Mimolette. Red Leicester. Shropshire Blue. What do these three cheeses have in common? They are all orange and they are all colored with annatto. Annatto is a somewhat mysterious ingredient added to a number of cheeses and, recently, I took a minute to research where it comes from and a bit of its history. (more…)
Archive for the ‘FAQs’ Category
Posted in Cheese, FAQs, Food History, Herbs, Spices, Salts & Peppers, tagged achiote, achiote tree, annatto, Bixa orellana, Cheese, coloring, food additives, natural coloring, roucou on July 26, 2012 | 4 Comments »
When we started this blog, one of our main goals was to answer some of the questions we most regularly get on the cheese counter. As our blog’s archive has grown, we realize that some of these posts are becoming a little bit difficult to find so, here, under one header, we bring together the answers to some of those commonly asked questions!
- How do I put together a cheese plate?
- Do you eat the rind on this cheese?
- What exactly are double and triple-crème cheeses?
- What is a washed-rind cheese?
- How should I store my cheese?
- BONUS: a little bit of cheese history.
We hope that these posts continue to help folks understand and love cheese as much as we do. As always, please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions!
Posted in Cheese, Education, FAQs, Food History, Pairings, tagged Brie, Brillat-Savarin, camembert, Champagne, Cheese, Cremont, Délice de Bourgogne, double cream, double-crème, food, Le Magnum, Parmigiano Reggiano, Petit Suisse, triple cream, triple-crème on February 10, 2011 | 7 Comments »
The terms “double-crème” and “triple-crème” are bandied about a lot in cheese shops. While most folks have a general idea of what they mean in terms of texture (creamy, spreadable!) and flavor (buttery, lactic!) for a cheese, these terms actually have very specific meanings. (more…)
We carry a number of AOC cheeses here at Formaggio Kitchen: Époisses, Langres, Comté and Fourme d’Ambert, to name a few. As a result (and not surprisingly), one of the questions that we often field on the cheese counter is what the term AOC actually tells us about a given cheese.
AOC stands for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (translating to: Controlled Name of Origin) and is a designation of process and provenance that is used in France. There are equivalents of the AOC program in other countries – in Italy it is called DOC (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata) or DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta)*, in Spain it is called DO (Denominacion de Origen) and, in the EU as a whole, the designation is PDO** (Protected Designation of Origin). (more…)
A common question we get on the cheese counter is about how to put together a cheese plate, be it for a cocktail party or as a dinner course. There aren’t any rules per se – after all, it really comes down to what you will enjoy eating! That said, when customers ask, we generally offer the following recommendations:
- It’s usually nice to include at least one cheese from each of the three major milk categories: cow, sheep and goat.
- Similarly, we like to include a variety of textures. For example, one might choose something smooth and spreadable (think Camembert, Brie or a chèvre), something semi-soft (for example, Vendéen Bichonne or Ardrahan) and something on the firmer side (Comté, Calcagno or a Boerenkaas).
When putting together cheese plates for our classes, we pair a condiment with each cheese flight.
Not only is it fun for folks to try new things together but the ‘whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ phenomenon certainly comes into play when pairing cheeses with condiments. Classic go-tos for cheeses are honey, jam and membrillo (quince paste). We also have a range of mostardas from Italy that provide a wonderfully spicy/fruity compliment to some of our stronger cheeses. The rule of thumb (as with wine pairings) is generally to match strength to strength. (more…)
Sulfur is a natural by-product of the wine making process and, as a result, there will always be around three to six parts per million (ppm) of naturally occurring sulfur in a wine. Today, wine makers often elect to add sulfur for a variety of reasons throughout the wine making process whether it be in the vineyard, in the wine room or in the cellar.
Why do wine makers add more sulfur? In the vineyard, sulfur can be used to combat pests and diseases. After harvest, it can be used to ensure a predictable fermentation or prolong the time before vinification by killing any yeasts or microbial life on the skins of the grapes. In the wine cellar, sulfur is commonly used to clean barrels and fermentation vats in preparation for harvest. It can be used in the cellar at the time of bottling (especially for export wines) to maintain a wine’s color and protect it from re-fermentation which produces a spritzy sensation on the palate.
How much sulfur are we talking about? In the European Union, the maximum sulfite level for certified biodynamic red wine is 60 ppm while the certified organic designation for red wine is limited to 90 ppm. White wines in both categories allow slightly higher levels. For conventional wines, the EU allows 160 ppm for red, 210 ppm for whites and rosés and 400 ppm for sweet wines. In the U.S., the limit is 350 ppm.
So, why does the level of sulfur matter? The common perception is that sulfites in wine (especially red wine) contribute to headaches. In fact, sulfites have been shown to affect a limited population of people (less than 1% of the population) with allergies to sulfites or asthmatic conditions. In addition, red wine tends to have the lowest level of sulfites amongst the wine styles. So, while many people do get headaches after drinking wine it appears unlikely that sulfites are the reason – or at least it’s unlikely they are the only reason. Even if sulfites are innocent in this regard, we find other good reasons to seek out wines that are lower in sulfites. (more…)
This is one of the most common questions that I get when I work on the cheese counter. My answer: yes, usually I do. Pretty much all cheese rinds are easily digestible. The primary exceptions are cloth-bound and wax rinds. After that, it’s pretty much personal preference.
A rule of thumb – cheeses tend to get stronger the closer you get to the rind and the rind itself will be the strongest tasting part of the cheese. If you are tasting a cheese for the first time and aren’t sure whether you will like it, start with a nibble from the center-most part of the ‘paste.’ Then, if you like what you are tasting, gradually work your way outwards. If you like all of the paste, give the rind a go!
Having eaten cheese for a while now, I know there are some rinds I definitely don’t like, rinds that most folks don’t eat: Parmigiano Reggiano is one example (grilled parm rinds are an exception!) and Comté is another, even though it has a natural rind. My stomach could digest them – I just don’t like the way they taste or feel in my mouth. That said, there are some cheeses I love that are particularly scrumptious, in my opinion, because they have delicious rinds. Among these, I would include Tomme Crayeuse, Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen Blue and Ardrahan.
They are all very different styles of cheese – Tomme Crayeuse is semi-soft cheese and has a very earthy, mushroom-y flavor profile, underscored by its natural rind.
Bayley Hazen is a medium-strength blue cheese that tastes really nutty – the rind is like a distilled version of this fantastic nuttiness. Ardrahan is an Irish, washed-rind cheese. Its rind is brine-washed and this saltiness shows through – sometimes enough to
make me think of the ocean while sometimes it manifests itself in more of a peanut-y flavor. Either way, it is really snackable (oh, and great with beer!).
My advice – give the rind a try! If you don’t like it, you’ll know for next time. On the other hand, you may just discover another reason to love a cheese!