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
I wouldn’t say snob. I’m a native St. Louisan and have been known to enjoy a pizza topped with Provel (a local specialty). If you don’t know what Provel is, it’s made with cheddar, Swiss and Provolone. Think white Velveeta—that about sums it up. But I have immense respect for all types of cheese and the process of cheesemaking. With amazing ingredients comes amazing cheese. I base my cheese philosophy on one essential idea: if you want amazing cheese, you need to start with the freshest, most flavorful milk you can find! It’s all about the milk sourcing. I prefer full-fat, raw milk. Whether it’s from a cow, goat or sheep, raw is best in my book.
I love all of the new interest in artisanal cheese! There is a growing number of people in our country who are concerned with where their food comes and who is producing it. It’s almost as if there is a massive return to simplicity. People are starting to pay attention to what they eat. They want to cut out all of the fillers and middlemen and get back to wholesome, nutritious and sustainable eating. And artisanal cheese is a big part of that. The number of artisanal cheese producers is continually growing here in the states. And that is a beautiful thing.
I don’t want to think about my final bite of cheese! I want to be eating cheese for a long, long time. And there are so many different styles of cheese out there that it is SO HARD to narrow it down. But I absolutely love a bowl of fresh popcorn with grated 5-year aged gouda shaved on top. Throw in a glass of bubbly and that is one heck of a great movie night! On the other end of the spectrum, I love a toasted bagle schmeared with a rich, creamy and luscious cheese like Kunik. With a nice mug of hot Goshen coffee, it’s the perfect way to start your day!
My cheesemonger husband and I have so graciously been given the opportunity to begin a sustainable farm and dairy in Southeastern Missouri. We will be raising chickens, geese, ducks, heritage breed hogs, sheep and a few dairy cows. We will be starting with sheep and cow’s milk cheeses but our big emphasis will be the sheep. There are some beautiful limestone caves on the property and we will use them for aging cheeses, hopefully. We are still in the planning stages of this adventure but hope to have some fresh sheep’s milk cheeses available within the next couple years.
I happen to love both beer and wine, and cheese can be paired so well with either. I think it comes down to this: who’s coming over? If it’s your crew of oenophiles, then of course, wine. But I hang with a great crew of craft beer drinkers too, and they LOVE cheese and beer. They have been really getting into some new cheeses with rinds that have been washed in beer or even mixed into the milk for different tastes and textures. So, gosh…I have to say BOTH! One of our local breweries in St. Louis, Schlafly, does a super fun beer and cheese pairing class every year during St. Louis Craft Beer Week. It is a great way to introduce people to the interesting—and often surprising—pairing of beer and cheese.
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.