The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board hosted two Venissimo mongers, Vanessa and Flo, on a tour of Wisconsin creameries, from the very small Uplands Cheese, to the very large Emmi. We learned that maple syrup spooned over Carr Valley's Bread Cheese is to die for. And one of the most important things we learned: you can't carry on Widmer's Brick Spread on an airplane!
Janet Fletcher is not only a cheese lover, but an author of 30 food-related books and writer of the weekly blog Planet Cheese. We spoke to her from her home in Napa, California, where we learned that young Cabernet Sauvignon is her favorite wine to go with her favorite cheeses, which are aged sheep. Since spending a college semester in France, she has dedicated her life to learning and writing about farm fresh foods and champion cheeses.
Rachel Dutton is Assistant Professor at UCSD Biological Sciences and the country's leading expert in cheese microbiology. Her focus has always been on communities of organisms that populate cheese and make it great. Learn all about the molds, mites and fungus that live among us. Discover that good bacteria are what change plain "milk jello" into something that has aroma, texture and flavor. You can also learn more on her website at www.theduttonlab.com. While all this may sound frightening, it's actually the fascinating miracle of nature.
Queso Diego is San Diego's club for turophiles (aka, cheese lovers). Whether you are an avid cheese maker or simply a cheese lover, the club has monthly events, educational opportunities and tastings to share ideas and enjoy comaraderie. Incoming president and lover of all things fermented, Curt Wittenberg, said there is even a Library of Cheese Making to help members learn to make cheese without having to spend a lot of money.
Will Gustwiller is the founder and head candyman of Eclipse Chocolat, a company that not only hand-makes truffles and bars and other such treats, but also operates a restaurant that features a menu full of artistic dishes, all of which include something sweet (naturally). One favorite pairing is Kokos coconut gouda with dark chocolate, which is reminiscent of Almond Joy candy. He often uses fresh chevre instead of cream and believes that the order of eating is the key to any successful pairing. Tune in to learn more about this artist turned maker.
Cypress Grove is the company behind the magical Humboldt Fog cheese, arguably America's most well-known and beloved artisinal cheese. And did you know that it's made almost completely by hand (check out this video when I visited on my Vespa tour)? Bob McCall, the creamery's Trade Development Director, joined us to share the story of founder Mary Keehn and her exquisite line of cheeses. In this episode, you'll learn which cheeses make the best wedding cakes, which one pairs best with Coca-Cola and what you get when you combine a lamb with a chopper.
Zach is a Certified Cicerone and curator at Pariah Brewing Company. Pariah means "outcast," and some of the beers he mention certainly seem out there, like one made with uni (yes, the sushi kind). In a city bursting with IPAs, it's fun to find brews that include flavors of ginger, lemongrass, molasses, cocoa nibs, white pepper and even wine grapes. A couple of suggested pairings include funk-with-funk (think yeasty Belgian style with a washed rind cheese). San Diegans can partake in a 5x5 pairing event on Monday, October 9. Others will have to visit Ian at our North Park shop to enjoy his favorites. And again, we asked, is it a requirement for men in the beer biz to sport beards?
Caroline Hostettler founded Quality Cheese 20 years ago so that she could introduce Americans to the finest alpkase from her homeland of Switzerland (and satisfy her craving at the same time). Then in 2013, she introduced the Adopt-An-Alp program, an idea to help alp farmers continue their tradition of transhumance, the seasonal moving of humans and animals in accordance with the seasons. Cheeses from the Swiss alps are like none other on the planet. When you understand the richness of the 150 grasses, herbs and flowers that are part of the cows' diet, you'll appreciate the end result in the alpkase. Venissimo has taken an east-to-west approach in selecting cheeses from its adopted alp and will be introducing five new varieties in October. If you're a cheese lover, we encourage you to talk to your local cheese shop and ask them to adopt an alp too.
Champion cheese monger Jessica and her monger-in-crime Claire discuss both the scientific and aesthetic beauty of cheese crystals, those mysterious creations that give a cheese crunch. Discover the difference between calcium lactate crystals versus tyrosine crystals. Get your geek on.
"Podcasting opens a window into the soul of a creator."
Gina Freize is the founder and Cheese Wiz of Venissimo Cheese and host of Noon on Tuesday, a weekly podcast all about cheese, all the time.