Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween Cheese: From Moo to Boo

Tomato soup with cheesy ghost toasts- photo by Ann Johansson / Los Angeles Times – click on photo for link to L.A. Times article.

Halloween and cheese may not seem like the most natural combination in the world, but look where chocolate and sea salt were five years ago. Who would have thought that today they would have become as sexy of a pairing as duck fat and potatoes or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? Not me, but oh my, how I am now in love. Halloween and cheese are destined to become such an exalted pairing. I see it in the cards.

By the way, you know what doesn’t go with Halloween? Raisins. Unless they’re chocolate covered. Now that that’s out of my system, from moo to boo.

Here are links to my favorite cheese and halloween ideas, with a few harvest-ey recipes thrown in for good measure.

Spooky Ghost Pizza Recipe and Photo by Claire Gallam

Spooky Ghost Pizza Recipe

Tomato soup and cheesy toast recipe

Pumpkin Face Quesadilla

Photo by Dianne of All Recipes

Photo by Dianne of All Recipes

 Dianne’s Pumpkin Cookie Cups Filled with a Cream Cheese Filling

Monster Fingers and Pimento Cheese Paws

Savory Pumpkin Puffs

Pumpkin Soup with Gruyere

And…. a short list of amazingly orange artisan cheese for your festive plate:

Red Rock by Dunbarton Blue, and Mimolette,

Any cheesy Halloween plans for you readers? I’m going to a bash with a friend as Bonny and Clyde. Yup, I’m a total geek for dressing up in period pieces. My friend didn’t want to wear my Def Leopard shirt and rat her hair, but still wanted do a partner custome, so obviously this was our only option.

Meet the Cheesemaker Guild Fundraiser

 If you’re like me and like to mix your cheese eating and wine and beer drinking with meeting cheesemakers and raising funds for California dairy, have I got the event for you!

There’s still some tickets left for the Cheese School’s “Meet the Cheesemaker Event.” The folks that craft our favorite Cali wheels from Point Reyes, Bellwether, Nicasio and beyond will be serving their amazing creations, wine will be freely poured, and Moonlight Brewing will be supplying the beer. If the cheese and call to fundraising wasn’t enough to touch your artisan heart, the beer should do it- Moonlight makes some of the best and innovative brews in California (read more here).

So if you’re free this Thursday night, 7-9pm, you know where to be. The event is set up to fund California’s Artisan Cheese Guild, an organization that supports our cheeseamakers through education, legal support, and resources.

From the Cheese School’s site:

“Rub elbows with Cowgirl Creamery, Bellwether Farms, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Redwood Hill, Marin French, Cypress Grove, Laura Chenel, Nicasio Valley, Bleating Heart, North Bay Curds and Whey, Beehive, and Epicurean Connection. You’ll dig into fondue made from California artisan cheese and James Beard award winning author Laura Werlin will share two of her favorite mac + cheese from her latest book. Moonlight Brewing will supply the beer. Wine will flow courtesy of Herb Lamb Vineyards, Gary Farrell, and Corkscrew. Join us for food, drinks, and a cheesy-good time. “

The event is $35. The cheese, beers, time you get to spend chatting up California’s best dairy craftsmen, and the support you’re giving to the California Cheese Guild is worth every penny.

 Link to tickets

Red Wine or Bust? 5 Rules for Pairing Cabernet & American Cheese

Cabernet and cheese pairing

I love wine. I work in wine. I drink wine. I sip wine. I smell wine. I look at it. I dream about it. I love reds. I love pinks. I love whites. Those orange-hued ones are awesome too. But my go-to wine for pairing with cheese? White. No matter how delicious red wine is, white wine is almost always easier to pair with cheese.

Less oak (if you stay away from the oak-chip doozy Chardonnays), less tannins, often more acidity, and, less red fruit to offend touchy cheese bacteria.

Of course not everyone agrees with me. SOME PEOPLE NEED A RED WINE FOR THEIR CHEESE. That’s cool, that’s cool. I understand. Sometimes I need a red wine too. And when I do, I do the following. If you are a devoted red wine lover, say, ….. a Cab lover, and you need yourself a good cheese to pair with your heavily fruited, perhaps a little tannic, oaked bottle, this post is for you.

But why American cheese with Cabs? Because October is American Cheese Month! It’s the perfect time to honor this country’s excellent creations with a red party in a bottle.


5 Rules for Cabernet and Cheese Pairing

1. Loose the bloomy rind. Brie, camembert styles or cheeses with thick white wines don’t like Cab. I know, I know, they look good together in pictures, but in general, the bacteria in a bloomy rinded cheese doesn’t like the tannins or red fruit in your Cali Cab, and the two will end up fighting- on your tongue.

2. Think aged cheese. Aged cheeses can handle the big flavors of a Cab. Aim for five months and older. Aged cheeses have enough flavors of their own to fight back if a Cab gets feisty or overly oaky, and some of those flavors (buckle up!) actually match with a Cab’s. Tasting spice, pepper, herbs or meat in your Cab? Could be in your Vella Dry Jack or Mezzo Secco too.

3. Think Cheddar! Okay, this is more a suggestion than a rule, but let’s roll with it. Cheddar is a magic cab-pairer. Pick a cloth-bound, aged one like Fiscalini, Bleu Mont, Jasper Hill’s Cabot, and the cheeses’s sharp, meaty, and sweet flavors will practically start making out with a cab right in front of you. Awkward, sure, but a little sweet too.

4. Sheep’s milk! An aged or lightly aged sheep’s milk cheese like Garden Variety Black-eyed Susan (top photo), Bleating Heart’s Fat Bottom Girl, or Everona’s Piedmont loves a good Cab as much as you do. Their brown-buttery, citrusy, lively, and spicy notes are as snuggly with a cab as a cheddar’s.

5. If you really want a soft cheese, go with a mixed milk ideally, or, with a wrinkly-rinded goat’s milk cheese, without a bloomy rind. Seal Cove Tomme, Vermont Butter and Cheese Bonne Bouche or Crémont- all good with Cabs. And just herbal and citrusy enough to handle the Big Red. Cow’s milk softies sometimes work, but sometimes they’re a little too subtle for a Cab’s good.

What do you like with your Cabs? Have any favorite cheese Cabs you keep going back to?


Also- if you’re in the Bay Area, I have my first book event at the Pasta Shop at 4th Street in Berkeley this Saturday, Oct 20th, and am getting my book-signing hand warmed up as we speak. Or as I write. If you have time, stop by! I’d love to meet you.

Cheese Super Heroes! The Swiss Cheese Book

Swiss Cheese

I used to say (okay, I still say) that the next time I go to CheeseCon -a.k.a an American Cheese Society Conference-, I’d bring a cape, maybe some tights, something bright and spandex-y, and a lasso. That CheeseCon has nothing to do with capes or super heroes in the traditional sense doesn’t really have anything to do with it. Anytime you can attach Con to the end of a gathering of hundreds of people, as is done with ComicCon, you have, in my opinion, ample reason to attach a large piece of fabric to your neck wear green tights. And the lasso? Obvious. Cows. Cattle. By the way, have you seen how much work cheesemakers do in one day? A Super amount. ComicCon ain’t got nothing on us cheese folk. Except… maybe the easy comic association.

Anyhow, I got a package the other day. My roommate is a grad student, so he gets about three to fifty-three packages a week filled with books, but, me? I rarely ever get a package. So I was already excited before I opened it. And then I opened it. And I was even more excited (one might say super excited).

more loveliness found in Swiss Cheese

more loveliness found in Swiss Cheese

The package? Well,”Swiss Cheese: Origins, Traditional Cheese Varieties and New Creations,” by Dominik Flammer and Fabian Scheffold is the newest cheese book in my collection. One of the coolest things about the book, oh, you know, beyond its detailed description of the history and culture of the artisan Swiss cheese industry, and lively profiles of modern and traditional cheesemakers of the Alps and beyond, is its photos.

The cheesemakers in the photos look like super heroes (sans capes). Photographed standing on top of some of the highest mountains in Switzerland, lifting wheels of cheese while balancing on logs teetering over rushing streams, or rolling their wheels up grassy hills, cheesemakers are pictured in their element- holding something they created with love, in the region that matters most to them.

If you’d like to oogle cheeses in distant lands, in landscapes just as pretty as the animals that give their milk to make these wheels, check out this book. In can be found in English here. Available in French and German elsewhere.

Just wanted to share one of favorite cheese finds with you, first shared with me by Mz Tia Keenan of Murray’s Cheese Bar.



Pasta Shop, Berkeley Book Event- Getting that Pen Warmed Up & a Very Important Question


Okay, cheese lovers. You’ve read my descriptions about cheese, heard about its circles of friends, and might have even tried a recipe or two I posted on “It’s Not You, It’s Brie,” but until now, we haven’t actually consumed cheese together. Unless you’ve attended any of my classes, tasted through the ACS fury with me, or visited the wine shop where I work. And if this is the case, well, kudos to us. If I remember correctly, we enjoyed our selections immensely.

But if we haven’t, it’s time

I’m heading across the San Francisco Bay Area, and later to New York, and Chicago to promote my book. And to eat cheese. And to meet you!

My first event- The Pasta Shop in Berkeleyand I’m getting my pen warmed up, because this one is a biggie. It’s American Cheese Month, and the shop is shaping an event around my book. My book! Am I honored, you ask? OH MY GOODNESS, yes. Not only was working for The Pasta Shop my first monger position, but the shop (i.e. Mz Juliana Uruburu) is  calling in the cheese forces and having representives from cheesemakers I featured in my book to come sample their wheels and the kitchen is picking 3 or 4 recipes from my book and serving them in their gourmet deli. I’m honored, and excited and…. very much hoping to see you there! Please feel free to share this link with anyone you know who lives in the Bay Area who you think might enjoy the event.

I am also kinda wondering what to write in the books I will sign. First time.

So this leads me to a very important question. If you wrote a cheese book and had to put that sharpie in your hands to good use, how would you sign a book?

Cheese puns?

“How Goud-a you to buy my book?” 

“Praise Cheesus, and Best of Luck to You!”

Book signing ideas and further cheese puns welcome in the comment section.

Can’t make this event or want to eat cheese with me more than once? Other events here if you’d like to say hi.