My excursion into the world of formal cheese education last night was a success.
I arrived at the famous Murray’s cheese on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village a little nervous. Although I’ve been making my Brooklyn Cheese for more than six months now, would I be a complete novice in a room full of dairy mavens and TUROPHILES (That’s definitely the SAT word of the day)? With all of these sophisticated New Yorkers, would I end up looking like a Kraft single in a room full of aged cheddar and weepy brie?
My fears were quickly put to rest by the friendliness of the staff at Murrays and by the laid-back teacher of the class, Wil Edwards. Aside from teaching this class, Wil is an editor at the new Culture Magazine . He has spent years working on goat and sheep farms in California and Europe and he is a great photographer. Will is also opening an Artisan Food School. Very cool.
During the class, we tried 10 different cheese and learned a lot about the cheese making process. Most of the class was review for me, but i did learn some new things. I loved Wil’s passionate insistence that when you eat cheese, the cheesemaker is as much on your plate as the cheese itself. Each cheese is an art just like painting or photography.
My favorite cheese of the evening was Pleasant Ridge Reserve, a raw, cow’s milk from 9 cross breeds handcrafted by Mike Gingrich. It is so damn good! From the Uplands Cheese Company that makes this cheese:
“Pleasant Ridge Reserve is an artisanal cheese made from the non-pasteurized milk of a single herd of Wisconsin cows fed and managed using natural, “old world” practices. Our cows graze lush pastures from early spring through fall, just as all cows did before the industrialization of our food system. The resulting milk has better nutritional value and more varied and subtle flavors that are expressed in the delicate flavor profile of Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese.”
I also learned about a rare Italian delicacy called “callu cabetu cheese” that is literally cheese curds formed in a baby goat (kid)’s stomach. The kid is slaughtered and the cheese is served or sold right out of the stomach. Yuk, but definitely interesting. According to Wil, this is how rennet (the enzyme used by cheesemakers to harden or coagulate milk) was discovered: a baby goat was slaughtered and they saw that the milk it had drunk was now chees-y in its stomach. Wow.
Another thing I learned about was Washed Rind Cheeses. Here’s a video explaining how it’s done (Although these guys are whacky Canadians, they explain it nicely) :
I’m thinking of going to Murray’s Cheese U Bootcamp in two weeks. Anyone else planning on going?