Hone Your Cheese Vocab:

Posted by Maddie on November 17, 2011 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (2)

Describing cheese requires skill. And I'm not yet an expert yet either, but I'm learning from one: Max McCalman. Max McCalman is a James Beard Award recipient, author of 3 successful reference books on cheese, Dean of Curriculum at Artisanal, won the "World's Best Book on Cheese" Award, and is NASA's go-to guy for all questions cheese. 

I thought I would compile a list for you so you can describe cheese like the professionals do. 


Pillowy, Creamy, Dense, Chewy, Elastic, Velvety, Toothsome, Pasty, Sticky, Crumbly, Dry, Creamy, Dense, Chewy, Elastic, Pliable


Barnyardy, Beefy, Grassy, Gamy, Earthy, Herbaceous, Tangy, Buttery, 

Earthy, Nutty, Mushroomy, Sharp, Stinky, Pungent, Smoky, Caramelized

Now, all you poets can use these adjectives in your poems about cheese! Email your poems, or comment below!



Fairway Does Not Believe in Affinage. Artisanal and Murray's does...

Posted by Maddie on October 23, 2011 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (14)

Can you taste the difference in the cave aged cheeses? I took this on my Sunday morning grocery shopping to Fairway. I just don't buy cheeses there. Read this article about the difference between Artisanal, Murray's and Fairway: Thoughts?

Photo taken by Maddie G

What do Max McCalman and NASA have in common?

Posted by Maddie on October 22, 2011 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (4)

I learned from Max during the professional Master Class that NASA called him about why the Russians were bringing Parmesan up to space:

Read Max's comment:

Max's choice: "it's concentrated, hard cheese from Switzerland that I call the great-great-grandfather of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Apparently, the Italians learned how to make Parm through Sbrinz. But Parm is made with skim milk, while Sbrinz is made with whole, so all the butterfat stays within the cheese and it tastes like a perfectly balanced butter. It's got a pretty good wallop of savory umami as well. All you need is a little bit to be satisfied. Plus, it doesn't have that salty, hard edge that Parm can have and it's never excessively sour or bitter. I told NASA they should bring it into space because it doesn't go bad over time - it gets better and offers more nutrition in a small package than any other food. We had a wheel at Artisanal that was aged for eight years, and once we cracked it open it was gone within a week, it was so good."

Serve with: Raw, unfiltered honey ($9 for two pieces of honeycomb at the Union Square market). " The Sbrinz is more savory, so the sweet honey balances that. The honey and the Sbrinz provide near-complete nutrition."

Pair with: A 1995 Krug vintage champagne ($235; "The smooth texture, light acid, good fruit and elegance brings out the buttery aspect of the cheese. But if you don't want to splurge, you can also try a Bouvet Brut ($12.95;".

Cheese: A Coming-of-Age Story

Posted by Maddie on October 5, 2011 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (1)


Cheese: A Coming-of-Age Story


ROB KAUFELT and Brian Ralph were standing in a cool underground bunker below Murray’s Cheese Shop in Greenwich Village, giving a visitor a tour of five temperature-and-humidity-controlled cheese caves. The man-made chambers, they said, prevent many of the things that can go wrong with cheese when it is not handled properly.


Take slipskin. If a mold-ripened cheese is stored in a place that is too humid or warm, the mold that coats the outside can “grow very aggressively,” said Mr. Ralph, 26, the cave manager at Murray’s. “It gets thicker and thicker and it peels away from the paste.”


Or if Cheddar is ripened carelessly, he said, “sometimes it can turn sulfuric, kind of rotten-eggy.”


Mr. Kaufelt, who has owned Murray’s since 1991, said, “If it’s too dry, it can crack.”


On the surface, the conversation might seem like a mere collection of scary stories about good cheese gone bad. But underneath it all, the two men were offering a glimpse into a topic that inspires both evangelical zeal and scoffing among hard-core fanatics of fromage.


They were talking about affinage.


Affinage is the careful practice of ripening cheese, but it’s about much more than simply letting a few stinky wheels sit until some magical buzzer goes off. For those who believe the affinage gospel, it is about a series of tedious, ritualized procedures (washing, flipping, brushing, patting, spritzing) that are meant to inch each wheel and wedge toward an apex of delectability.


But if the affineur has become the cheese world’s version of the mixologist — a lab-coat-clad expert with a seemingly bottomless appetite for arcana — there are those who strongly resist drinking his small-batch Kool-Aid. To say that Steven Jenkins is a skeptic, for instance, would be an understatement.


“This affinage thing is a total crock,” said Mr. Jenkins, the cheese monger at Fairway and the author of the pivotal 1996 book “Cheese Primer.” “All it does is drastically inflate the cost of cheeses that have benefited zero from this faux-alchemical nonsense.”


4 Cheeses at Artisanal:

Posted by Maddie on August 23, 2011 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (1)

Grasslands Blue (cow from US) =1 Salty, dry, crumbly blue. I like Stilton better

Tomme Fermiere d'Alsace (cow milk from France) +1 Delicious

Pecorino Sardo (sheep milk from Italy) +2 Amazing for any occasion

Brillat Savarin Frais (cow milk from France) -1 The rind and cream adjacent to it tastes good but not the center.

Artisanal Adventures: Perks of Working Here

Posted by Maddie on August 23, 2011 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (5)

Today, I worked on preparing for Artisanal's night class, Italian Cheese and Wine. During lunch, I was presented with more reasons why I love Artisanal. More cheese samples!

Photos can be found by clicking the link here:

The following four cheese were cut into cubes:

1. Pecorino Sardo (sheep milk)

2. Grasslands Blue (cow milk)

3. Tomme de Savoie (cow milk)

4. Brillat-Savarin (cow milk)

Artisanal Adventures: What I'm Doing: Aug 19

Posted by Maddie on August 19, 2011 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (25)

Today I arrived to work at 10 and finished inputting class evaluations and email addresses on the computer by 11. Next, I read the comments people had for the class and compiled a list of testimonials to update the website with.

At 11:45 I was told to work in the cheese caves--the blue cheese cave aka the coldest of the 5 cheese caves. I had to flip and face all the cheeses. For you newbies out there, I had to flip the cheese wheels or cheese wheel halves over so the butterfat doesn't concentrate to one side. The cheese must have equal butterfat throughout! The liquid drippy butterfat made it hard at times to flip the cheese. It would slip through my fingers, and I was wearing gloves. I had to change my gloves after each shelf of blue cheese. This cave only had blue cheese: roquefort papillion, stilton, gorgonzola, were just a few. It was so cold, the tips of my fingers were pink and I could feel each nerve when I ran my hands over room temp water. It felt like I was dipping my fingers in boiling water though! I told a cheese cutter working in production back in the caves that it was so cold! So, he kindly gave me the pants that all the production people wore. It was too big so I used a ribbon as a belt and created high waisted pants now. For the bottom cheese shelves I was just sitting on the floor. In the beginning I was wearing an abercrombie dress and a blue button down sweater. I was dying of cold. It was only .9 degrees Celsius with 97% humidity. The air condition droplets kept dripping on my hairnet and my hair kept falling out. I couldn't scratch my face or take the hair in the way of my eyesight. When I had an itch, I couldn't scratch. I was restrained because my gloves were covered in the light yellow greasy butterfat! My hands are still not back to normal as I'm typing this. My fingers still smell like blue cheese and I'm scared to go out and get lunch for others to smell me. I also still feel like the hairnet is on my head--but it's not. Here's a photo of me in the cheese cave hallway at Artisanal

I just finished at 1:47. Now I'm going to get lunch to re-energize. I'm physically and mentally tired. I never loved office work more!

How to Make Mozzarella from Curds: Maddie's Recipe

Posted by Maddie on August 19, 2011 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (26)

How to Make Mozzarella from Curds

Note: One of my tasks today at Artisanal was to use what I remembered from my Master Class. I had to make a handout on how to make mozzarella. On the second day of the two-day intensive course, I had a mozzarella making class taught by Holly Cruz. We started from curds. A lot of people in Artisanal's mozzarella class last week wanted the step-by-step recipe so here it is reproduced below. It tastes really good. If you decide to try this recipe, please let me know how it goes! I know you won't be disappointed.


1. Large block of curds

2. Boiling water (149 degrees Fahrenheit)

3. Ice bath

4. Salt

5. Whole milk (if desired for storage)


1. Wooden spoon

2. Knife

3. 3 large bowls

4. Plastic containers (to store curd)

5. Cutting board

6. Measuring cup

7. Pot and lid


1. Setting up your station: Create an ice bath in a container you can easily stick both your hands in (1/3 part ice, 2/3 part cold water)

2. Use your knife to cut 1 inch by 1 inch cubes of curd on the cutting board and put in large bowl

3. Let water boil to 149 degrees while you are cutting the curd into cubes

4. Add ¼ cup of salt to the bowl with cubed curds. Add more or less as desired.

5. Indirectly pour 149 degrees Fahrenheit water onto curds in bowl

6. Use your wooden spoon to stir and strengthen curds into a lined, stringy texture. The curds should now look shiny and like plastic. Stretch for about 10 minutes over the large bowl filled with shiny curd and hot milky water.

7. Use the wooden spoon to raise a portion of the curd and knead it into a ball. Surface should be smooth.

10. Place the ball now into the ice bath for 5 minutes maximum.

11. Repeat for the rest of the curds but continue making sure no mozzarella ball is left in the bath for more than 5 minutes.

12. Take out the balls that have been in the ice bath for 5 minutes.

13. They can be eaten now but you can store the cheese in a plastic container filled with milk or water. Store in whole milk to make the mozzarella taste extra creamy.

At Artisanal: Cheese Plate for Lunch

Posted by Maddie on August 18, 2011 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (1)



Edwin's Munster: (the creamy one) great texture, rind was okay +1,

Prattagaur: (the hard one on the far right) tastes like gruyere, dense, firm +1

Fourme d'Ambert (blue) smoky, crumbly, mild +2, 

Note: That thing in the middle is the Artisanal fondue cheese.

Eating Cheese at Artisanal

Posted by Maddie on August 16, 2011 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Lily (pronounced Lilay) is a hard cow milk cheese from Vermont that is trying to model the French Coulommiers.

My thoughts: A little salty, tastes like a salty cream cheese. Tastes great near the rind because it is more sticky and liquidy. Has mushroomy flavor. You can taste the bitter amonia aftertaste. The firmer middle tastes similar to the Jersey cow cheese I tried at Artisanal a few days ago. Complementing rind. I rate it a +1.  Here is a link to a picture. The structure and shape is modeled after the French coullemiere but it will be available in a  3 pound version, a 1 pound version, and a 2.2 kg version. Artisanal Cheese will be selling this cheese soon.

Matched with a poem?

THE LAYERS by Claire Beynon (

I have walked through many lives

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

"Live in the layers,

not on the litter."

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.


Cheese Plate @ Artisanal: August 12, 2011

Posted by Maddie on August 12, 2011 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (1)

My Cheese Plate Today, Aug 12

1. Roves des Garrigues

2. Cremont

3. Pierre Robert

4. Pecorino Toscano Stagionato

5. Hittisau

6. Gouda, Aged 4 years

7. La Peral

My ratings for today's cheese plate:

Roves des Garrigues: +1. fresh, light, herby, taste does't linger too much, light aftertaste

Cremont: +0. tart, acid, chalky, salty, light, flavorful rind

Pierre Robert: +1. aftertaste is saltier, texture is more liquidy as you get closer to middle. salty, firmer portion of cheese tastes like cream cheese. tastes better with rind, acidic, can taste ammonia, liquid paste tastes better

Pecorino Toscano Stagionato: +1. nutty, olive oil flavor, milk, salty, very mild, not very flavorful

Hittisau: +2. good melting cheese, "fryable," rich, deep, full flavor, good aftertaste, tastes good with rind, earthy

Gouda, Aged 4 Years: +0. salty, sweet, crystalline texture, tastes good with concord grape juice, tastes briny, waxy oily coating, more mild near rind, caramel-like

La Peral: +1. like a dry gorgonzola, briny, salty


The cream from one fat is striped off and combined with another cream for making double and triple cremes. 

Transhumance: vertical seasonal livestock movement, typically to higher pastures in summer and to lower valleys in winter.

parmiggiano = olive oil flavor pecorino = meaty