Indulge in an evening of decadence and deliciousness! Andrew Wilder and Matty Sterenchock will come to your home - along with organic milk, cheesemaking supplies, three bottles of wine and a mitxure of hard and soft cheeses - to show you step-by-step how to make a mozzarella and a lemon cheese, while we enjoy together some fine homemade and California wines and delectable locally and domestically-made artisanal cheeses.
If you're in the LA area and want to play, bid on the auction! (Bidding closes Jan 24, 2010 at 11:00 PM PST)
Update: The auction has ended with a whopping $175.00 bid! Woohoo!
My friend Wendy sent me this New York Times story on a new Camembert made from pasteurized milk that aims to be as good as ones made with raw milk. (If a cheese is made with raw milk it must be aged at least 60 days before it can be sold in the U.S. That doesn't work so well for Camembert!) Time for a trip to Whole Foods!
Oh, and I'm also adding "Make my own Camembert" to my list of 2010 New Year's Resolutions. I've been shying away from trying to make (intentionally) moldy cheeses... until now. Stay tuned...
Update: So apparently H. Mons made a deal with Whole Foods so that they'd be the only distributor of his cheeses. That'd be fine by me, I guess, except every WF I've been to (in both Los Angeles and San Diego) has been sold out since the holidays! They keep telling me they're waiting for another shipment, and to stay tuned. So until then, no camembert for moi!
Our New Year's Eve feast began with an assortment of cheeses, both homemade and professionally-sourced. The two large wedges in the photo came from the Beehive Cheese Co., from a Wine Woot purchase a few weeks ago. On the far left is the Barely Buzzed, a nutty and crisp cow's milk cheese, rubbed with coffee and lavender. We actually broke this open last week, and weren't too impressed. This time, however, it really hit the spot. I can't imagine that an extra week of "aging" made much of a difference, so perhaps it was just our mood. In any event, it was definitely a popular choice. The other large wedge, on the right, is Beehive's Seahive, a salt & honey cheese. I would actually prefer if it had a stronger honey flavor, but it was delicious nevertheless.
In the center of the main board is our homemade Habanero Jack. I was a bit worried that it wouldn't be spicy enough, but it turned out quite nicely -- not too much pepper flavor, but it had a lingering heat that was perfect for a cold winter night. It was still a bit too crumbly, though. It might be time to invest in a proper pH meter -- I clearly need to work on getting the right acidity level before adding the rennet.
On the plates at top is some freshly-made Chèvre. We kept one plain (just lightly salted), one is rolled in Herbs de Provence [wikipedia], one is rolled in fresh ground black pepper, and then the crowning experiment achievement is the little guy sitting on his own plate -- it was rolled in cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and chopped pistachios.
We ran out of crackers fairly quickly, but found that the hard cheeses were a perfect substitute. We simply cut off a piece and slathered the chevre right on top. The Barely Buzzed and Herbs de Provence worked perfectly together (lavender! lavender!), and the Pistachio Extravaganza and Seahive were great together as well.
My friends Sean and Michelle showed up to my holiday party with the perfect gift: Three wonderful cheeses they discovered at Venissimo Cheese, their neighborhood shop in San Diego.
First up: On the far left is the Humboldt Fog, an increasingly-popular goat's milk surface-ripened cheese from Cypress Grove. The vein of edible ash is the signature mark of this rich, creamy, and delicious monster. (I'm a big fan of Cypress Grove's cheeses -- especially the Fog and the Truffle Tremor, one of the most spectacularly decadent and knee-buckling cheeses I've encountered.) Venissimo's notes: California's top seller, with a ribbon of edible ash. Herbaceous & Tangy. Recommended Wines: Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Dry Rose, White Burgundy, Super Tuscan, or a wheat beer.
In the middle is a Goat Sage Cheddar from Spring Hill Cheese Co. in Petaluma, CA. The distinctive goat's milk tanginess melds beautifully with the sage, creating a zesty and robust kick... what an earthy delight! Venissimo's notes: Organic, pasture-fed, infused with sage, herbaceous and fresh, perfect on pizza. Recommended Wines: Chardonnay, Champagne.
Finally we have the real zinger, the Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar from Carr Valley Cheese in Wisconsin. This white cheddar has huge smokiness and tang, followed by the slightly tart and sweet cranberries, ending with quite a bit of heat. Venissimo's notes: Studded with cranberries, infused with chipotle, sweet, BBQ sauce flavor, incredible melted! Recommended Wine: Zinfandel.
Served with Fuyu Persimmon, Medjool Dates, and water crackers, this sampler was the perfect year-end treat. Thanks, Sean and Michelle! You're the best.