea Stolz [the sweetest person in the world] will take us through a vertical tasting of the same cheeses at different stages of ripeness. You may find you prefer some cheeses older, while other younger. By the end you’ll be ready to snob it up with your favorite cheesemonger.

Have some I should add to the list? I’d looooove to get some more up here. Please let me know! Email me at itsnotyouitsbrie@gmail.com