A good friend of mine was recently told that her cholesterol levels were too high. She was handed the usual dietary order: Cut out dairy foods—like cheese and butter—that have saturated fat. This has been the standard prescription from doctors for more than 20 years, despite the fact that epidemiological studies and new research don’t support this blanket rejection of dairy. Remember the French Paradox? (Even with all the yummy cheese and butter that’s consumed in France, the natives have much less heart disease than Americans.) And there’s this post from a scientist regarding a 15-year study in Australia that found: “people who mostly avoided dairy or consumed low-fat dairy had more than three times the risk of dying of coronary heart disease or stroke than people who ate the most full-fat diary.”
Another recent photo find, this time from the Museum of Food Anomalies:
According to the accompanying text, "Rick sliced into a block of cheese to find the first-ever sighting of a possible descendant of the "Man in the Moon.'"
Autumn is really here. The high winds, residues of American hurricanes, have let us know summer has gone. Now the gathering dark in the mornings & evenings shows we are on the long switchback journey down to the shortest day. The consolation prize is those bright autumn days of colourful leaves vivid in the sunshine, every sunlit detail highlighted by the shadows as the sun gets lower in the sky.
Taza Chocolate in Somerville Ma.
5 years ago Alex Whitmore and partners Larry Slotnick and Kathleen Fulton (also Alex's wife) started this mesoamerican-style bean-to-bar chocolate factory. And true to their vision, this chocolate is handmade from start to finish. They buy their beans in the DR, Mexico, Belize, and they recently added Bolivia. (note: if you get a chance, try the 87% bolivian choc bar side by side with the 80% DR...then you'll really see what terroir means to the cacao bean.)
Their beans are fermented, which means, like all things fermented, flavor is amped. And then they get roasted (in the fabulous Willi Wonka machine pictured below. don't you want one? I do. and it's RED!) The beans are then stone ground, on mexican stone mills that Alex hand chisels himself (check out the pic below of him holding one.) Impressive.
I felt like Miss Muffet—she of the classic cheesy nursery rhyme—the other day. While picnicking in the woods with some of my favorite curds (albeit no whey), a very big spider appeared and made its way straight for the cheese. It was an unappetizing move, but a curious one too. Do spiders really like cheese, I wondered? After all, aren’t cheese mites related to spiders? This six-legged visitor stayed quite some time on my slice but I couldn’t tell if he/she was actually eating it. For those who might be wondering the exact same thing (I know there are some of you out there), here’s what I’ve found out about spider sustenance:
Spiders eat live prey only. (Maybe cheese is considered live? After all it “ages.”)
Since hurricane Irene hit two weeks ago, upstate New York has been awash (pardon the pun) in bad news about regions and towns destroyed by floods. I have seen some of the devastation and it can’t be exaggerated. But thankfully, other areas came through the storm with their beauty and buildings intact. Like Washington County, just above the upper Hudson Valley, which hosted a local Cheese Tour this past weekend, inviting the public to visit five farmstead cheesemakers who are tucked away on the back roads of some tiny towns. With map in hand, I made it to the various cheese stops on the tour and came back with a bundle of exceptional cheeses I bought off the farms—plus a whole new appreciation for the bucolic county just an hour north of me. It’s a rare gem of agricultural charm and vitality. Here’s a little photo diary of my sunny Saturday spent visiting the cheesemakers (and an ice cream maker!).
A Tale of 2 Thursdays, part 1:
Blowsy late summer seeps into the richness and edge of early autumn. Field margins are heavy with grass seedheads, hedgerows richly hanging with blackberries, rosehip, haws, sloes. Jack rabbits look fat and prosperous, foxes well covered, the buzzards well grown and lazy - meat is easy to find. They take off heavily from a branch as you walk along, do they get too heavy to take off if they eat to much?