Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Surprise of Cheese


One of the nicest things about going away is, of course, coming back. And among the most intriguing are those things you forget about, refuse to throw away, however uninteresting, and toss in a corner. I DO have my own corner for experiments now.
Well, after a week of eating unfathomably good food in the Loire Valley this past week, I started cooking goose a dozen ways for D'Artagnan (to be posted anon) and I spotted a little cheese I forgot about a couple of months ago, that just didn't taste that great.
Lo and behold, it matured beautifully. Nutty, with a nice tart bite. Not unlike Parmigiano at all. Fabulous in slivers, grated I'm sure will be great. It's a local milk, raw. And disproves my theory that you can't make decent cheese in very small batches. This was just two gallons. About 3/4 of which you see in my hand. Probably cost me more than $20 a pound, but it is really fine, and utterly local. Natural bacteria, no starters, conditioners or other crap. Voila. C'est le terroir.

17 comments:

lostpastremembered said...

CHeese??? You make cheese? That is so cool... but really 2 gallons to make one pound? No wonder the stuff costs a fortune. I have never thought of that kind of shrinkage being a factor in the cost... so next time I see that 26$ a pound local cheese I will know its a bargain.. glad you had a good trip and looking forward to your geese!

kryssie's daily photo said...

Did it develop little crystals like some of the aged Goudas? Don't you love the Loire Valley? Jacquie and I are going back as soon as the kids are out of college.

Glenn said...

I'd like to thank you, Maestro A...since coming across your blog and seeing your instant Central Californian Valley Cheese Cave (tm) referenced here, I just had to get one for my own cheese experiments. And lo, what with the insanity of Black Friday, and seeing that a few places about town were selling these Cheese Caves (Falsely advertised as "wine refrigerators") for reasonable prices...well, I now have the means to age cheeses and meats, and who knows what else, in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Wheeeee!

Will said...

Dude. You need a cow.

Juana Isabella/Donna said...

Ken it looks beautiful. I've gotten back on the cheese making kick lately. I hadn't done any since May, but in the last two weeks I've made two batches. This flurry of activity has much to do with my new source of milk from my friend's cow. I also do small, two gallon, batches.
Can't wait for the geese, yum yum.

Donna in San Francisco

Kristine said...

I'm with Will! A cow! A cow!

Not the same without you at the table on Thursday...GoG

Ken Albala said...

Hey guys, I am SO with you. A cow is exactly what I need. I've always thought with those big understanding sweet eyes - if everyone had a cow, what need would they have of psychologists?

And Glenn, I'm so glad you're going for the cave, but I'm increasingly thinking I need to carve out a real cave. Going really unplugged. I think for the sequel to the cookbook, in negotiation now.

Glenn said...

Carve out a sub-basement? I'm not sure...California central valley bedrock is nearly as hard as the stuff my wife says my head is made of. Unless....do you have any grad students pining away for a project? Heh heh heh...

And maybe...if not a cow, how about a few goats or a sheep? Not so much with the limpid brown eyes, but probably a lot less used grass to clean up.

Ken Albala said...

Hey Glenn, I actually already have a basement. It's a pottery studio though, and heats up when I do a firing, not to mention all the clay dust. But a cave cut vertically from it might work. With long passages lit with candles, so I can wander around in a monk's cowl and chant. Hmm.

Sustainable Eats said...

It looks lovely. But how did you make it without culture? did you use buttermilk or something? Or did you just let it go to curds and then drain? Now I'm curious. I have so many strains of yeast in my house (made 8 #s of bloomy rind on Fri next to sourdough, yeasted bread, fermented olives, dairy kefir, beet kvass and buttermilk all sitting out clabboring in my tiny kitchen.)

do tell. it's looks wonderful!

SarahBHood said...

Oh, this cheese is very exciting. I think I'd better finally get breadmaking under my belt first before I start the dairy. But for now I can live vicariously through the likes of you, Ken.

And the cow sounds like a great idea.

Ken Albala said...

Hey folks, Sometimes I do use buttermilk if I'm in a hurry. But this was just brought up to room temperature and left out for several hours. The bacteria all over my kitchen, I assume the same lactobacillus in the levain and pickles, gets to the milk too. Then rennet is added, cheddared, pressed, aged. I usually follow 18th century directions from Josiah Twamley. Or 17th c. from Vincenzo Tenaza. But I'm thinking I need to branch out to other cheese types.

el said...

Dude, what you need is a goat. Less feed, and the milk cries out for cheese. (I have a goat and goat-cheese bias though.) Barring that, of course, you could just get ahold of a couple of gallons of the caprine variety of milk...but then you're still at $20 a pound. Oh well!

(but it is funny how some cheeses just happen. Some of my best are the products of inattention...)

Ken Albala said...

YES!! I do need a goat too. But first I need a yard bigger than 20 square feet. Your farm and greenhouses look beautiful by the way.

Waldetrudis said...

Would love for you to post the steps you used to make your cheese, and how did you encourage the white bloom to grow without a culture?

Waldetrudis

Ken Albala said...

Dear Waldetrudis, The exact steps are 18th c. and written up in my cookbook, The Lost Art of Real Cooking. Plug plug. I'll be happy to help you in any way in person too though. Ken

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