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Showing posts with label Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin. Show all posts

Thursday, January 28, 2010

California Crottin and Book Giveaway Winner!

By this point you all know how I feel about goat cheese. My passion for the goaty goodness borders on the ridiculous. Today it's all about Redwood Hill Farm from California and their tasty little Crottin.

Before we get into the tasty cheese, let's talk for a minute about the actual farm and the cheesemakers behind some of my favorite goat products. Redwood Hill Farm is sustainably farmed. They are also one of the few certified humane-raised and handled and were the first goat dairy in the U.S.A. to be named such. That's all well and good, but what does it mean to be "certified humane"?

For Redwood Hill Farm it means
The label assures consumers that a meat, poultry, egg or dairy product has been produced according to HFAC's precise standards for humane farm animal treatment. Animals must receive a nutritious diet free of antibiotics or hormones and must be raised with shelter, resting areas and space that are sufficient to support natural behavior.
The standards can be found here if you're interested in reading more about it. Remember when the label "organic" meant something? Now it feels like everyone is doing "organic" food. Organic used to be a word primarily used for small farmers doing small production, not anymore though. Anyone with enough money can become certified organic.

I think that having the humane raised and handled label is a good idea-at least right now. When I see this label on a product I will know that the animals were taken care of from conception to slaughter. One of my favorite regulations is
Cages, crates and tie stalls are among the forbidden practices, and animals must be free to do what comes naturally. For example, chickens are able to flap their wings and dust bathe, and pigs have the space to move around and root.
What that means if you're a goat is that you get to be a goat. You can nibble, play, jump, be mischievous, get shelter from the elements, and chat with your goaty friends.

While I am happy for the new labeling, I am also saddened that it's necessary. Shouldn't all animals be raised humanely?

Ok, enough of my soapbox spewings, let's talk about the cheese. While I have enjoyed a few of their products before like their Camellia and Kefir, the Crottin remains my favorite. When young it is a creamy, acidic, citrus zesty, slightly earthy cheese. As it ages and becomes more firm (perfect for grating over pasta) the saltiness is brought up and the goatiness becomes more pronounced. Hay, barnyard and white mushrooms are more prominent as well.

Cheese is one of my favorite things for breakfast. Take a few slices of the crottin, put it on a crusty bread and put it under the broiler. The cheese melts into an ooey, gooey pile of earthy, milky, goaty goodness. At 3oz. you could share with a friend, or you could be like me and keep it all for yourself.


Now, for the winner of the Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin book giveaway. And the winner is...lucky #26, Nickolay! Thanks for all of you for telling me about your favorite cheese through comments and email. Some of them I'd written about before and some of them are going to be featured in upcoming posts. If you have any suggestions for me, cheesy books you love, a cheese I've just GOT to try, send me an email: cheeseisalive@gmail.com

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wisconsin Cheese and Book Giveaway

Yesterday was National Cheese Lover's Day and I celebrated with slightly stinky cheese from Wisconsin.

Since last year I have been having a rather tricky time finding perfectly ripened, stinky, creamy, gooey Les Freres from Crave Brothers. As luck would have it about 6 weeks ago I found a Petit Frere and decided to hold it for a while.

Like a good girl I kept the cheese in my crisper, and periodically would check it for any weird molds, or funkiness. Every few days I would open up the package, let it breathe, re-wrap it, flip the cheese over and put it back in the crisper.

Yesterday it was time. My inspiration was Brie en Croute. Something I've heard about, but never had. Essentially you take some soft-ripened, bloomy rind cheese, top it with something yummy like a fig jam, or fruit and nuts, wrap it in puff pastry and pop it in the oven.

So, yesterday at work I took the Petit Frere, put it in puff pastry, I forgot eggs for the egg wash popped it in the oven for 10 minutes on 425 and then bumped it down to 350 for 15 minutes more. When I opened the oven door I was knocked out by the smell. Sooooo good. The cheese which had a slight funk before going into the oven came out smelling a bit funky and a little flowery. It had also squirted out of the bottom a bit, so we opened up the top and put all that cheese right back in. The cheese had a sweet slightly tangy milk flavor with a little bit of a white button mushroom thing going on. We noshed on this with some balsamic onions and a bottle of wine made by a friend of one of the crew. Perfect way to end a day of work.

So, this all leads me up to the giveaway. This Christmas Santa got me a bunch of books, including the book The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin. I got a lot of cheese books this past Christmas and this one is a lot of fun to read. Look for a background on Jeanne from Cheese Underground on pg. 52 One of the things I like most about this book was learning about cheesemakers I didn't know before. The cheese world in general for good or for ill has a category for "Celebrity Cheesemakers". This book does a good job of talking about cheesemakers you might not have heard of, and how they started on the path to the tests, and commitment it takes to become a Master Cheesemaker in WI. One of my favorite quotes from the book comes from Joe Widmer
You saw my guys out at the vats flipping the cheese--a lot of that's done with machines now at other plants. We're still leaning over the vats. What do you want, Grandma's doughnuts, or Dunkin' Donuts?

Full Disclosure: Shortly after putting up the Limburger post I got an email from a representative for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board asking if I'd like to get a copy of this book and do a review of it. I told her that I'd already gotten a copy, but would pass it along to my readers if they wanted to send me one.

So, now I have this extra book and I want to send it to you. But how will I choose? If you want to enter all you have to do is tell me about either one of your favorite cheeses (hopefully not one I've already written about), cheesemakers, or cheese shops. That's it. Send me an email with your pick, a brief description why your pick rocks and your name. I will assign numbers to the entries based on the order I receive them, and pick the winner from a hat. I can't wait to read your suggestions!

p.s.
Yes, I will ship outside of the U.S.A.

p.p.s.
Yes, I still wish there was a Master Cheesemaker title that included and was available to all cheesemakers in any state.