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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

American Cheese

American cheese to most people means processed cheese food slices individually wrapped in soul crushing plastic and sold for about $3.50/lb. in the dairy case of your local supermarket.

To me, and to cheesemongers, makers, and enthusiasts around this country (and moving into other parts of the world) it means something different. American cheese is cheese made here in the U.S.A. from milk, enzymes, starter, salt, and molds. It is as different from K*&%@ singles as can be. Yes, to me that brand synonymous with "American cheese" is a curse word.

In a previous post I addressed "American cheese"

"American cheese has a legal definition. It is legal for it to have as little as 51% cheese . The rest is emulsifiers, enzymes, coloring, pixie dust , eye of newt and a wee pinch of despair. Velveeta is less than 51% cheese. I don't know what's in Velveeta. My guess is unadulterated evil and the tears of the innocent, but I could be wrong."

There is so much good cheese out there. Why go 51% when you can go 100%? Of course, you all know about my bias towards Vermont cheeses, but let's for a moment, go to the dairy land-Wisconsin. Last week the United States Champion Cheese Contest was held in WI. Jeanne at Cheese Underground can tell you more about it here. The winner was a Wisconsin cheese called SarVecchio Parmesean.

One of the things I like about SarVecchio is it's slight sweetness. Although you can grate it and use it just like it's Italian cousin, it has a slight flowery quality to it that I love. This summer when strawberries come into season try a few shavings of this cheese with some berries, a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar and a few twists of fresh cracked pepper.

Here is a trio for you. We have here from left to right,Parmigiano-Reggiano, SarVecchio from WI, and grated "cheese" that you find in the spaghetti aisle. Which do you want to eat?

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