Tuesday, February 27, 2007

what to read

Guide du Fromage by Pierre Androuet
The english edition is old and out of date and still a great resource, you can probably find one on www.abebooks.com for less than $30. Well worth the effort and expenditure.
The Cheese Primer by Steve Jenkins
A fine "101" cornerstone book, by the man who has done more for specialty cheese retailing in New York City than anyone.
The Cheese Plate by Max McCalman
From the maitre fromagier at Artisanal comes his take on a cornerstone book. Not as complete as the "Primer" but well worth the time and some excellent food porn photography
Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best by Max McCalman
His 102 (or is it 201) book, a superb consumer's guide to the best cheeses in the world and what to pair with them. The pairing ideas are worth the price alone; he goes well beyond the conventional wisdom.
American Farmstead Cheese by Paul Kinstedt
Truly one for the curd nerds. This is an intro text for everyone interested in learning cheesemaking at the University level.
The World of French Cheese by Patrick Rance
Okay, this one is grad level stuff, and a beautiful 600 pages in which nearly 100 are devoted to the idiosyncracies of geography. It's dense and wonderful and worth searching the rare book sites for it.

A few blogs
Anne Saxelby runs the coolest cheese stand in town, an American artisanal cheese shop in the Essex Market on the Lower East Side.
needs no explanation
The blog of Sasha Davies and Micahel Claypool, who drove across the country and back in 2006 visiting many of the major creameries that are putting American cheesemaking on the international map

Cheese and Coffee?

No, that's not an upcoming tasting.

It's just that 10 Degrees isn't the only great cheese program downtown.
Think Coffee, 248 Mercer St. also http://www.thinkcoffeenyc.com/ has launched it's own hand-crafted cheese and wine program. It offers a bunch of fine cheeses including Lincolnshire Poacher, Marcel Petite Comte, Seankanter, and everybody's favorite new American classic, Humboldt Fog.
The wines are heavily tilted toward old world with a nice diversity of dynamics.
Best of all, Lincoln and Shane, the two folks who run it, know their shit.

It's a coffee shop at heart so it's only open till midnight, but when in the Village, it's where to go.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Cheese of the Moment, 02.26.07

I love almost all sheep cheeses: pecorinos like Grand Old Man or Foja Di Noce, Manchego styles like Roncal or Zamarano, Brits like Berskwell and Spenwood, Americans like Weston Wheel, Shepherd's Basket, and of course Vermont Shepherd, and of course I particularly love the firm cheeeses from the French Pyrenees like Ossau Iraty, Abbey De Belloc, and Tourmalet.
I also love almost all the cheeses aged or distributed by Rolf Beeler.

So it's a mystery to me how I let Stanser Shafkase escape my notice for soooo long. It's a sheep cheese (the name transliterates sheep cheese) from the German side of Switzerland yet it has all the balance and delicate sweetness of the Pyrenees delights, as well as a bit of the hazelnut middle that distinguish so many cheeses of Switzerland. It comes to the U.S via the caves of Rolf Beeler outside of Baden.

I'd pair it with a Pinot Noir, and I'm eager to see what Dave at Spuyten Duyvil thinks about beer matches.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Future Joy of Cheese Tastings

The 10 Degrees tastings after the Martini Madness will be All About Chevre in April (probably April 17th and 24th and 26th but that's not etched in stone yet). And Viva Italia (probably the 8th , 15th and 17th).

Should be fun.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Martini Madness Takes over 10 Degrees

The Joy of Cheese Presents Martini Madness

I was chatting with Max McCalman of Artisanal one night and he offhandedly said, you can’t pair cheeses with vodka, can you?
I took it as a challenge, not a decree. The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. Find 12 cheeses that don’t have a strong funky finish, but are still distinctive, intriguing and flow well together. After thinking about the matter for a few minutes, I had 30 possibilities.
The next step was to figure out when to schedule the tasting. I chose the dead of winter because, well, it’s the dead of winter. Martinis and great cheese seem like the perfect way to brighten the dull days between Valentine’s Day and the arrival of spring.
So please join us for a tasting that will roll through some JoC faves like Doddington and Ascutney Mount as well as many other cheddar, gruyere, manchego, percorino and aged gouda variants. Although this menu will be heavily titled toward firm cheeses—and we’ll discuss how the production of each varies--there will be a few softies. I doubt we’ll have any blues (but you never know). Of course, there will be dark chocolate, fruit and a couple of mystery cheeses.
I’ve pegged these cheeses to classic gin and vodka martinis, but if that isn’t your drink, cosmos, sweet white wines or a pinot noir will also pair well.

Tuesdays March 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th as well as Thursday March 15th and 29th from 7-8:30 at 10 Degrees, 121 St. Mark’s Place, 212-358-8600.

10 Degrees is a stellar wine and upscale spirits bar that opened in May.
Tickets are $30; you pay for your drinks separately.

To reserve space contact me at thejoyofcheese@yahoo.com

I hope to see you there!


Cheese Lovers of the World Unite!

Okay, maybe not the world, but cheese lovers of New York City unite!
Welcome to the Joy of Cheese blog.
For those of you new to this, The Joy of Cheese is my roving cheese party business. Since May 2005, I've gone to homes from Park Slope to East Brunswick holding cheese tastings. And since May of 2006, I've held monthly tastings at 10 Degrees, the wine and high end spirits bar in the East Village at 121 St. Mark's Place.
To bring cheese to the people!
There's more truly great cheese available to the Gotham public now than ever before, yet the gap between the people interested in that cheese and the cheese itself has never been greater. Routine specialty food retailers like Fairway, Citerella, Zabar's, Garden of Eden, Gourmet Garage, etc., carry a small--very small--fraction of these cheeses if they carry any at all. Unless you frequent a select handful of places like The Bedford Cheese Shop (where I work on weekends), Murray's, Artisanal, Stinky Bklyn, Saxelby Cheesemongers or Formaggio Essex, you might never encounter some of the great culinary wonders.

But why?
Well, I've worked in and around specialty cheese since 1984, with a prominent gap from the mid '90s until 2003, and when I returned I wanted to find a way of working in this business without doing the 60-hour a week retail hell that I'd endured in the late '80s and early '90s. The Joy of Cheese was just such a vehicle. I enjoy talking to people about cheese. This is a way to do it and have them have fun while they listen.

Okay, but what is a Joy of Cheese tasting?
It involves 8-10 cheeses within a theme, fruit, dark chocolate, and two mystery cheeses (no I'm not asking people to sample a cheese then stand up and say "oh, why that's Ticklemore, a firm chevre from Devon England" or "oh, that's the Tuma Persa from Sicily." More power to you if you can identify those cheeses, but mostly the mystery cheese is a way see if you're paying attention to what your palate is telling you. The cheese will always reference a type of milk or a cheesemaking tradition from earlier in the tasting.
Anyway, there's an introductory cheese, followed by a flight of three cheeses, fruit and a mystery cheese, another flight, more fruit and another mystery cheese, another flight and dark chocolate to finish. During the tasting, I'll talk--have you noticed I'm kinda wordy--about each cheese and I'm happy to field questions about cheeses from fat content to the politics of pasteurization.
Even I have fun, though I'm ready to keep quiet for the rest of the night by the time the tasting is over.

See other posts for tasting schedule.