Hot on the heels of culture’s Made in Japan article about the burgeoning Japanese cheesemaking industry, I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mr Ryota Nakao, a Japanese cheesemaker who has been spending two months in Wisconsin.
Mr Nakao, who is employed by Yotsuba Milk Product Company in Hokkaido, is taking part in a training exchange program facilitated by the Babcock Institute of Wisconsin.
A non-profit organization that is part of the University of Wisconsin, the Babcock Institute was established in 1991 specifically to promote collaborative international exchange of information, research and practices within the dairy industry. As well as providing opportunities for Wisconsin cheesemakers to intern overseas, many of Babcock’s outreach programs focus on countries with newly emerging dairy businesses, helping to foster market development.
I have a rough, tough life. Aline Baly, whose family owns and operates Chateau Coutet, a 1er Grand Cru Classé Sauternes vineyards in Barsac, Bordeaux, France, dropped into the shop and opened up full bottles of their 1989, 1997, 2002 and 2003 vintages with the hopes of finding good pairings to accompany them. I was joined by cheese & food writer Janet Fletcher (who lives nearby in downtown Napa), Master Sommelier Peter Granoff, and my partner in cheeses & monger extraordinaire at our Oxbow cheese shop, Ricardo Huijon. Needless to say, it wasn't one of our hardest days on the job...
Since this is my first contribution to this blog please let me introduce myself: I am a Swiss food journalist turned cheese importer & wholesaler. My company, Quality Cheese, was born out of lack. When I moved to Florida fifteen years ago I immediately started to miss all the fabulous cheeses I had loved, been exposed to and eaten daily back home.
During a phone call with my friend, Affineur Rolf Beeler, I mentioned that I would have to start importing his products. Somehow this little joke stuck in my head. A few months later I ordered thirty pounds each of Rolf’s Gruyere, Sbrinz and Emmentaler. I set out for a trip that led me to five cities and chefs like Tom Keller, Daniel Boulud, Gray Kuntz and Charlie Trotter. Upon my return I found the first order on my fax machine. From a certain Mr. Max McCalman for (at the time) Picholine Restaurant.
My sweetie pie is a devotee of podcasts, and pointed me towards this tale from The Moth Radio Hour.
Julie Kraut tells of her time in Africa, an unfortunate traveling companion, and what happened when a piece of cheese came between them.
"You know how some people feel about God? I feel that way about cheese."
You can download it via iTunes (it's free)
It's the second story, starting at 7:00. Salty language alert.
The Culture crew just got back from the Fancy food Show on Wednesday! It's quite the experience the first time around. This year it was held in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. It also happened to be murderously hot outdoors, which made the cavernous interior of the venue a welcome refuge.
Laid out in aisles by country and state, with rough categories within that structure, the show is massive. Overwhelming is a word I heard often in the three days we were there. It took a full ten minutes to get from end to end at a swift clip.
That said, thousands of vendors are there to show off their product, which means mass amounts of free food, drink, and…ummm…CHEEESE!!
Many congratulations to Daphne Zepos and Kiri Fisher for having recently acquired the Cheese School of San Francisco.
Daphne, who has been passionately involved in the cheese scene since the mid-nineties and is also co-owner of Essex Street Cheese, http://essexcheese.com a company that imports carefully matured Comte, Parmigiano Reggiano and Gouda into the United States is beyond delighted. "We plan to expand the number of classes and add more professional programs, but also vary the classes to include more cooking, more beer and more events. I hope it becomes a West Coast Meeting Center for the Cheese Obsessed" she said after the public announcement was made on Tuesday.
My ears are still ringing with the sounds of Adam Moscowitz’s voice at this year’s Cheesemonger Invitational (last Friday the 8th). Despite a depressing drizzle outside, the competition could still be heard and smelled from many yards away. Held in Larkin warehouse, in Long Island City, the event was a big frigging deal.
For perspective, note this: three Australian cheesemongers made the trip from down under JUST for this event.