Monday, October 22, 2007

A Man Called Rolf

The Joy of Cheese Presents A Man Called Rolf

Switzerland is one of the great cheesemaking nations of the world and Rolf Beeler is out to prove it. His Gruyere is so dense and wonderful that people have it and break out into song (well not just anybody, the singing man was a professional opera singer). His other cheeses make people who aren’t musicians hear music too.

There’s a lot more to the Switzerland tradition than Emmenthal and Gruyere and we’re going to explore them in the November tasting series at 10 Degrees. Expect cheeses like Forsterkase, Half Moon, Riesling X Sylvaner, Fricalin and maybe, just maybe…a very special seasonal cheese. Most of the cheeses will be by Rolf Beeler but not all; we will introduce cheeses by up-and-coming affineurs as well, and we will probably sneak an American into the mix for comparison.

Overall we will investigate 12-14 cheeses; there will be dark chocolate, fruit and two mystery cheeses. I am happy to answer questions about these cheeses and about cheese in general.

The tastings are Tuesdays November 6th and 13th as well as Thursday November 8th

As always the tastings run from just after 7 until around 8:30 at 10 Degrees, the wonderful wine and high end spirits bar at 121 St. Marks Place in the East Village. Admission to the tasting is $30 and you pay for your drinks as you go.

Reservations are a must. Contact me at

And The Joy of Cheese now has a column, The Joys of Cheese at

Next tastings: January dates tba, our second annual celebration of Ports and Blues


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cheese that's rocking my world these days

Tarentaise: a wonderful Vermont interpretation of the French classic Tomme D'Abondance. Whereas its inspiration offers a gentle balance of nuttiness and earthiness, Tarentaise, especially when aged nine months or longer, is a big burst of roasted macadamia nuts. I love it melted.

Persielle Des Tignes. Speaking of mouthfuls, this cylinder of firm goat's milk cheese hails from the Rhone Valley and it's a big mouthful of dirt. In a good way. Show this to the next person who says you can't pair goat's milk cheeses with red wine. This baby screams for a Chateauneuf du Pape.

Bleu D'Auvergne Mons: Not just any ol' Bleu D'Auvergne, but the one from Herve Mons! Harvey's spin on the basic French blue is a sweet creamy and biting. You'd almost think it was a Roquefort.

The World needs more Cheesemongers!

Friday late afternoon, I was at Dean and DeLuca's Soho branch waiting behind a customer who was getting a nice spread of cheese. The customer looked at the wide variety of chevres available and wondered aloud where to begin. I pointed him to Gianni Cora's Caprino Castagna, a beautifully supple fresh goat's milk cheese from Tuscany wrapped in chestnut leaves. When his counterperson returned, the customer mentioned that he was interested in a chevre and that this Caprino Castagna looked interesting. The counterperson immediately brushed aside his interest and talked him into Humboldt Fog, a well known goat cheese from Northern California. Excitedly, the counterperson said"it's a goat cheese but it's not stong!" as if that was some sort of ringing endorsement.

Oh well. Great cheese counters should have competent staff, but that's probably asking too much these days.