Education

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

What’s in a name? For cheese, a lot!

You can't steal Stilton's thunder - it's protected.

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.”

Filed in: Cheeses, Education

What the Heck is a Quince?

Still life of a Quince, before and after.

Still life of a Quince, before and after.

Our good friend the Quince might be a stranger to most of you. Usually, the only time we see one is after it’s been cooked to death, mixed with a ton of sugar, and allowed to solidify into a firm, slice-able paste. Creatively enough, this paste is called “Quince Paste”, or in much-prettier Spanish, “Membrillo” (mem-BREE-oh), and is one of the uber-traditional accompaniments for cheese.

The Quince is almost never seen in public in its original form (much like Cher), so imagine my delight when I visited the Grand Mart and saw a huge pile ‘o Quince (Quinces?) just waiting to be snatched up. I literally jumped up and down, clapping.

Once we got home, my daughter was eager to taste it (after all, Mommy leaped for joy). First, she could hardly get her teeth into it. Then, she looked at me, all puckery, like, “Mom,  I hate to disappoint you, but…” So of course I had to try it for myself. Although our Quince looked and felt much like a large yellow apple, biting into it revealed an unyielding, chewy interior and a muted yet sour flavor. Frankly, it tasted kind of icky.

So, how do I sum up the experience? It would be sort of like meeting Richard Simmons and finding out that he’s really rude. Kind of a let-down. So, dear Quince, I enjoyed our little rendezvous, but next time we meet, you’ll be in paste form.

~ Like what you’re reading? There’s more where that came from! Like us on Facebook and see new posts hot off the presses. ~

Crossing the DC Border for Good Liquor

Outside Schneider's of Capitol Hill. A great experience awaits within.

Outside Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. A great experience awaits within.

In preparation for an upcoming Tequila/Mezcal appreciation party, we needed to get our hands on some major Tequila – and we needed assistance is setting up a respectable Tequila buffet. I searched online for the best liquor store in DC and up popped Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Easy!

The first thing you notice about Schneider’s is that it is small. Like REALLY small. And REALLY full of every liquor you could imagine. We were immediately greeted by Terry, who foolishly asked, “can I help you find something?” Well, 30 minutes later, poor Terry was still helping us. Not because he didn’t know anything, but because he knew everything about everything. He was a Tequila expert. He was a Lillet expert. He was an Absinthe expert. He was a Scotch expert. He helped me pick my new favorite Gin (Green Hat – from DC!), which made the perfect martini last night, and a new Vodka that he said would knock my socks off.

Let me put it this way – we went in for Tequila and walked out with a massive box of everything. A box that someone carried out and placed in our trunk! And we walked out with the most valuable thing of all… the memory of a GREAT experience.

Sadly, the whole time I was in Schneider’s, all I could think about was that it is impossible to have this kind of quality experience in Virginia. Simply walking into a state-run liquor store here is depressing. Trying to get any information is futile (unless you want “the Tequilas are over there” type of guidance). Schneider’s provides superior education and unique products so customers can’t imagine going anywhere else – and DC allows them to do that.

So, to sum up, Schneider’s = awesome experience.  Next time we need to stock up, this is where we’ll go. Oh – and state-run monopolies are bad.

Is that a salami in your pocket? A cheese & meat love story.

Hunka-hunka-yummy salami from Creminelli Fine Meats.

Hunka-hunka-yummy salami from Creminelli Fine Meats.

Cheese and salami are two of my favorite foods, not only because they are both fatty and delicious, but because even though one is made from milk and the other meat, their origins, preparation, components, and variety are amazingly similar.

1. Origins: Cheese and salami were born out of a need to preserve highly perishable ingredients so people didn’t starve to death in the winter. Let me repeat: SO PEOPLE DIDN’T STARVE TO DEATH IN THE WINTER. How hard-core is that?

2. Preparation: Both are prepared by manipulating raw ingredients, adding salt, and storing in precise conditions for long periods of time. Both become more interesting as they age, developing complex flavors and supple textures. The true miracle of aging, though, is that the product is preserved (and improved) over weeks or months without rotting. (Because rotten food = starve to death in the winter, kapish?)

3. Components: Cheese and salami both rely on their skins to survive. Cheese skin is called a “rind” and salami skin is called a “casing”. The rind/casing protects the cheese/salami from drying out or getting unwanted stuff in it. Salami casing is often a section of animal intestine, but can also be synthetic. Happily for all of you vegetarians out there, the rind of a cheese is never an intestine (it’s usually just more cheese). Rinds and casings are almost always edible, but some choose to remove them before eating (whimps).

4. Variety: The multiple steps involved in preparing and aging cheese and salami can vary in myriad ways, resulting in thousands of different salamis from all over the world mainly from the same basic ingredients. Most are pork, but you will also find duck salami, venison salami, and even wild boar salami (tusks not included).

Cool Salami Fact #1: Along with Prosciutto and other hams, salami is a member of the “cured meat” family. Just like your relatives, the cured meat family is full of different personalities. Unlike your relatives, however, cured meats are always fun to be around… and they never ask to borrow money.

Cool Salami Fact #2: As you can see in our sexy centerfold photo, salami comes in all shapes and sizes. It is best served sliced (thick or thin) and you can dab on a bit of mustard if you like.

Cool Salami Fact #3: The fine white powder on the outside of salami’s casing is mold. Yes, mold. Get over it.

So, now that the lesson is over, go forth and indulge in two of the most miraculous foods on earth. I personally guarantee that you won’t starve to death in the winter.

~ Like what you’re reading? There’s more where that came from! Like us on Facebook and see new posts hot off the presses. ~