February 2009 Archives

Beehive Cheese in SF Chronicle!

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So Pat from Beehive Cheese called me at work earlier this week to get a reference check on an old fellow cheese monger who may end up working part time with them making cheese. At one point in our conversation, he informs me that they'd recently had a chat with the San Francisco Chronicle's Janet Fletcher and were the feature of her most recent cheese column. Excellent!

You can read the article here.

I love Janet's articles, and if you don't have her section of the Chron bookmarked please do.

In this article, she features Beehive's award winning Barely Buzzed Cheddar (it's taken the blue ribbon for flavored cheddars at the American Cheese Society Conference two years running)... a cheddar that's been rubbed with a turkish ground espresso roasted for the boys at Beehive by Tim's brother in Colorado. The Beehive Blend I believe it's called. In addition to the coffee, there is dried lavender in the rub as well.

I'm not one for flavored cheeses. Usually, if I'm buying one, it's for use as an ingredient or spread (garlic fromage d'affinois steak sandwiches anyone?). When I first saw Barely Buzzed, I was working as a cheese monger for Harmons here in Salt Lake shortly after moving up from Tucson. My first thoughts were something along the lines of "Ugh... trendy gimmick cheese? No thanks." But those thoughts were soon erased.

I think also that this cheese has evolved over these last couple years with little tweaks here and there I'm sure, but I'll let Pat and Tim hang onto those secrets. The first wheel I sold through wasn't bad. Not like the skeptic in me wanted it to be. But the flavors didn't come together like they do in the wheels coming out these days. The coffee was very prominent, sometimes overpowering the cheese itself, in my opinion.

Nowadays though, the flavors are balanced nicely. The coffee lends a chocolatey smokiness to the cheese, and the cheese itself is rich and tangy... assertive enough to dance lively with the beans. The lavendar? Sometimes I can taste it, sometimes I can't... but if you really want to bring it out, have a nibble on some Barely Buzzed with your morning coffee. Coffee and cheese? In this case, most certainly yes.

A couple times since I've been working at Liberty Heights now, I've had the luck to receive in a wheel of Barely Buzzed where the curds must have been just loose enough and moist enough that the coffee managed to seep its way inside. Those wheels have had a lovely light carmel colored hint of marbling throughout, and a rich creamy cappuccino flavor to the body of the cheese... a true coffee lover's delight. Those wheels always fly out the door.

Fun cheese. Great guys. I'm glad to see them so successful and growing! And I'm glad to have had at least a small hand in helping them get there.

baby ate a bad bad cheese...

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I'm prone to try a lot of interesting, perhaps strange foods at times... on purpose... but what tends to shake me is when I end up eating something that is just totally unexpectedly bad...

Today for instance. What made it worse was that it was something I know to be actually quite good... just not this particular time. Perhaps you are familiar with Grafton's 2 year old Reserve Cheddar? A rather pleasant example of a sharp Vermont style cheddar... creamy, tangy, delicious...

Well, I went to crack open a new delivery and the bag my brick of cheese was in was bloated a pillowy. While this was not a new phenomenon (a lot of cryovaced cheeses will emit some gasses in storage and produce bloating like that... usually CO2, nothing weird)... the smell to come was.

As soon as I sliced open the plastic, the kitchen was filled with a strong sour rotten egg scent, gassy and extremely sulphuric... Our faces mirrored one another in a moment of "WTF"

I removed the cheese and set it on the counter to air out, and while it did I hopped on the computer to google up some information. I was unable to find anything about whether this phenomenon was actually bad or not. I did however find some rather interesting scientific studies as to the effects of various starter cultures, enzymes, and aging processes upon the emissions that cheeses may have.

What I found out about sulphuric gasses was that they are natural... sometimes caused by certain enzymes... sometimes by what was called accelerated aging... which however was unclear as to whether that meant an artificial induction of aging or an acceleration caused by reactions to said enzymes or what.

Without a concrete "Don't eat that!" I simply waited while the cheese aired out. The smell mellowed, and there was but a faint hint of egg, so I decided to cut into it and find what I might find... as I laid it down, a chunk fell off and I picked it up.

Maybe a normal person would have stopped there... or maybe just thrown the sucker out before even opening it! But not me.

I picked up the little chunk and rolled it in my fingers... it felt as it should... firm and slightly moist/oily... I smelled it and could detect again just a hint of something off... so I popped it into my mouth.

The second it hit my tongue, my senses were assaulted by the most horrendous and overwhelming flavor of... rot. nasty. sulphuric. rot. I felt as if I had slipped a hard boiled egg into my mouth that had been eaten and excreted whole. I ran for the trash, and then for the front of the store where I purchased a Blenheim's Hot Ginger Ale and proceeded to gargle and chug to erase the foulness that had smeared itself upon my palette.

So... for future referece: rotten egg smell? BAD!

I know now... and knowing is half the battle.

web celebrity lol

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Oh hai! I r on teh web!

Ria pointed out to me today that there were some new changes to the Liberty Heights website including new pictures of us!

http://libertyheightsfresh.com/portal/taste_makers/whos_more_food_obsessed_than_us/

I was talking to this customer about the differences in Gorgonzola that we carry. Wish the angle better captured my case more and my lopsided smile less. Har! But there I am at work. Woo!

Reading the text on that particular page, I'm honored.

Cheese Tasting/Pairing 2/2/09

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Steven wanted me to go along with him tonight to teach a course on cheese and pairings at the U, but there was no one able to cover my closing shift. Instead, I sent along my cheese and accompaniment choices for the class. (And since this is Utah and we didn't want to chance it, cider was served as refreshment in lieu of wine... unpasteurized and local of course!) The class was to introduce people to not only basic types of cheeses, but what they might not think of to eat them with. A pairing 101.

Here is what I chose for the class:

Gorgonzola Dolce (a very soft young Italian blue) paired with honey (a basic no brainer... safe, but classic and delicious)

MouCo Colorouge (a lightly washed then soft-ripened cheese from Colorado) paired with Matiz Fig Syrup

Gravenstein Gold (cider-washed rind goats milk cheese from Redwood Hill Farm in California) paired with Mostarda di Uva (one of my faves... made with grapes, figs, pears, quince, pumpkin, and nuts)

Zwister Gouda (aged raw milk cheese from Rock Hill Creamery here in Utah. nice and zippy!) paired with Corazon Membrillo paste

Extra Aged Mimolette (delicious and eye-catching (looks like a canteloupe) French cheese made with the help of myriad cheese mites. yummy!) paired with fried and salted Marcona Almonds.

Thus, we had pastes, spreads, syrups, and nuts paired with 5 of 7 cheese families... soft-ripened, semi-hard, hard, blue, and washed-rind.

Steven introduced and talked about each of the cheeses and pairings, and also invited the class to experiment as each person's taste varies. After the class though, he called me at work to let me know that everyone was raving over my choices and liked them best in the end. Always nice to hear things like that. Makes me think I might actually know what I'm doing!

I think we might convert the class into an employee tasting next, then try to incorporate these things into our daily samplings in the store as well.

Good times, good food. Yum!

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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