Monday, August 30, 2010

Parmesan Continued

My 3 pound wheel of Parmesan was finally ready to try, so I broke it open with abandon. And lo and behold, it tastes like Parmesan! Truly! I'm amazed that I made this cheese that tastes like it came from Italy (and I'm not just sayin' that to sound cool).

Now, due to drought conditions in my cheese fridge, the cheese does have a thick, dry rind, but overall it's salty and delicious. I've got a humidifier on the way so plan to perfect this process.

As of now, this cheese can officially be dubbed "a success."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cheese Extravaganza

My mom and sisters were here recently and if there's one thing we love more than just being together, it's cheese. Gooey, stinky, fruity, nutty, melty delicious cheese. So even though my blood is now thicker than paint, it was well worth the cheese tasting we enjoyed almost every day.

We started with a simple Trader Joe's selction, featuring many cheeses I know and love such as Pecorino, St. Andre, Cambanzola, Manchego and fresh mozzarella. A new favorite did appear however: the Délice de Bourgogne, a French cow's milk triple creme. Apparently during the cheesemaking process, cream is added twice, so it's soft and creamy, a little like a really good brie, but with a mushroomy scent. It was outstanding.

Next was a trip to the Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, one of my favorite foodie places in the world! We decided to get a selection of cheeses we had all never tasted before, and forsake our favorites (Oh, Humboldt Fog, I still love you!). My little sister chose an Abbaye de Belloc that was outstanding, while I selected an unassuming little grey pat of cheese called Bonne Buche. We all voted this little goat's milk cheese (which didn't taste as tangy as goat cheese at all!) as the star of the bunch, and enjoyed its gooiness until it was gone. I will definitely buy that again- it goes in my top 5 cheeses in my lifetime for sure.

Finally, a night in Monterey and a quick trip for a lunch provided none other than the Carmel Cheese Shop. I can't tell you how much I adore this store. It's bliss to point at amazing cheeses and taste things you've never tried before. We got some crusty French bread, and then went to work. Julia took a chance an a raspberry cheese; it had a subtle essence of raspberry worked through but was a creamy ivory color and was a harder cheese. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! While they were out of Explorateur, they did have the most perfectly ripened Epoisses I've ever tasted, which we enjoyed for days after. Epoisses is a hard cheese to enjoy because it's so pungent, but I adore it and enjoyed each bite. But in spite of this, our favorite cheese was a sheep and cow's milk blend called Robiola. It was a square shape and gooey on the inside; subtle but flavorful. My mouth waters just thinking about it. A few plastic knives and our picnic was complete.

Cheese to me is one of the world's perfect foods. It's so diverse, and so expressive of the land and life around its origins. To be able to enjoy something so perfect yet so simple is one of the best little pleasures.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I've got honey, honey!

My bees are decidedly the messiest bunch of animals on the Central Coast. They've built some gorgeously natural looking (translation: disorganized and frenetic) combs in the first super, and are now in the process of glueing the queen excluder to the second super of combs right on top.

Meaning that when I need to get into the hive, I have to pry off the box, break the combs binding it together, and...piss off the bees.

Up until now, my bees have been the gentlest, tamest girls in the world. I've never used my smoker, and I can put my bare hands in and not have a problem. They buzz around happily, creating more comb and checking me out while I sing to them or chat away about whatever's going on. (Note: bees have no hearing apparatus, so this is really for my own benefit.)

I guess if someone came into my house and broke all my hard work apart I'd be angry, too. And yet I'll keep doing this because I get one of the coolest benefits ever.

When I break the comb a little, honey literally pours out. And it's the coolest thing in the world to stick your finger into a warm puddle of sweet goodness and taste it right out of the hive. I don't have enough to bottle just yet, but the experience makes up for that.