A wise man recently told me that there is a difference between being thankful and being joyful. In fact, sometimes the pressure to be deeply and adequately “thankful” makes us feel worse instead of better. After further thought, I agreed that we need an extra ingredient to transform genuine gratitude into pure joy… and that is reflection (something most of us have precious few moments of during the day).
This Thanksgiving, I hope each of you finds the time to invite thankfulness, reflection, and joy into your home. At least until your relatives arrive.
Got questions about how special dietary needs might affect your love of cheese? You’re not alone. Here’s some info to put your mind (and tummy) at ease.
Some particularly sensitive gluten avoiders have asked if blue cheese, sometimes made with mold grown on bread, is safe. The answer is yes. The gluten detected in blue cheeses that use grain to grow their mold is so low as to be undetectable. One type of cheese to avoid, however, is anything washed in or containing beer (example: Guinness Cheddar).
Most folks are ok with traditional rennet, which is derived from the stomach lining of animals (remember – no animal is ever sacrificed only for rennet). However, some choose to stick with “vegetarian” cheeses, which use plant-based or synthetic rennet to coagulate the milk. In actuality, most cheeses are vegetarian, as using animal rennet is much more troublesome. Just ask your cheesemonger to point you in the right direction.
Cheese is made from milk. All milk has lactose. The good news is that almost all lactose is washed away in the cheese-making process so very little ends up in cheese. Then, as the cheese ages, any remaining lactose breaks down very quickly. If you are severely lactose intolerant, focus on hard-aged cheeses. If those still bother you, perhaps you are cow’s milk intolerant, not lactose intolerant.
In the market for a new cow? Take a moment to review the most noteworthy breeds (in my humble opinion). Consider it a crash course in bovine beauty. Read them all, then vote for your favorite on our Facebook page!
The old standby. Major milk production, fashionable black and white pattern. If all else fails, go Holstein.
If you love the look of the Holstein, but brown is more your color, go Ayrshire. Added bonus: you can occupy yourself with the question of whether she’s brown with white splotches or white with brown splotches.
Not really a breed, but more of a technique. Tame cow + mucho styling product = Fluffy Cow! I swear, this one is actually named “Texas Tornado.” If he were mine, I would name him Fluffernutter.
Epitomizes the whole “black is slimming; white is not” philosophy. This gentleman is clearly trying to accentuate his midline and I think he succeeds beautifully.
Again, if you have more brown in your wardrobe, you might want to go in this direction. Same tummy emphasis, more neutral palette.
Ever wonder where chocolate milk comes from? Look no further!
This poor guy is like, “Will somebody PLEASE get me a scrunchy?” Not quite sure what the thinking was when creating this one. Maybe, “Hey – let’s create a massive animal without much natural agility, then REALLY up the ante by significantly limiting its vision… and see what happens!”
Now that you’ve seen them all, vote for your favorite on our Facebook page!
Almost always strong in aroma and flavor, blue cheeses are salty by nature and can pack a serious punch. One of the many things I love about blue cheese, though, has nothing to do with its flavor.
Cheese is truly alive, each delectable piece chock-full of healthy bacteria and/or mold. This is why cheese should never be stored in tight plastic wrap – it will literally suffocate. Nowhere is this more apparent than within blue cheese, which is filled with the very mold that grows on bread. Living happily within the cheese, it bides its time until it is exposed air. Then… BOOM!
Cutting into a new wheel of blue cheese is one of the surest ways to watch cheese life in motion. On the left is a wheel immediately after being cut in half. Notice the presence of the “veins” of mold, but also notice that they are more yellowy-green than blue. BUT, mere minutes later, after they have taken some nice deep breaths, those same veins have exploded in color, giving blue cheese the name it so rightly deserves.
So, the next time you need a reminder that (good) food is life, grab a hunk-o-blue and dig in!
Tons of cheeses have really weird names, many of which are in other languages. This leads to lots of very fine people completely butchering the pronunciations. One of the unspoken talents of every cheesemonger is the ability to understand which cheese someone is requesting. Without giggling.
Here is a list of some of our favorite (and most common) mispronunciations from the cheese counter. I recommend reading it aloud to get the full effect.
10. Manchego [mahn-CHAY-go] –> “muh-CHANG-oh”
9. Tete de Moines [tet-deh-mwah] –>”titty-moan”
8. d’Affinois [DAFF-in-WAH] –> “daffi-noise”
7. Ewe’s Blue [yooz-bloo] –> “ooey-bloo”
6. Belletoile [bell-eh-twahl] –> “belly-toil”
5. Camembert [CAM-um-BEHR] –> “CAM-um-BURT”
4. Morbier [mor-bee-YAY] –> “more-BEER”
3. Livarot [leev-ah-ro] –> “live-ROT”
2. Asiago [ah-see-AH-go] –> “ah-SA-gio”
1. Gjetost [YAY-tost]–> “G… J… uh nevermind”
You can’t steal Stilton’s thunder – it’s protected.
The appearance, aroma, flavor, and texture of a cheese reflect its ingredients, place of origin, and preparation techniques. So it should come as no surprise that producers take the cheese’s identity very seriously. Some were lucky (or smart) enough to have been name-protected, which is much like a trademark here in the United States. In these cases, a cheese has to be produced in a specific way – and in a specific place – in order to be named a certain way. This is why you will never find Roquefort made anywhere in the world other than the caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, France. Other famous examples of name-protected cheeses are Camembert, Stilton, Manchego, and Gorgonzola.
Some über-famous cheeses, however, did not get the memo about the importance of protecting their names. This is why anyone… anywhere… can make Cheddar or Gouda. In these cases, the name doesn’t indicate anything other than basic flavor characteristics that one can expect from the cheese.
In the world of cheese, a name can mean everything. So, don’t be fooled by wanna-be “Parmesan” – it’s NOT the same as true “Parmigiano Reggiano.”
Welcome to the Top 10 List of Cheese Accompaniments. Some of these will be familiar, but we also threw in a few that you might not think of.
10. A fresh, crusty baguette: Fresh is the key here. If it was baked yesterday, it’s not fresh.
9. A mustache: Honestly, mustaches are everywhere these days. Why not on your cheese?
8. Fresh figs: ‘Tis the season for these lovely jewels to be flooding the market. If you really want to work the theme, also acquire some fig leaves and host your party dressed as Adam and Eve. It’s a win/win.
7. Brad Pitt: Because the only thing better than eating cheese is eating cheese with Brad Pitt, obviously.
6. Quince paste: Classic. European. A transformative experience.
5. Raisin walnut bread: Sweet and crunchy. Every creamy cheese has a poster of raisin walnut bread on its wall, a la David Cassidy.
4. Cornichons: Little tiny pickles which are not only delightfully sour, but totally adorable. An added benefit: your male guests will have fun trading tiny-pickle-related insults, if you catch my drift.
3. Honey: Not just because it’s sweet, but because the way it’s made is kinda gross, just like cheese.
2. A nice, energetic cicada: Gives you that intense crunch and a “wiggly quality” that most jams just can’t achieve. Plus, they’re local.
1. Nothing at all: Cheese needs no adornment in order to be the world’s perfect food, right?????
Dear Alexandria Garbage Men,
I just want to send out a blanket thank-you to the fine crews who pick up our trash and recycling on a weekly basis. Specifically:
1. Thank you for picking up all of the random stuff I leave outside. You know those “amnesty days” like twice a year when you can put anything out on the curb and they’ll take it away for you? Well, in my house, every day feels like amnesty day. And they have never – NOT ONCE – left anything on my curb. I’m pretty sure I could leave an old rusty car out there and they’d hoist it into that truck of theirs.
2. Thank you for being nice to my kids, who are still at the age where they think that garbage trucks are the coolest vehicles on the road. When they hear the tell-tale “BEEEEEP BEEEEEP” of the truck backing down our street, they run outside to greet it. I’m always a little embarrassed because these guys are working really hard in the (stinky) heat or freezing cold and the last thing they want is some kid running up to them. But EVERY TIME, they stop, smile, and wave. In fact, they just pulled up outside my house and took a moment to look up and make sure they didn’t miss waving to us. Seriously.
3. Thank you to the people in your office. Once, when my little street was missed on pickup day, I called and they actually sent the truck back out. I almost cried.
4. Thank you for always returning my cans in an orderly fashion. It sounds small, but you are pretty much the only people in my life who leave things nicer than they found them.
So, here’s to you, Garbage Men. Thanks for making Alexandria look so pretty. And I promise – no rusty cars.
The Lady with All the Trash
Welcome to our inaugural Top 10 List! I thought I was starting with an easy one, but the loving cheesiness could not be contained and it took forever to pare down the original list. I dare you not to sing along…
10. Total Eclipse of the Challerhocker – Bonnie Tyler
9. Morbier Than a Feeling – Boston
8. I’ll Brie there for You – Bon Jovi
7. You’re the First, the Last, My Emmenthaler – Barry White
6. Raclette’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
5. Because you loved Mimolette – Celine Dion
4. I Just Called to Valencay I Love You – Stevie Wonder
3. You Give Gouda Love – Whitney Houston
2. Nights in White Stilton – Moody Blues
1. When a Manchego Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge
Honorable Mention has to go to “Melt With You” by Modern English, because even without altering the title, it’s cheese-tastic!
[List created by Jill Erber, Cheese Lady - Cheesetique]
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