Just stumbled across this nice little primer on the science of curds via BoingBoing (yeah, I read it).
I just got back from a month in Australia. What do I miss most, besides my best mates and Aussie humor? The nature and the smells. They're often linked, actually. Walking around the Barossa Valley (South Australia), strong wafts of peppermint (eucalyptus trees) backed with black pepper and lemon (also from the trees and native scrub) swirl around me. Then there's the ubiquitous rosemary and sweet lavender that grow so well that some use them for hedgerows. The air often has a dusty, clay-like scent, possibly from that iron-rich, sunbaked red soil mixed with a deep, meaty undertones that I want to believe is Vegemite...but I really have no idea where it comes from.
Although I’ve spent heaps of time in Australia over the years, I’ve never really spent any of it in the Yarra Valley. Due east (and slightly north) of Melbourne, this wine region is only an hour’s drive from the big city through horse and pony-laden pastures and undulating hills with a backdrop of the Dandenong ranges. Affluent but unpretentious, the wineries are not only welcoming but still free for tastings…and the wines made my big, fruit and alcohol-laden Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz palate SO HAPPY! Lean, expressive Chardonnays and Pinot noirs layered with dry spices pair so well with cheeses of all kinds. I swilled my way all over that valley and made sure that the local economy was in an upturn. Next blog will detail the wineries specifically and the wine/cheese pairings we found.
05 May 2011
Ha! Victory has been had in the war on finding the Middle-Eastern products I adore... I have found my Labneh, right here in Sonoma even, at Sonoma Market (http://www.sonoma-glenellenmkt.com.) Much to my surprise, I found it at a most abundant location, as opposed to the less-than-luxurious environments I had imagined trekking to Oakland or Berkley to a Middle Eastern specialty market and being pushed around by the regular customers as I have in the past. Those living in L.A. can relate if you’ve ever shopped at the fabulous Elat Market (http://www.yelp.com/biz/elat-market-los-angeles) on Pico Blvd. (Best Bulgarian Feta, btw.) But today in Sonoma is about both victory and convenience. Right on! So, what came next? Lunch.
Hola from Spain! I landed this morning in Barcelona and was then taxied to the town of Vic, an hour northwest of Barcelona for Lactium 2011—a gathering of Spanish cheesemakers and street cheese fare. As one of the fortunate invitees of this event, I get be to part of the “Super Jury,” a group of 34 international judges who will name The Best Catalan Cheese on Saturday. The festival begins tomorrow, May 6, when market stalls on the wide boulevard, Rambla del Carme fill up with cheesemakers and the contest ensues. Eyewitness reports on that to come. . .
When spring starts, I always get a sense of relief and surprise that it really is happening again. Now it’s May, that initial disbelief is replaced by complete amazement at how much life, growth, wild energy suffuses everything I can see.
Every hedgerow has gone crazy, sending out the cow parsley that grows visibly day to day, suddenly the lanes are too narrow for cars to go down without the delicate flowers stroking the sides. The thorn hedge that I laid, worried it would kill the blackthorn and hawthorn, is flowering for England on its side. Pairs of birds fly flirtatiously together, absorbed in each other, oblivious of predators for the only time in the year. The dazzling succession of greens in the woodland deepens and starts becoming one great motor of growth as all the leaves have unfurled from their delicate winter protection and open themselves, like photovoltaic cells, to harvest the sun’s energy.
San Simon is a tasty, not so well-known cow’s milk cheese from the region of Galicia, in Northeastern Spain. While curating a selection of smoked cheeses for a feature in our Summer 2011 issue, I got to learn more about this unusual cheese from Michele Buster, owner of Forever Cheese, who imports a wonderful traditional version into the United States. Here is a description and some photos taken by Michele on a visit to San Simon producer, Javier Pineiro.
The origins of San Simon are not wholly known; while some believe the cheese dates back to Roman times, others say it was developed at the beginning of the 20th century.
Either way, San Simon increased in popularity over the last seventy years. Until the 1980’s, cheeses were most often produced by housewives, using the milk from their own cows, frequently the Galician Blonde breed. The production process is very labor intensive, often with an output per person of only two or three cheeses each day.
I spent my entire senior year at Emerson College in a turmoil of stomach pain before it dawned on me that I might have an allergy to something. As a rabid consumer of coffee, mostly in (iced) latte form, there were zero minutes in the day when milk was not in my system. Therefore, lactose intolerance never crossed my mind. Finally, a friend recommended I avoid dairy for a day. This was excruciating (hello, my COFFEE!), but I went with a black americano and voila! It was the most amazing feeling. Peace in my stomach!
Clearly, foregoing dairy was not a long term option for someone like me. I despised the chalky aftertaste of soy, and had absolutely no interest in venturing into the world of rice or almond milk. I NEEDED a way to get back to eating cheese, ice cream, and drinking iced lattes (believe it or not, I’m not obese).