Cheese lovers, unite! This is the Menuism Cheese Blog, where you'll learn all about cheese: how cheese is made, how to pair cheese with food and drink, and artisanal, wonderful cheeses for you to try. Not sure where to begin? Try exploring Artisanal Cheese 101, All About Goat's Milk Cheese, and 7 Tips for Assembling a Basic Cheese Board.
Photo by Faded Leaves

Photo by Faded Leaves

A touch like buying a birthday present for the couple that has everything — a high-rise apartment in Manhattan, a country home, two children decked out in designer attire who just were gifted ponies for their last birthday — shopping for a cheese or wine geek can be a tricky thing. There’s, for example, the danger of gifting a cheese that would just end up in a gratin because it’s not what they’d consider cheese-plate caliber, or giving them a wine they’d only save for the end of a party (I call this “less-judgmental time 2-buck Chuck hour”), because it’s just not their thing. One wants to make sure the gift is appreciated, but how does a non-caseophile or connoisseur know if they don’t exist in the same level of geekiness as the giftee?

Here are eight gifts that are sure not to disappoint the most cheese and wine discerning. Most are reasonably-priced, and some are smaller items which can even be grouped together for bigger gifting. Bonus: they’re special or geeky enough that late shoppers who write “this is being shipped” on a holiday card will be forgiven will a smile. (more…)

Posted by on December 18th, 2012

Dairy barn in Vermont. Photo by cernese

Beach vacations are just fine, but if a travel destination’s main selling point is the tiny umbrellas it puts in its coconut drinks, visiting is probably lower on my tourist list than taking a trip to my dentist’s office. But if freshly cooked, just-caught fish and local cheese is thrown in the equation, that’s another story.

If you’re like me and you plan your trips almost entirely around culinary desires, then this post is for you. While I love traveling to beautiful locations, hiking around the countryside, shopping like I have more money than I do, and perusing city sights, there better be good food and drink involved. Seeing the David in Florence is lovely, but thoughts of the cinghiale and Sangiovese waiting for me afterwards is what keeps me going. (more…)

Posted by on November 26th, 2012

Labneh. Photo by Ana Hruby

If the height of your spreadable cheese indulgence hasn’t yet gone beyond smearing foil-wrapped cream cheese over a bagel or toast, it’s time to look beyond the rectangular dairy brick. Your butter knife needs something better to cling to at breakfast time.

From France’s Neufchâtel to Germany’s quark, the world is full of creamy cheeses just waiting to top your carbohydrate of choice. Some come as smooth and white as winter’s first snow, and others come with a jacket — or rind — that keeps their centers soft and lush.

The following is a list of my favorite cheese spreaders from American classics to Middle Eastern and Italian inspirations. All are only a store or mouse click away, and all are less laden with stabilizers and preservatives than the cream cheese most of us grew up with. (more…)

Posted by on October 2nd, 2012

Cheese, if you haven’t noticed yet, is making headlines. And titles. Our artisan cheese culture is the most vibrant it’s been in decades, and there’s no lack of people who want to taste and read about its many delights, nuances, and history. It’s an exciting cheese world out there, dairy girls and boys, and there are a plethora of books that explore its magnitude. So put down that slice of Alpine-style, pasture-fed raw milk cheese that’s only made from April to October for long enough to pick up one of these reads. Reconsider that slice with one of these books in hand, and you’ll feel closer to that fermented milk than you ever imagined you would. (more…)

Posted by on July 26th, 2012

Photo by Matt Wright

Milk and its relatives, like ice cream or cheese, have been known to aggravate a few tummies in their day. Secure about itself and its place in the world, dairy just goes out there and does its thing without worrying about rubbing anyone in the wrong way. Many times this works out. Other times, not so much. If you have been rubbed wrong by straightforward dairyness, fear not. Different milks are made up of many components that affect (or don’t affect) people in various ways, and milk undergoes many chemical transitions on its way to becoming cheese. More likely than not, there is a way you can embrace the dairy world in cheese form. (more…)

Posted by on May 22nd, 2012

Photo by Nanjinged

April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and we couldn’t be more excited to pay homage to the classic American sandwich! Often paired with a bowl of piping-hot tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches have remained a popular childhood fixture. But beyond a childhood snack, a great number of fans maintain their sandwich love affair well beyond their kiddie years. Both humble and haute sandwich reincarnations have emerged on the food scene, and one thing is for sure — grilled cheese sandwiches satisfy the youthful and adult palette alike. Below, you’ll find a brief look into the history behind the comfort food favorite, and a few places to find a killer grilled cheese sandwich. (more…)

Posted by on April 23rd, 2012

Photo by Celine Asril

The first time I heard someone call Comté “stinky,” my jaw dropped. Comté, a semi-hard lightly washed rind from France’s jura region, is a sultry, sweet wheel with flavors of butter, toasted walnuts, caramel, and from time to time, notes of caramel or beef. I would have sooner called a rose stinky than Comté. It wasn’t until that French friend told me that on one of the many gastronomic field trips that French children take during elementary school, she fainted in a Comté cave because the scent was so fierce, that I really thought about the term stinky. (more…)

Posted by on March 27th, 2012

Photo by Natoora

No offense to my other great dessert loves, carrot cake with orange-cream cheese frosting, or peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, but I’ve never been of the mindset that one needs to end the night with a sugary bang. Maybe just a light ka-boom.

For me, cheese supplies enough of that ka-boom. A little sweet, a little salty, and creamy and loving to everyone that it meets, cheese is its own dessert. Plus, it requires less time than carrot cake, souffles, cupcakes, tarts, and even fruit salad (if you count that as a dessert) to put together. Add a drizzle of honey, a slice of fig, or a spoonful of preserves, and the end of the night just got that much sweeter. (more…)

Posted by on February 21st, 2012

Kirstin Jackson is a professionally trained cook, wine bar manager and cheese program director, food and wine writer, consultant, and instructor, whose fridge and head is almost entirely consumed with cheese. Her cheese blog, “It’s Not You, It’s Brie,” was launched in April 2009, and has since received accolades from Blogs.com, Foodista, and Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchen. And now, we’re proud to say, she’s joined our expert ranks at Menuism! Get to know Kirstin a little better with this interview, and please help us welcome her to community. (more…)

Posted by on February 16th, 2012

Photo by sporkist

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…)

Posted by on April 27th, 2011

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