Annie Lehrer is a nurse practitioner who will soon be a farm girl and cheesemaker. Born and raised in St. Louis, she’s been in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother since she can remember. Having a house full of family, friends and delicious food is her idea of the perfect way to spend an evening. A former travel nurse, Annie has lived in various cities across the U.S. exploring diverse culinary scenes. Food—and everything associated with it, from earth to belly—is her passion. She dwells in downtown St. Louis with her cheesemonger husband, Simon. When not caring for patients at the hospital, Annie is swillin’ craft beer with her beer nerd crew, researching livestock, writing recipes, planning chicken coop designs, keeping up with the St. Louis art scene and spending time with her big Lebanese family. She loves cheese. She writes about all things cheese on her blog The Cheesemonger’s Wife. She’s funny as hell. You can try and keep up with her crazy life on Twitter.
All great cheese starts with quality milk. That milk can be sourced from a variety of animals, from cows (think: cheddar) to sheep (think: manchego) to goats (think chevre). Today I’m going to talk about cheese made from the milk of water buffalos. That’s right: water buffalo. How else do you think mozzarella di bufala got its name?
Now, before your imagination starts conjuring up visions of huge, mean animals with fierce horns roaming the Mekong Delta, let’s talk a little bit about the animal that produces the delicious milk we find in buffalo’s milk cheese. There are two kinds of water buffalo: wild and domesticated. Wild water buffalo are considered an endangered species, so we don’t mess with them. They are free to roam and live their lives. (more…)
Last time, I covered sheep’s milk cheeses. Now let’s talk goats. Goats are one of the oldest domesticated animals, producing about two percent of the world’s annual milk supply. Although goat’s milk cheeses have been around for thousands of years, many people often assume that there is only one type of goat’s milk cheese—chèvre—and leave it at that. Oh, how they are mistaken!
Some people who are lactose sensitive tolerate goat’s milk better than cow’s milk, even though the lactose levels are about the same. Compared to cow’s and sheep’s milk, goat’s milk is the least fatty—but that doesn’t mean that it lacks flavor! In fact, goat’s milk and cheese made from goat’s milk is known for its characteristic tart flavor. (more…)
I have a secret to share. It’s not terribly juicy but it does often surprise most folks. So here it goes: You eat more sheep’s milk cheese than you think. It’s true. A good number of folks have no idea how often sheep’s milk cheeses find their way onto their plate. Have you ever stopped into your local Italian specialty market to pick up ricotta for your lasagna? If you have, you’ve had sheep’s milk cheese. Same goes for pecorino Romano—that’s a sheepy cheese as well. The Italian word for sheep is pecora.
We talked a little about sheep’s milk cheeses in my very first post on artisanal cheeses. Sheep have been used for dairy productions since long before cows entered the picture. Historically, the majority of dairy sheep could be found in Europe and the Mediterranean. But recently, the US has jumped on the dairy sheep bandwagon! (more…)
Artisanal cheese can be found in pretty much every state in the union. I dare you to try and name a state that doesn’t have at least one dairy or creamery. Even the island of Hawaii is home to some great cheesemakers! Over my next few posts, I’ll talk about some of these great American cheesemakers, starting with my home state of Missouri.
The Forche du Clos Valley 65 miles south of St. Louis is full of valleys, fresh water streams, springs and fields, and is home to the community of Sainte Genevieve. That is where you’ll find Baetje Farms, a family-owned and operated farm, and purveyors and makers of some of the region’s best artisanal farmstead goat’s cheese. Originally settled by the French, Ste. Genevieve still retains much of its European flavor—which extends to the cheesemaking process, too. (more…)
The United States is embarking on a revival of the craft of artisan cheesemaking. Over the past several years, American-made artisanal cheese has won back its place in the hearts of the people. Artisanal cheese can be found once again in cases at wine shops, specialty stores and at farmers’ markets. According to the American Cheese Society, there has been astounding growth in membership as well as the number and variety of American artisanal cheeses entered in its annual competition.
Some folks may dare to say that American artisanal cheese may rival those European classics that have long been thought of as the best of the best. It cannot be denied that American artisanal cheesemakers are becoming well known across the country. With the advent of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and cheese periodicals like Culture, American cheesemakers and cheesemongers are winning over America’s food enthusiasts. (more…)
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin once said, “A meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” I couldn’t agree more! Ending a meal with cheese is a lovely substitution (or addition) to the dessert course.
I’ll discuss some general guidelines, but first, know that the “rules” of assembling a cheese board are so subjective. You gotta do what you feel! My favorite boards highlight the different kinds of milk used to make cheese. Assembling any type of cheese board, however, is a great opportunity to introduce something new to family and friends—especially the unadventurous eaters. (more…)
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I happen to agree with that adage 100 percent. Add a platter of delicious cheese and it’s proof that God not only loves us and wants us to be happy, but also is letting us have a taste of heaven right here on earth. Many folks think that the perfect beverage to serve with cheese is wine. And surely for some, it is. But don’t discount the age-old fermented brew. Humans have been drinking beer since 9000 B.C.! Like cheese, beer is a complex and varied beverage. And like cheese, small batch, hand-crafted brew is a delight—and the perfect match for artisanal cheese. After all, they both start with the same ingredient: grass. (more…)
One of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s most famous quotes describes the passion that most countries—notably France—have for cheese: “A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” However, here in the states I have found that a good majority of folks think cheese only comes from cows, shrink-wrapped in individual slices and stacked in neat piles on the shelves of our mega-mart’s refrigerated sections. Friends, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Cheese is a complex, varied and often misunderstood part of our culinary and agricultural history. So, here I am: a girl from South St. Louis, willing and ready to give you the basic nuts and bolts of artisanal cheeses. (more…)
The next addition to our Experts Blog is Annie Lehrer of The Cheesemonger’s Wife. Many of us only know cheese as a great complementary food, but it can also be the star of the show! We’re excited to have Annie on board to help us understand everything there is to know in the wonderful world of cheese. – John & Justin, Menuism Founders