Monday, October 31, 2011


Stilton can be traced back to the early 1700's to the town of Stilton just north of London. Using methods little changed since the 17th Century, Stilton is quintessentially English, has its own Certification Trade Mark and is an EU Protected Name. This means that it can only be produced in the three Counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. It must be made from locally produced dairies, always formed into a cylindrical shape and never pressed. 

Developing a golden crust and marbled blue interior this cheese makes a striking addition to any cheese plate. Classic Blue Stilton has a rich tangy flavour, and a velvety-soft texture that makes it melt in your mouth. With a creamy background and open texture it melts and crumbles easily and is one of the few cheeses that freezes well for grating. Because Stilton is not pressed, the cheese remains crumbly and flaky, ideal for salads, pastas, and pizza. Pairs well with Port, Dry sherry, Claret, walnuts, honey, and pears.

There are only five Producers of Stilton

Cropwell Bishop Creamery is a small independent family run business with origins dating back to 1847. Based on the border of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire they hand pick the best milk suppliers in the region: small, family-run farms whose expertise, has been passed down through generations.

Colston Basset Dairy, a rural village in the heart of the English countryside has a highly skilled and dedicated team. Every day they take local cows milk from the same pastures and farms that founded the dairy as a co-operative in 1913.

Websters, nestled in the idyllic hamlet of Saxelbye, Leicestershire is a row of 17th century cottages that's home to Websters. Most of their fantastic staff have been Stilton cheese makers all their working lives. The ingredients are the best available. They know exactly where the milk comes from because you can see the cows from the front door!

Long Clawson Dairy was founded in 1911 when 12 farmers from the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, formed a co-operative to produce Stilton Cheese in the village of Long Clawson.

Tuxford & Tebbutt Creamery. Dates back to 1780, and is located in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.


History of Stilton Cheese Video

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


What we in this country know simply as, "Gorgonzola," is more formally called "Stracchino di Gorgonzola" in Italy. "Stracchio," which comes from the Italian word for tired (stracca), illustrates the process of the "tired" cows being milked in the course of their long autumn and spring walks to and from seasonal pastures. The herds would stop for a rest in the Lombardy town of Gorgonzola, resulting in Gorgonzola being flush with milk twice a year, the excess was used to make cheese. Today, Italian law and tradition dictates that Gorgonzola can only be made in either Lombardy or Piedmonte.

Gorgonzola Dolce is moister, softer, and creamier than its older sister, Gorgonzola Piccante. Having been washed repeatedly with a brine during its three months of cave-aging, Gorgonzola Dolce develops an aromatic buttery yellow paste shot with greenish mold. This blue cow's milk cheese is rich and spicy with fresh notes of grass in the swallow. This is a D.O.P. cheese.

Gorgonzola Piccante (also called naturale, di monte, or stagionato) is firmer and drier than its younger sibling, Gorgonzola Dolce. Having been washed repeatedly with a brine during its year or more of cave-aging, Gorgonzola Piccante develops a powerful aroma and a sticky rind. Compared to the Dolce, which has a yellowy paste that is shot with greenish mold, this cheese tends more toward the ivory with bluer striations. Spicy and earthy, Piccante is the more aggressive and sharp of the two Gorgonzolas. This is aslo a D.O.P. cheese.

Bleu d'Auvergne

Bleu d'Auvergne is a French blue cheese, named for its place of origin in the Auvergne Region of south-central France. It is made from cow's milk, and is one of the cheeses granted the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée from the French government.

Its sticky rind conceals a soft moist paste possessing a sweet, grassy, herbaceous, and (with age) spicy, pungent taste.  Creamy with a more buttery taste, iis less salted than most blues. Bleu d'Auvergne pairs best with dessert wines such as Sauternes or riesling and sauvignon blanc. Strong, robust red wines are commonly recommended to accompany it as well as rich, dark beer such as English barleywine or American porter, which have both the sweetness and bold flavor required to balance the cheese.

Bleu d'Auvergne is of relatively recent origin, discovered in the mid-1850s by a French cheesemaker named Antoine Roussel. Roussel noted that the occurrence of blue molds on his curd resulted in an agreeable taste, and conducted experiments to determine how veins of such mold could be induced. After several failed tests, Roussel discovered that the application of rye bread mold created the veining, and that pricking the curd with a needle provided increased aeration. It allowed the mold to enter the curd and encouraged its growth. Subsequently, his discovery and techniques spread throughout the region.

Today, bleu d'Auvergne is prepared via mechanical needling processes. It is then aged for approximately four weeks in cool, wet cellars before distribution, a relatively short period for blue cheeses.


Piave is a cow's milk cheese made in the Piave River Valley, whose source is found at Mount Peralba in Val Visdende, in the northernmost part of the province of Veneto, Italy. The land surrounding the ancient river is integral to the character of the cheese: it is where the milk is collected, the curd cooked, and the cheese aged until hard.

Often likened to the king of Italian cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Piave is a deliciously nutty, pasteurized cow’s milk cheese with a concentrated sweet, crystalline paste full of tropical fruit flavor and slight almond bitterness. Aged for twelve months, Piave has a dense texture without holes that is straw-yellow in hue.
It is wonderful as a table cheese, shaved over a salad of bitter greens, or enjoyed with an aperitif. It pairs well with traditional Italian dishes such as risotto and polenta, and with richer white wines, such as Chardonnay, medium-weight reds, such as Merlot and some Zinfandels. It can also be paired with an amber ale.

Once fully aged, it becomes hard (making it well suited for grating), developing an intense, full-bodied flavor. Piave is sold in the US as a hard cheese (called Piave vecchio or stravecchio, meaning "old" or "extra-old") at which point its' taste resembles that of a young Parmigiano Reggiano. The red label is aged at least 1 year and call vecchio, the blue label is under 1 year old and softer.

Comte Fort des Rousses

Comte Fort des Rousses is made from the raw milk of red and white Montbeliarde cows in the Jura Mountains of France in Franche-Comte. This robust cow produce small quantities of high quality milk that cannot be carried for more than 25 km to be respectful of its integrity. The Comte Fort des Rousses is produced in small, cooperative dairies, known as "fruitières” that produce the cheese only in summer time. They mostly use the winter milk to produce Mont d'Or and Morbier. The rule of DOP restricts the farmer from using any sillage to feed their cows. 

Comte is the most popular DOP cheeses in France. Fan of this cheese have found more than 83 distinct flavors including apricot, chocolate, butter, cream, and grilled bread. Eighteen month old Comte evokes the flavors of mountain flowers, butterscotch and spice. It will pairs beautifully with a variety of wines from big reds to delicate whites to sweeter desert wines.

Pecorino Sardo

Pecorino Sardo was born out of the reworking of two different types of cheese, the caciotta and the semicotto. The two were joined to make a sweet, mature pecorino. Made exclusively with milk from the Sardinian sheep breed, which is known for its high milk production. The sheep are raised on the inland mountains of Sardinia, in an environment rich in herbs and flavors. 

Pecorino Sardo has been produced for centuries and various types have developed, including fresa, spiatatu, rossi fini, bianchi, and affumicati. The cheese is made with raw milk or milk heated with hot rocks – a primitive thermal milk treatment. Often the curd is heated until it is semi-cooked.


Modern Pecorino Sardo production is divided into two types, sweet and mature. Both use whole sheep’s milk inoculated with enzymes from veal rennet. The curd is broken into hazelnut-sized pieces to make the sweet type, and rice kernel-sized pieces for the more mature. The curds are then semi cooked, pressed, and salted. The sweet cheese is matured for 20 to 60 days, while the aged is kept for at least 120, at which point it can be smoked using natural methods.

Both are formed into small cylinders, 4 to 5 inches tall. The sweet type has a rind that is thin, smooth and straw-colored with a white paste, and sweet, slightly acidic flavor. The more mature has a smooth straw or brown-colored rind, and its' flavor is strong and almost spicy.

Both types of Pecorino Sardo can be served as part of a cheese plate, accompanied by vegetables and fruit, or grated over a number of dishes. 


Gruyere is one of the most famous Swiss cheeses. It is made from cow's milk and has a nutty, slightly sweet taste with complex musty and mushroomy notes. Wheels of Gruyere are aged in Zurich, for at least sixteen months, resulting in a slightly granular texture and a firm pâte. A true classic in the Swiss Alpage tradition, Gruyere is also delicious when used in a fondue. Pair this cheese with a Champagne, Syrah, or even Zinfandel.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Raclette de Franche Comte

Fairly firm in its natural state, this full-flavored and beefy French cow's milk cheese is from the mountainous Franche Comte region. Raclette has a semi-soft interior dotted with small holes and a rosy inedible rind. Eaten as a table cheese, Raclette has a smooth, creamy taste that is neither too salty nor sharp.

 A wonderful melting cheese, it is used to make a dish called "raclette," where the cheese is heated until bubbly and liquid and scraped over boiled or roasted potatoes. The name comes from the French verb "racler," which means "to scrape." Making the dish involves heating a chunk of cheese until the top softens enough to be scraped off and layered atop potatoes boiled in their skin, served with pickles and sliced meats.
Raclette was mentioned in medieval writings as a particularly nutritious meal consumed by peasants in mountainous Switzerland and France. It was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or "roasted cheese." Traditionally, the Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around the campfire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of some bread. 

Traditionally served with a white wine, such as Savoy or Fendant, though Riesling and Pinot Gris are also common. 


Morbier is an aromatic and surprisingly mild French cow's milk AOC cheese defined by the dark vein of vegetable ash streaking through its' middle. Today, the ash is purely decorative, a nod to the method by which Morbier was once produced in Franche-Comté. Traditionally, the evening's fresh curds were sprinkled with ash to prevent the formation of a rind overnight.  

The next morning, new curds were laid upon the thin layer of ash to finish off the wheel. The wheel was then washed and rubbed by hand, forming a rind to protect the rich, creamy interior and to create a delectably stinky aroma. Aged for at least 60 days, pleasantly confounds expectations. Contrary to its smell, Morbier has a mild taste and leaves a wonderful, nutty aftertaste. Morbier is excellent served with Gewürztraminer or Pinor Noir.

Seal Bay Triple Cream

King Island Dairy Seal Bay Triple Cream is a rich and creamy cheese made with King Island milk and enriched with cream. Covered in a bloom of white mould, Seal Bay Triple Cream continues to develop during maturation, enhancing the magnificent flavour. It has a creamy golden centre and a pleasingly rich and buttery flavour without any sharp or tart finish as in other triple creams. It is named after the bay where a plentiful supply of seals was found in the 1800s, shortly after the island's discovery.

King Island's maritime history reveals a story of shipwrecks and tragedies which have all played a key part in the island's culture.

The infamous Roaring Forties gales which even today bring westerly winds of 100km per hour are said to have caused more than 60 shipwrecks along the island's treacherous coastline during the 1800s. According to legend, straw mattresses containing dried grass seeds were swept ashore from French and English shipwrecks and germinated in the rich soils, creating lush pastures.

Discovered in 1791 to be the most geographically isolated island in Bass Strait and located on 40 degrees latitude between Tasmania and the Australian mainland, King Island to this day retains its pristine environment. The 110,000 wind-swept hectares are extremely fertile, enjoying moderate temperatures and year round rainfall, making it an ideal location to support the island's beef and dairying industries. More than 9,000 cows and 80,000 head of beef graze on some of the cleanest and greenest grass in the world and produce the best quality beef and most pure and sweet milk.

Asiago Fresco

One of the most popular Italian cheeses, Asiago is a name contolled cheese from the Veneto region in Northern Italy. Asiago fresco is the younger version of this cheese that is semi-soft in texture, and aged for only a few weeks. An excellent melting cheese to try on your next grilled cheese sandwich.

Complex and buttery, with a creamy texture and slightly sweet tang, the richness and healthful qualities come from the cow’s diet of diverse Alpine grasses. As a name protected, artisan product, Italy’s DOC (Controlled Origin Denomination) requires this cheese to be made from premium cow’s milk.

Named after the village in Northern Veneto where it was first created. This "centuries old" cheese was originally made with sheep's milk, but over the years producers have switched to cow's milk. The production area is strictly defined: starting from the meadows of the Po Valley and finishing in the Alpine pastures between the Asiago Plateau and the Trentino's highlands. 

The officially designated area where the milk is collected extends to four provinces in the north-east of Italy: the entire area of Vicenza and Trento and part of the provinces of Padua and Treviso. Asiago cheese is also entitled to the additional label “Product of the Mountains". 

Ossau Iraty

Ossau Iraty Pardou Arriou is a classic sheep's milk cheese made in the French Pyrénées in two neighboring provinces: the Ossau Valley in the Bearn and the wooded hills of Iraty in the French Basque country. Ossau Iraty is made with the milk of the Manech and Basco-Bearnaise ewes. While it complies with strict Appellation d'Origine Controlée (AOC) regulations, the shape of each wheel can vary from region to region. 

Ossau is aged for a minimum of ninety days until its paste has turned a luscious ivory; its fragrance is reminiscent of toasted hazelnuts, and its taste encapsulates the sweet, buttery flavors that a great sheep's milk cheese can deliver. This cheese pairs nicely with many wines, especially Sauvignon Blancs, a Madirans, or Merlots.

Tomme Brulee

A raw sheeps milk cheese produced at the foot of the Baigura Mountain. Tucked into the far southwestern corner of France, in the heart of the fertile French Basque Region, this cheese is formed into petite rounds.

Like other sheep’s milk cheeses from this area, Tomme Brulee is a nutty cheese with a smooth texture. During the last stage of affinage the cheese is scorched using a torch. This gives the rind an interesting burned look and offers a hint of smokiness. The flavor is smooth, oily, nutty, and roasty. The smoky flavors match perfectly with the nuttiness of the sheep’s milk. A rare find, it pairs well with a French Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fontina Val d'Aosta

The recipe for Fontina Val d'Aosta is rumored to have been revealed to the early inhabitants of the Val d'Aosta by a near-mythical man called Sarvadzo. He taught them to make this unpasteurized, full-fat cheese, matured in grottos for at least three months. Its taste reflects its origins in the high, Alpine slopes - it is actually an Italian cousin to the French Gruyère.

Fontina is dense, smooth and slightly elastic. The straw-colored interior with its small round holes has a delicate nuttiness with a hint of mild honey. When melted, as it frequently is, the flavor is earthy, woody, with a taste of mushrooms and a fresh acidity. It pairs exceedingly well with roast meats and truffles. This cheese also pairs well with a burly red wine - try a Barolo from Piemonte to the south, or a Zweigelt from Austria to the northeast.

Fontina is the primary ingredient of Italian fonduta and is a pristine table or dessert cheese. Fontina gained DOP status on June 12th 1996. The mark of this celebrated mountain cheese features the outline of the Matterhorn. Ripens in about three months. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Point Reyes Farmstead

Simply put, "Farmstead" means "from the Farm".

What makes Farmstead cheese so special? The French have a word for it... "Terroir". From the land. About the land. Of the land. The terroir of a farm has everything to do with the end product.

"Our cows eat local grasses all year long. The milk is consistent in our stable coastal climate. The salty, Pacific breezes help cure and age our cheese and we don't rely on milk from any other farm. This allows us the ability to guarantee consistent, supreme quality all year long."
- Bob Giacomini

Family History

The Giacomini commitment to producing superior quality, farmstead dairy products began over 100 years ago in the mountains of Italy. Today Bob Giacomini and his family continue the family tradition with their Point Reyes Original Blue and Toma cheeses.

Bob began milking cows on his Point Reyes dairy in 1959. Over the years, Bob and his wife Dean, together with their four daughters, Karen, Diana, Lynn and Jill, developed a shared vision of bringing an all-natural farmstead product directly from their ranch to the consumer's table. This dream was realized in August, 2000 when they founded Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company and produced the first vat of Original Blue™.

The company's mission is plain and simple: to produce the nation's premier brand of high-end, blue table cheese. 
"We chose to make blue cheese out of a two-fold love of food and cooking. As a family that shares a passion for all things "gourmet", blue cheese was a natural because of its versatility in the kitchen and its ability to stand alone as a table cheese." - Jill Giacomini Basch

Morning Milking

The cheese production begins with the morning milking at about 2:00 am. Around 4:00 a.m., the fluid milk is pumped directly into stainless steel vats in the cheese production facility adjacent to the milking barn, guaranteeing a freshness that can’t be duplicated. Several natural ingredients are added to the Grade A, raw milk: cultures for flavor and to increase acidity, enzymes in order for the curd to form, kosher salt for flavor and mold (penicillium roqueforti) to create the blue veins in the cheese. When the milk reaches a specific pH level and the curd feels right (a combination of science and art), the curd is cut, the whey is drained from the curds and the curds are hooped (poured) into forms to make the wheels.

The following day the cheese is removed from the forms and taken to a curing room for about 3 weeks. In the curing room the wheels are hand-salted, turned numerous times by hand and punched with stainless steel needles to introduce oxygen into the body of the cheese. The oxygen is needed to activate the mold and create the blue veins found in Original Blue. The last step is the aging room. Here the wheels are left for 5-6 months. During this long aging process the creamy texture and full-flavors develop. 

Point Reyes Original Blue

Like a chunk of marble, with threadlike veins of blue-gray mold in a chalk-white paste, Point Reyes Farmstead Original Blue is creamy with an elusive, salty flavor that is attributed to the coastal fog and briny breezes flushing around the pastureland. On the tongue, it is dense, moist and creamy with a pronounced buttermilk tang.

The cheese is aged for at least six months, giving it plenty of time to develop its sea-blue veins and deep, luscious flavor. The cheese has no rind. Just before shipping, it is wrapped in foil to protect it and keep it from drying out.

Point Reyes Toma

TOMA – a Classic Italian, cows’ milk cheese made by dairy farmers, now has a California cousin. Using milk produced on their 3rd generation dairy farm, from cows that graze on Certified–Organic pastures, the Giacomini family has created a truly unique farmstead table cheese. The buttery flavor and subtle, grassy – tang finish make Point Reyes Toma perfect for snacking or melting into your favorite dish.

Using round-edged Gouda-style molds for the cheese and a Gouda technique known as curd washing - draining whey from the fresh curds and replacing it with fresh water-which limits the acid development and yields a sweeter cheese.

After a two-day brining to season the cheese, the wheels start their aging process. They develop a thin, hard rind, and a smooth, creamy, semifirm to firm interior with a straw color and the seductive scent of warm butter. The texture is open, with many cracks and small eyes, and the finish is sweet and buttery, with a grassy-tangy finish.

Applications: Great as a stand-alone table cheese, for melting into pasta or risotto, in grilled cheese sandwiches and for grating on top of grilled vegetables, burgers or soups. Lagunitas Brewing Co.'s Hop Stoopid Ale, a highly hopped brew that is Toma's ideal companion.

Certified Kosher by the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of San Francisco. Toma is an Italian word for a cheese made on the farm that produced the milk.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Mimolette is an unusually beautiful cheese, spherical, with a rough moon-like surface and a bright orange interior. It resembles a cantaloupe when cut open.

Maturing the cheeses involves storing them in damp cellars. C
heese mites are intentionally introduced to add flavor by their action on the surface of the cheese, creating a pitted, outer crust that looks like a cratered, dusty cannonball. The bright, deep tangerine color of the cheese is due to the natural dye, annatto. 

Mimolette can be eaten young but is usually matured for a minimum of six months when it is called 'demi-vielle' (half old). With ageing it slowly hardens and dries and the colour changes from carrot to orange-brown. Mimolette is at its best after 18 months of maturing: the pate becomes hard and crumbly with a salty, subtle fruity aroma and a mellow nutty taste. 

If you are not into cheeses, it might be hard to look past the cheese mites but you must remember, this style of cheese has survived for hundreds of years.

This cheese is also known under the name of Boule de Lille. The reason being is that the cheeses were originally matured in cellars located in the town of Lille, in the Northern French region of Picardy.