Monthly Archives: September 2011

First Southern Artisan Cheese Festival this Friday!

Southern Artisan Cheese Festival letterpress poster

Southern Artisan Cheese Festival letterpress poster

Even with cheese rock and rollers like Blackberry Farm, Looking Glass Creamery, and Sweet Grass Dairy, southern cheese still has to work its butt off to be taken seriously. They’ve proven over and over again that there’s more to southern dairy than just pimento cheese and warm Velveeta cheese dip, but many are still not familiar with the area’s bounty.

I mean, tons in the south know of the region’s dairy magic, and people in cheese nationwide talk about it, but some- perhaps the same folks who think there’s nothing more to California than the ocean, granola, and birkenstocks- need a little convincing.

Introducing the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival.

My good friend Kathleen Cotter of The Bloomy Rind is throwing the region’s first artisan cheese festival this Friday in Nashville Tennessee. Even the poster is awesome.

Cotter runs The Bloomy Rind- an artisan cheese farmers market stand and cheese consulting business in Nashville. She travels from farmers market to market every week to bring the region’s bounty to Tennessee. And then she curates a cheese menu or two for local restaurants. She also travels around the country to learn about cheese. She headed to Consider Bardwell to take the cheesemaker’s course, and toured Vermont with me while I was doing researching for my book. When not learning, traveling, or working her butt off, Cotter found time to put together this festival. Can you spell B-A-D   A-S-S (I’m not sure I can either, but this feels right somehow)?

This is the perfect time for the festival. Some great producers are just making it out to east and west coasts and we’re all abuzz about what’s going in cheese in places like Nashville.

Also, check out a great interview with Cotter on southern cheese with Anne Saxelby on Cutting the Curd. A great precursor to the festival, it drops a little knowledge about who is doing what in Tennessee and beyond.

The festival lineup is fantastic. It spotlights the region’s most active cheesemakers and ticket admission prices includes samples of cheese and more. Psst, look down to check out some southern brews too!

Here’s a quick look at who’s going to be there:

Cheesemakers:
Looking Glass Creamery (Asheville, NC)
Sequatchie Cove Creamery (Sequatchie, TN)
Blackberry Farm (Walland, TN)
Bonnie Blue Farm (Waynesboro, TN)
Caromont Farm (Virginia)
Stone Hollow Farmstead (Alabama)
Locust Grove Farm (Knoxville, TN)
Noble Springs Dairy (Franklin, TN)
Yellow Branch Cheese (Robinsonville, NC)
Sweet Grass Dairy (Thomasville, GA)
Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese (KY)
Round Mountain Creamery (NC)
Atlanta Fresh Creamery/Greek yogurt (GA)
Cheesemakers:
Looking Glass Creamery (Asheville, NC)
Sequatchie Cove Creamery (Sequatchie, TN)
Blackberry Farm (Walland, TN)
Bonnie Blue Farm (Waynesboro, TN)
Caromont Farm (Virginia)
Stone Hollow Farmstead (Alabama)
Locust Grove Farm (Knoxville, TN)
Noble Springs Dairy (Franklin, TN)
Yellow Branch Cheese (Robinsonville, NC)
Sweet Grass Dairy (Thomasville, GA)
Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese (KY)
Round Mountain Creamery (NC)
Atlanta Fresh Creamery/Greek yogurt (GA)
Specialty food producers:
Bathtub Gin Fruit Spreads (Nashville, TN)
Pine Street Market (Atlanta, GA)
Olive and Sinclair Chocolate (Nashville, TN)
Dozen Bakery (Nashville, TN)
Savannah Bee Co (Savannah, GA)
Olli Salumeria (Manakin Sabot, VA)
Porter Road Butcher (Nashville, TN)
Provence Bread and Cafe (Nashville, TN)
Lusty Monk Mustard (NC)
Phickles Pickles (Athens, GA)
Bang Candy Company (Nashville, TN)
Blackberry Farm (Walland, TN)
Emily G’s Jam of Love (Dunwoody, GA)
Perl Catering (Nashville, TN)
Tru Bee Honey (TN)
Twin Forks Farm Artisan Breads (Primm Springs, TN)
Daelia’s Biscuits for Cheese (Cincinnati, OH)
Accidental Baker (NC)
Roast, Inc (Nashville, TN)
Las Paletas (Nashville, TN)
Pecans! (Greensboro, AL)
Southern brews we’ll be serving:
Yazoo Brewing Company (Nashville, TN)
Jackalope Brewery (Nashville, TN)
Terrapin Beer Co (Athens, GA)
Blackstone Brewery (Nashville, TN)
Atlanta Brewing Company (Atlanta, GA)
Starr Hill Brewery (Charlottesville, VA)
Chattanooga Brewing Company (Chattanooga, TN)
French Broad Brewing (Asheville, NC)
Double Door Ale Works (Nashville, TN)
Here is much more info here.

Hope some of you can make it. I’m already wistful about what I’m missing here in Oakland!

Do you have a favorite Southern cheese?

Achadinha’s Capricious- A Photo Tour

Achadinha's Capricious

Achadinha's Capricious- all photos by Molly DeCoudreaux

Let’s start off with some straight talk- goat cheese haters can be found anywhere. Except for the slightly less satisfied look on their face that comes from consuming the shorter amino acid chains that are in goat cheese, they look like you and I. They walk like you and I. They even sound like you and I.

Yet they deny the goat its true dairy glory. Some say no to goat cheese all together. Some say no to certain styles, like fresh chevre, gouda, or very aged versions. But, dear readers, there is hope. All it takes is one goat cheese to open the door.

Pacheco goats. Want your cheese love.

Pacheco goats. Want your cheese love.

There are entire realms to be explored. And just maybe, maybe, if you’re unsure what style of goat cheese you might like, Achadinha’s Capricious is your door.

Today’s post focuses on Capricious made by Achadinha Creamery. It is aged, crumbly, hard, peppery, herbal, and, a little fierce. Imagine a ripped, tattooed Parmesan in a boxing ring. Capricious takes no prisoners, and it makes no apologies. It’s a goat cheese, and it’s damn proud. And you, my cheesy friend (hater or not) should try it. It’s a goat cheese that some chevre-haters love and a cheese that makes goats proud.

Below is a photo tour of a visit to Achadinha. My amazing photographer friend Molly DeCoudreaux took all these photos (she rocks). Achadinha is a family company run by the third generation dairy family, the Pachecos, in Sonoma.

CurdTesting2

Cheesemaker Donna Pachecho showing me how to tell when Capricious curds are ready for draining.

Curdsize3

Capricious-ready.

Gathering the curds in a cheesecloth

Gathering the curds in a cheesecloth

Donna in her awesome homemade apron tying off the curds.

Donna in her awesome homemade apron tying off the curds.

The Pachecos, about to squeeze remaining whey from Capricious.

The Pachecos, William, Daniel, and Donna, squeezing remaining whey from Capricious.

Donny, in the crucial Squishing Step of Capricious.

William, in the crucial Squishing Step of Capricious.

In the cellar, after squished, pressed, and date-stamped.

Capricious the cellar, after squished, pressed, and date-stamped (Daniel's favorite job).

Capricious in cellar, next to humidity controls.

Capricious in cellar, next to humidity controls.

Available in farmer’s markets all over the California Bay Area, via Cowgirl Creamery shipping, and possibly at a cheese store near you. Have you tried Capricious? What did you think?

CapriciousWheel10

Cheese & Wine Pairing Part I: Pink Party!!!

Rosé: A late summer/early fall Pink Party

Rosé: A late summer/early fall Pink Party

For the first of a series I’m doing on wine and cheese pairing here on “It’s Not You, it’s Brie,” we’re going pink.

The hue is partially inspired by a class I just taught on rosé and summer cheeses at the Cheese School of San Francisco and otherwise inspired by a general love of wines the color of salmon, Barbie logos, watermelon, nectarines and strawberry ice cream.

But more importantly…. I’d like to write about pink wines now because rosés are still in the shops and I want you to drink them! The longer we drink rosés past the stereotypical spring-summer rosé season, the longer importers will keep boating them over and the longer domestic winemakers will sell them past August. Make a t-shirt, and let this be your cause.

Rosés are by far some of the easiest wines to pair with cheese, for 3 main reasons.

1. A good rosé has great acidity.

Cheese, packed with rich dairy fat, craves acidity. If you were going to try to take acidity away from cheese, it would have to enter a 12-step program to help it through the process. Why? Because fats like a little brightening. Ever been underwhelmed by a cream sauce? Chances are it was because the cook wasn’t minding the ratio of cream or fat to acid. Cream on its own can be flabby, dull. But add a squeeze of lemon or vinegar and you’ll and another dimension to the richness. The same goes for a dish with rich coconut milk- unless you add an acid like lime juice, the coconut  has the responsibility of carrying the dish all on its sweetness and fat alone. That’s a lot on its creamy shoulders. Acidity = brightness. It helps show off cheese’s best features.

2. They have red fruit, but not too much red fruit.

Even the most seductive berry fruit of red wine can clash with some cheeses- especially their rinds. Take a Bordeaux or Cali Cab, for example, and pair it with a bloomy-rinded cheese like Constant Bliss or Fougerous. As soon as you get a slice of that rind in your mouth and make a lovely paste with it and the Cab, you’re going to be looking for a spit bucket. Like brown, braided belts and black snake-skin shoes, red fruit and bloomy rinds don’t mix. When young, a white rind and a dark red might pass as a pairing, but as the cheese and its rind get older and stronger, the pairing is going to be as unexplainably gauche as Donald and Melanie Trump. Sure a rosé can have red fruit flavors, like strawberry, but normally peach, watermelon, apricot or other pink or stonefruity flavors mellow the redness.

3. Low tannins

Tannins can also conflict with edible cheese rinds. Because rosés are made either by quick press, saignée method, or by adding a touch of red to white, the juice doesn’t have enough contact with the skin or seeds (where the tannins are located) to make a textural impact. Plus, pinks don’t often see a barrel (wood is another way to impart tannins to a wine) and stainless steel fermentation keeps the rosé fresh and lively instead of tannic or oaky.

To get an idea of how to pair rosés to cheeses, I’ve included a few pairings that charmed the students of the aforemetioned class I taught. See what you think. Feel free to make substitutions and improvise away.

Brillat Savarin & Mt Tam with a Lini Sparkling Lambrusco rosé

Andante Tomme Dolce with a light Provencal style pink.

Comté- with the funky, earthy Clos Saron “Tickled Pink” Syrah rosé.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve with Ricard Petiot Gamay/Cab Franc blend (as pictured in post photo)

What are your favorite rosé and cheese pairings?