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master cheesemonger/grocer

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  1. You charming young people. Listen, first of all I don't see anything coming down the road, and second, stop whining about fat. Fat is GOOD. Be a responsible adult and don't over-indulge in anything. But most important, remember always: THE HARDER THE CHEESE, THE HIGHER THE FAT; THE SOFTER THE CHEESE, THE LOWER THE FAT. Do not bother looking at a cheese's fat content. This issue is the moisture content. Period.
  2. A recent medical report published in a responsible medical journal, name of which escapes me, was a lightening bolt: Cheese contains an enzyme called casomorphin that has the same molecular structure as morphine-based compounds; the report opines this is the reason cheese is so addictive, that you are getting a buzz you're not consciously aware of. This could explain your reaction to this Virot I've never heard of. Perhaps it was front-loaded by some stoner French cheesemaker.
  3. All three Fairway counters stock the same cheeses, with the inevitable omission which can be corrected by complaining to Randy (Plainview), Pedro or Jeff (Harlem) or Audrese, Mike or Junior )74th & B'way.
  4. Hello Peter We (Fairway) stock quark; German, no fat, low fat, full fat. It's around town; comes in from Haram-Christenson. I thought our Ben's (Houston St.) fresh cream cheese (no gums) was the integral ingredient for cheesecake. Normandy fromage blanc. I don't bother with German handkase. Pasteurized, mass-production; all I get is the smelly from them. No articulable flavor from the interior other than cheesiness. Vastly prefer other stuff from France and Northern Italy.
  5. Port-Salut, from one of the biggest cheese factories on earth, is THE cheese for people who don't really like cheese. It is completely without merit. Glossy, flabby and vaguely cheesy. There are dozens of better choices, cheeses with the same texture, cheeses that melt nicely, cheeses that are not strong, cheeses that actually have some link to the cows and to the pasture and to the people that make them; for instance, Morbier, raclette, Vacherin Fribourgeois, Fontina d'Aosta, Belgian Chimay, Tomme de Savoie. I know I'm sticking my big nose in where it wasn't asked to show up, but I hate it that you are helping to perpetuate silly cheeses like Port-Salut. You'll have no trouble cutting sticky Port-Salut if you use a thin-bladed knife that you frequently dip in hot, hot water. You could also effortlessly cut cheeses of this semi-soft texture by employing a wire.
  6. You know, now that I think about it, shanklish is imported -- by Charlie Sahadi at Sahadi on Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn. The balls are small, they come a few different ways (plain, herbed, etc.) and are packed in jars in olive oil. I believe they're Lebanese. Call them. They probably have a website.
  7. No, it's because in late fall through winter and early spring the goats are not eating fresh vegetation; they're eating hay. It's the chlorophyll in fresh grass, herbs, etc. that provides the sweetness to milk. That's why the first growth of grass in the spring is so celebrated by cheese-loving Europeans. The cheese is as ebullient as the animals. But lots of Italians vastly prefer Parmigiano that was made from winter milk; they adore the complexity they detect in latte d'inverno than latte d'estate. All food preferences are subjective. The second-greatest cheese in the world, Vacherin Mont d'Or, is made solely from winter milk. There you have it.
  8. Let me add that all this "affinage" business does is increase the price of already costly cheeses. European affineurs are not in the business because they want to delight their customers; they're in the business of affinage because they make more money -- they buy YOUNG cheeses from their makers at a special low price the cheesemaker is happy to extend because she gets paid up front. The affineur then handles the cheese for however long it takes for it to become ready to enjoy, tacks on an upcharge based on how long he's had to hold onto it, and everybody makes money. Period. This American attempt to make hay out of a purely European commercial process is so typical of us.
  9. It's also directly related to the atavism that makes dogs want to roll in putrefaction. Getting to know you . . . !
  10. That's for cheeseMAKING, for crying out loud. There is no "certification" for becoming a cheesemonger.
  11. Yeah, scamorza works. Enough already with Mario. I've had it up to here.
  12. To both of you: I take cheeses with me everywhere. I never think twice about it, unless it's really smelly and people are looking at me like I recently filled my pants. Don't hesitate. Don't even worry about cold packs, but use 'em if you got 'em. Your only mission is to not crush them. Otherwise they'll be fine. Same goes for shipping cheese. Of course, it never hurts to pay a little more for overnight delivery; at the least, second-day air.
  13. Segregate blues from non-blues; use plastic (Saran-type) wrap for semi-firm cheeses (Fontina, Morbier); use flimsy, bakery-stlye, pastry-grab paper for chevres and super-soft cheeses; use aluminum foil over-wrapped with plastic wrap for hard cheeses. Keep all cheeses as low in the rfrgrtr as poss. (coolest, most humidity); your home rfrgrtr is your friend, not your enemy. Only cut off as much cheese from the host piece as you intend to wipe out at that sitting. Immediately re-wrap and re-refrigerate each host piece. Not exactly rocket science.
  14. Ihsan Gurdal (he and his wife own FK) is a trusted friend and he is highly knowledgable. Neither he nor I are qualified to give you any advice. But if we didn't care about that we would tell you you're 180 degrees off. Of food-borne illnesses, a tiny fraction are related to dairy foods. Of those tainted dairy foods a tiny fraction of THAT tiny fraction are caused by cheese. Of THAT tiny number I'm telling you 99.9% of those substantiated tainted cheeses were made from pasteurized milk. So why do doctors and pediatricians and OB/GYNs advise their patients to avoid soft cheeses and all raw milk cheeses? Because they are parroting flawed data from well-disseminated medical reports, reports that are scientifically skewed to measure bacterial parts per billion rather than realistic parts per million, reports that we have successfully challenged via microbiological REAL data, etc. ad nauseum. You are as likely to lose your baby from eating artisanal cheeses as you are to get hit by space garbage. But I am not qualified to say a word. Listeria (the main culprit; e coli is not) thrives at low temperatures (factory refrigeration, supermarket walk-in refrigerators) and has proven to be a post-pasteurization phenomenon. Pasteurization results in "tabula rasa" (clean slate) milk wherein there is no natural order between good bacteria (the overwhelming majority of bacteria in raw milk are "good" bacteria) and bad bacteria. The Listeria have no competition; they run rampant. I'd be wary of Jarlsberg.
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