Our Cheeselog

To Bee or… TO BEE!

My husband, Jeff, and I never wanted pets. Ever. And so our story begins…

One day, Jeff discovered on a great local site called DIY Del Ray these really cool under-counter worm-assisted composters. It’s a whole “circle of life” thing – we eat food, we share the food with the worms, the worms make nice fertilizer for our plants. It seemed simple enough. What I didn’t realize is that the composter people are also beekeepers. And they like to teach others how to be beekeepers.

It was not long before Jeff proposed the bees. My first response was something really poetic like, “HELL no!” After months of mentioning it – and promising that I wouldn’t have to work and could still reap the honey, he won. The gears were put in motion with AzureB and before we knew it, our bee delivery was scheduled. Jeff casually asked me one day, “Hey – do you have any idea how many bees will be in each hive?” My response: “About a hundred?” His (laughing) response: “About a fifty THOUSAND.” Per hive. And we were getting two.

Our first delivery date was postponed because the weather had been cold and rainy – apparently, that makes the bees “ornery,” according to the bee whisperer, Stefano. And even I know that the last thing you want is ornery bees.

On a Tuesday afternoon, Stefano arrived to set up our beautiful hives, which he had built and seasoned himself. Honestly, they were really pretty even without the bees. But then he brought them in… two bountiful boxes of buzzing beauties. The first step was to check that the queen was content – she seemed pretty cool to me, especially since she came equipped with her own attendants in a little “queen cage.” The next step is what I like to call, “pour the bees into the hive” because he literally turned the boxes over and poured the bees like molasses into the hives. It was the single coolest thing I have seen in a very long time. At this point, the bees were really buzzing. We all stood around, utterly fascinated, and watched as they swarmed around harmlessly and settled in. In the days since, the activity level is impressive, but I doubt we will ever see that same surge again. You can read the step-by-step process on DIY Del Ray, where Leslie captured the experience so beautifully with words and photos.

Now that we’re all acquainted, every day we say good morning to the bees as they leave on their rounds. Every evening, we check in again as they begin to settle down. Often, I find that I sneak out there just to sit and listen. We haven’t gotten honey yet (it’ll be over a year) but our little colonies seem to be thriving.

So I guess we now have LOTS of pets. And they’re either slimy or they sting. Oddly, this makes complete sense. And at least I don’t have to walk them, right?

Our two hives on the day they arrived.

Our two hives on the day they arrived. In front of each are the bees’ travel boxes.

Filed in: Blogging

Del Ray Opening Sunday Nights!

Yes, you’re reading that correctly. After nearly 10 years, Cheesetique Del Ray will now be open until 10 pm on Sunday nights. Need a late-Sunday cheese fix? Look no further!!!

Filed in: Events, News

Marcheese Madness is On!!!

 

 

Marcheese

 

 

Do you:
a) Love cheese?
b) Love competition?
c) Love helping children and families in need?

Then OH BOY do we have the event for you!

Cheesetique is once again hosting the most exciting (and delicious) cheese competition IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. And this year, you too can have skin in the game (so to speak). Read on to see how…

How It Works:
We have selected 32 of our top cheeses for an epic taste-off!  These are the cream of the crop, with a couple underdogs thrown in (because who doesn’t love an underdog?)  Every day, two cheeses go head-to-head in each Cheesetique location, with the day’s victor chosen by YOUR VOTE. Yes, that means you can taste these cheeses and vote every day! Winners from each day advance through the rounds until the leaders from each location compete for the 2014 Marcheese Madness championship!

How You Participate:
Purchase a bracket between March 15th and March 21st for $5.00 and fill it out with your picks. The person from each location with the most correctly filled out bracket wins the PRIZE (see below).

And hey – even if you don’t purchase a bracket, come in every day to cast your vote for that day’s match up! Then, watch the results on our Facebook pages (make sure to follow both Shirlington and Del Ray to see all results).

How You Help Others:
100% of proceeds from bracket sales will go to SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now), a Northern Virginia-based charity with whom we have worked for nearly ten years. On top of that, Cheesetique will also match 50% of the final total and donate it to SCAN.

The Prize:
The person with the most correctly filled out bracket from each Cheesetique location will receive a Cheese Lover’s Gift Bucket valued at $200, filled with everything any Cheesetique-loving person would want. Winners will be announced on Monday, April 7th.

Please join us in making Marcheese Madness 2014 spectacular! And help a VERY worthy cause.

Happy Bracketing, Cheese Lovers!
Jill Erber
Proprietor/Cheese Lady

Filed in: Events

Cheesetique is CLOSED today

NewsFlashGood morning! I’m sorry to report that due to the huge amount of white fluffy stuff falling from the sky, Cheesetique will be closed today. Stay safe and warm.

See you all tomorrow!

 

Filed in: Blogging, News

Three ways to make cheese your true love

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that this Friday is Valentine’s Day, which I tend to group with other “pressure holidays” like New Year’s Eve. What I mean is that there is so much pressure to have a special experience that we work ourselves into a frenzy and ruin the whole thing. Sound familiar? If so, then we have the ultimate solution.

And of course, the ultimate solution is… cheese. Simply choose your scenario below and take our advice. Whatever you choose to do, may it be wonderful and full of love. Or not (see #3).

1. You didn’t plan and now you’re afraid that nowhere has reservations left. 
The great news is that Cheesetique doesn’t require reservations (on Valentine’s Day or any other day). To top it off, we’re offering a special “Treats for Two” Valentine’s menu: two glasses of wine, a yummy Select-4 cheese board, and chocolate cheesecake… all for $35. Cheesetique is always considered to be the perfect date spot, but on Valentine’s Day it’s a no-brainer.

treatsfor2

2. You like Valentine’s Day, but you just want to stay in.
Cheese is uber-romantic; it’s even classified as an aphrodisiac, with 10 times as much ooh-la-la as chocolate. Take that already-romantic substance, put it in the shape of a heart and… well, I’ll just leave it at that. We have many lovely selections, but here are a few mouth-watering examples. Simply pair with a lovey-dovey wine and you’re all set.

heartcheeses

3. You have no interest in celebrating Valentine’s Day in any way, shape, or form.
If that’s the case, then the possibilities are endless! Eat from our regular menu in the Cheese & Wine Bar. Or take home a bunch of cheeses that look NOTHING like hearts. Drink wine called “Death to Love-Themed Holidays.” Deface photos of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.* You get the idea.

bradangelina

* No celebrities or photos thereof were harmed in the making of this post.

Filed in: Blogging

On being thankful… and joyful

ThanksgivingCheeseA 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.

Filed in: Blogging

Gluten and Rennet and Lactose… Oh My!

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.

Gluten

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).

Rennet

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.

Lactose

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.

Filed in: Blogging

Judging a Cow by Its Cover: Vote for Your Favorite!

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!

 

Holstein.

The old standby. Major milk production, fashionable black and white pattern. If all else fails, go Holstein.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ayrshire.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fluffy.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belted Galloway.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch Belted.

Again, if you have more brown in your wardrobe, you might want to go in this direction. Same tummy emphasis, more neutral palette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jersey.

Ever wonder where chocolate milk comes from? Look no further!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highland.

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!

 

Filed in: Blogging, Education

Blue… Before and After

Blue Before and AfterAlmost 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!

Filed in: Blogging, Cheeses

Top 10 Most Mis-Pronounced Cheese Names

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”

Filed in: Top 10 Lists