Issue No. 2
by Christopher Thompson
Blue Ridge Dairy is well known among cheese and yogurt lovers in the Mid Atlantic States (well, DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia, anyway). Their staple and reason for existing (as is explained below) is fresh mozzarella, although about half of their revenues are from yogurt. Blue Ridge Dairy smoked mozzarella shows up in various local “best of ” ratings, and many yogurt lovers in this region, this author included, have a hard time eating anyone else’s yogurt. BRD’s products are sold in 8 regional farmers’ markets and at a few area Whole Foods and Cowgirl Creamery. Cheese Enthusiast visited the Blue Ridge Dairy cheese plant in Leesburg, Virginia, in late November of this year. We interviewed owner Paul Stephan and had a look around his small facility, densely packed with equipment. Most of what is in this article is from that interview.
Coming in Out of the Cold
by Susan Marquis
It was a dark and stormy night … or at least it was turning into one as I walked downtown to Greenwich Village from West 44th Street. Seemed like a good idea when I set out. I love to walk in New York City. Then the rain started. Just a drizzle but soon we moved into a full downpour. And, given it was November, the dark was coming fast, as were the blocks: 34th, 21st, 10th street…into the Village, past the West 4th Street subway stop and the basketball courts, Carmine Street, and finally onto Bleecker. And then, the light through the window and the big, bold, red script – “Murray’s Cheese” – signaled the way. I opened the door and was there. Murray’s Cheese was bright, loud, crowded, warm, and welcoming. An enormous glass case filled with the wonders of the cheese world and a guy shouting out to me, “Help ya wit sumpn?” Display cases in the middle of the store were filled with olive oil, honey, wrapped cheese, crackers, and nuts. There were glass-walled rooms upstairs overlooking the store and steps down into some sort of basement world. But the focal point of the store was the glass case starting up front with salumi and quickly being taken over by hundreds of cheeses running the length of the store. There are wheels of cheese on shelves behind the case and cheeses hanging from the ceiling. In case you missed the point of this display, the wall above and behind the case is declares: DELICATE; crumbly; Decadent; pervasive; Subtle; Lingering; FARMSTEAD; Toasty; AGED….
Who: The Gervais Sisters: Susan, Anne, and Annette
Where: Out of the farmhouse kitchen in Bakersfield or in Susan’s kitchen in the village of Enosburg Falls,Vermont
Cheesemaking and City Goats
by Merryl Winstein
“You may only keep dogs, cats fish and birds in our city!” snapped our City Hall “answer person.” “I’ve already told you twice this year!”
“Yes, but…umm…isn’t there some kind of written thing I could read?” I was new to home ownership. I’d never heard of an “ordinance” before.
“Yes” she agreed abruptly, adding, “I’ll send it to you.” And there I read: “Domestic Animals & Fowl…No person shall keep chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, turkeys or rabbits in this city unless…” Unless what? “…they shall apply to the city council for a permit…”
“There’s my ticket” I exclaimed. I followed the directions, and after hundreds of hours of work, the final vote granted me the permit!
Cheesemaking: A D.I.Y. Manual. A Guide to Making Wonderful Cheeses at Home Matilde Calandrelli and Donato Nicastro
Reviewer: Susan Marquis
This little book is a release we should cherish. Published by Caseus, the providers of the highly technical cheesemaking magazine by the same name, Cheesemaking: A D.I.Y. Manual was originally published in Italian under the name, Formaggio—Fai da Te. The Italian version has been through four editions and is much beloved in Italy. The translation into English was done Michelina (Miki) Ciman, a recognized Italian cheesemaker and chef in South Africa, and just published in July 2008.
Do Try This at Home
by Susan Marquis
Now that you’ve read about Paul Stephan’s great success at Blue Ridge Dairy with mozzarella and ricotta, and the Cheese Enthusiast review of Cheesemaking: A D.I.Y. Manual, with its description of regional and traditional Italian cheeses, it’s time to try making some of these fresh cheeses at home.
by Susan Marquis
With the current era of fiscal frugality, Cheese Enthusiast has gained even greater enthusiasm for homemade gifts. We have an American-style blue cheese and a Tomme de Savoie in our cheese cave/cooler but wanted something more to offer. Unlike CE’s multi-talented layout artist, Kathy Myers, we don’t have fruit trees for making fruit wines. Nor are our baking talents of any significant note. What cheesemaking has encouraged is our appreciation for “chemistry experiments.” Given this, making our own “digestivi,” or after-dinner liquors, has become this winter’s entertainment. Throughout the late fall we made wine-based and grain alcohol-based concoctions, varying widely in strength and sweetness. CE actually prefers digestivi with a bit of bitterness and complexity but it is hard to argue with the brightness of limoncello, particularly on a dark and cold winter’s eve. As a word of caution, these drinks are quite strong and should be enjoyed after dinner and in small amounts. As with everything else in Cheese Enthusiast, readers try and consume these recipes at their own risk!
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