As a Brit living in the US and with July 4th fast approaching, historical dates are on my mind. So, last night I decided to refresh my memory about some of these pivotal moments in Anglo-American relations and the repercussions surrounding these events. For instance, how interesting, that Americans decided to symbolically boycott English tea, thereby giving rise to the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
The Cheese Stands Alone
Despite the heat, the new cheese arrived safely at my family's small artisan bakery in Old Town, Cottonwood, Arizona (near Sedona). Old Town is presently enjoying a foodie boom with several wine tasting rooms, an olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop, a chocolate and cheese shop and other small enterprises geared toward people who love to eat good food. Our emerging wineries here in the Verde Valley are prospering as well as winning impressive awards. Contrary to popular opinion, we do not allow firearms into our bakery nor do we witness many gun battles on Main Street. As for myself, I help my sons with the baking, make my own raw milk goat cheeses, and tend my grandchildren, my large garden, my Nubian goats, and my Jersey Giant hens... in that order.
As one of the "amateur" cheese tasters for "Birth of a Cheese," my first reaction to the unmarked package was "Wow, now this is a serious cheese!" I immediately had to open the box and try it, then and there. But, I felt like I was cheating a little bit so I nibbled the very end and put the cheese back in the icebox so I could ponder my first experience. But low and behold, I kept sneaking back- I cut off the very end, let it sit and took a taste. Well, then I HAD to try some of the middle...and then I HAD to make sure that I cut it straight and folded the foil just right. From side to side, I loved the different nuances. The bold flavor near the edges felt completely different than the really creamy middle- but each bite delicious. When I first tried the cheese, I did not have the patience to let it warm to room temp and I thought it was good. But once I let it sit and warm I realized just how great it is; thi
As a result of the disasterous earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand last September, Sarah and Martin Aspinwall lost their beloved cheese store Canterbury Cheesemongers, their café and bakery.
Although the store itself was still standing after the quake, the building was deemed unsafe and demolished shortly thereafter. Despite this huge setback, Sarah and Martin relocated their business to a new premises, only to be hit again two weeks after they opened in February. Fortunately, there was less damage this time around and they are still open for business.
July, and the year tips into high summer, furious growth limited by dry weather and plants seeding. Animals and plants have that well fed look – house martens wheel around the house, giving us freedom from hornets coming in in the evening – do these tiny birds take those huge insects? I drove back from talking to the Exmoor Women Farming Group across Exmoor, expecting to see wildlife along the way – not much – as soon as I got onto our farm, I saw fallow deer, a fat badger, and two roly-poly fox cubs. Squirrels are eating my strawberries; last year I was getting a colander a day, this year just a handful. I’ve got electrified chicken wire and two nets around them, and they are jumping the wire and breaking the net. Next is to completely encase the strawberries in a cage of chicken wire. Too much wildlife!
“Cull, clear your calendar, we’re tasting experimental mystery cheese this weekend.” Cullen generally goes along with whatever food adventure I bounce into. The weekend before he stood happily by as I bought and fried pigs’ ears for dinner. Before that, it was the place that served all types of tongue. He grins with pride as I scarf down stinky fermented natto-it looks like alien spawn and might taste pretty similar, but I’m satisfied that’s a good thing, and he’s not going to argue. Just so long as I can figure out how to pair everything I consume with craft beer. I’ll try anything but eyeball, pig nose and Brussels’ sprouts. Fortunately, none of those have a corresponding brew match, so we’re good.
My love affair with cheese started at a young age with the more processed cheeses like Velveeta and Kraft Singles. Later in life I graduated to elevated levels of cheese nirvana and now include Camboloza, Broschetto Al Tartufo, and Pierre Robert among my favorites. I have champagne taste on a beer budget (or a reasonable wine budget) and would rather spend my last pennies on a small wedge of fine cheese than on a big meal. I am a novice cheese-taster, but definitely a pro at eating it; so imagine my surprise and excitement when I was chosen to be on the Point Reyes Birth of a Cheese Tasting Panel.
I can safely say that receiving cheese in the mail is just about one of the coolest things that can happen to a cheese geek like me. I spend most waking moments surrounded by cheese, whether it be cheese monger by day at Whole Foods Market, or cheese maker by night in my messy and cluttered home kitchen. To have the opportunity to try a brand new cheese that is unavailable to the general public is nothing short of thrilling.
My name is Donna (from Cookistry) and I'm a cheese-aholic. "Hi Donna, why are you here?" Well, FedEx dropped off a blue cheese for me to taste-test, and I have to confess that until recently, I wasn't a big fan of blue cheeses. Or, more accurately, I was so traumatized by bad bottled blue cheese dressings as a child that it took me many years to come around to the world of Real Blue. And now, here I am, on a cheese tasting panel. "So what's the problem, Donna?" Oh nothing. Just wanted to clear the air before we got to the evaluation. Just in case anyone knew me from back then. Before I knew better.