Fall 2014                           

In This Issue

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New & Noteworthy
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Fresh from the Vat
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Science and Nutrition
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What We're Cooking: Recipe Guide
>Ask the Expert

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Community Spotlight

Friends of Traditional Cheese


The Cheese of Choice Coalition is excited to offer the very first edition of our quarterly CheeseMatters newsletter. Inside you will find:
  • "Fresh from the Vat" news of interest to our cheese community
  • Summaries of two scientific studies: one that examines the risk profile of raw-milk cheese and another that proves cheese is an integral part of a healthful diet
  • Two great autumn-inspired recipes incorporating traditional cheese
  • A response to a curious reader regarding the presence of bacteria in raw-milk cheese
  • Our quarterly spotlight on gourmet retailer-this month, The Pasta Shop in Oakland CA.

 NEW & NOTEWORTHY

It has been a whirlwind last couple months here at the CCC as our program continues to grow. Each week we expand available resources and welcome new members. We would officially like to welcome aboard: Bi-Rite Market, Capriole Goat Cheese, Coach Farm, Concord Cheese Shop, Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove Chevre, Grafton Village Cheese, the Luke Group, P.A. Bowen Farmstead, Redwood Hill Farm, and Rogue Creamery. We look forward to working closely with these and other members of the traditional cheese community in the months and years ahead.

 

Unfortunately, regulatory waters concerning traditional, artisan, and raw-milk cheese continue to stir but the CCC is more committed than ever to being an outspoken voice of consumer advocacy.

 

If you haven't been to our website for a while, we encourage you to take a look around. We have posted a number informative Hot Topic articles on diverse topics-wood board aging, raw-milk cheese, and non toxigenic E. coli- that have benefited from the expertise of CCC advisory board members Dr. Catherine Donnelly and Dr. Dennis D'amico. We have also added an "In the News" section which is regularly updated to keep you informed on what's hot off the press regarding traditional cheese.

Speaking of being in the news, the CCC is thrilled to have recently been featured in numerous publications such as: Cheese Market News, Cheese Reporter, Gourmet Retailer, Gourmet News, and Gourmet Business as well as in Slow Food USA's blog. The enthusiasm for the early efforts of the CCC has been positively inspiring. We look forward to bringing this energy to bear in our committed efforts to advocate and educate on behalf of traditional cheese and our beloved cheese community.

 

Advocacy and education are keystones of the CCC mission. To that end, the CCC was thrilled to make a significant fundraising contribution to an exciting microbiology of raw-milk cheese translation project. Sponsored by famed Neal's Yard Dairy, (whose co-owner David Lockwood sits on the CCC advisory board) the project is a step in an important direction for encouraging collaboration and dialogue regarding scientific and regulatory matters at an international scale.

 

Back here in New England, the CCC is engaging the local community around traditional cheese. We coordinated a cheese panel for the recent Boston Fermentation Festival that was smashing and tasty success and organized another panel for the past weekend's Yale Food Systems Symposium that took place in New Haven CT. Presenters included Mark Gillman who makes wonderful raw-milk cheese at Cato Corner Farm in central CT, Sylvia Sobocinski who oversees the fantastic selection of traditional cheese at Caseus Fromagerie in New Haven, and Dr. Ben Wolfe who conducts fascinating research on the microbiology of cheese at Tufts University. Each inspiring presentation emphasized the ways that traditional cheese is a means to a more sustainable, healthy, and delicious food future. We will keep you in the loop regarding similar panels in the near future and we encourage you to join the CCC for some serious food for thought. 

 

 



 FRESH FROM THE VAT

There has been a great deal of consternation in the traditional cheesemaking community of late regarding the presence of generic E. coli in raw-milk cheese. 
 
The FDA recently amended the level that was permissible such to the extent that many perfectly safe raw-milk cheeses no longer meet the criteria. These include time-honored examples of quality such as Roquefort, Tomme de Savoie, and Morbier. Unbeknownst to many consumers, these cheeses and others have not been allowed into the United States for many months. 
 
The CCC put together an informative Hot Topic brief on the matter here and the American Cheese Society released an update as well. Members of the CCC executive committee look forward to meeting with the FDA in December to represent consumer's rights to their cheese of choice. 



 SCIENCE AND NUTRITION

 

For the first edition of CheeseMatters we thought it was important to start back at the beginning. Over a decade ago, the Cheese of Choice Coalition sponsored an unbiased review of the FDA's Domestic and Imported Cheese Compliance Program's findings. This was the federal sampling program that sought quantitative data regarding the risk profile of raw-milk cheese in relationship to possible regulatory changes. Out of that review, came this important industry White Paper. After this independent analysis and the CCC's outspoken activism, the FDA's review of raw-milk regulations lost priority status and our community retained the right to choose our cheese of choice.

 

The authors, current CCC advisory board members Dr. Catherine Donnelly and Dr. Dennis D'amico, found that from 2004-2006 with a total of 17,324 cheese samples, E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and L. monocytogenes were present .09 - 2.4 percent of the time. Of those that tested positive an astounding 60% came from Mexico or Central America. Findings suggested that overall incidences of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and L. monocytogenes decreased over the sampling period concluding that control and regulatory compliance had increased. S. Aureus was the most common target pathogen in cheese but its presence it is very rarely great enough to be a health risk. The authors note that based on the data, regulatory focus should be given to Mexican-style soft cheese, particularly cheese which is produced in Mexico and Central America.

 

CheeseMatters will regularly feature scientifically-sound nutrition studies that speak to the health benefits of traditional cheese. A great place to start is a 2008 review of cheese and nutrition studies published in Dairy Science Technology. In this review, Walther et al. found that cheese is a rich source of essential nutrients; in particular, proteins, bioactive peptides, amino acids, fat, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. The authors emphasize that the high concentration of calcium in cheese is well known to contribute to the formation and maintenance of strong bones and teeth, but also shows a positive effect on blood pressure and helps in losing weight. The authors conclude that "cheese is an important dairy product and an integral part of a healthful diet due to its substantial contribution to human health."

 

Want to learn more about the safety and health of traditional cheese? The Research section of the Cheese of Choice Coalition website has a number of wonderful peer-reviewed articles confirming that not only does traditional cheese taste good but it's good for your health as well.  


   

WHAT WE'RE EATING: RECIPE GUIDE

Autumn climes have pleasantly arrived here in Boston, pushing out the humid heat, and bringing in not only crisp weather but a bountiful array of crisp produce at the market.  Moreover, many of the cheeses redolent of the lush Spring pastures have ripened and made their way to retailers. This is an exciting time of the year for tyrophiles (cheese lovers) everywhere. 

 

Two wonderful autumn-inspired recipes from two wonderful books have been popular items of late on CCC and Oldways tables. We hope that soon we will once again be able to compose Chester's salad with beautiful crumbles of Roquefort, but in the meantime we're happy to substitute another traditional sheep's-milk blue cheese like the Pyrenean Blue de Basque.  And in this cooler weather, warm toast with savory pesto and farm fresh eggs really hits the spot. Bon Appetit

 


Pink Lady Apple Salad with Radishes and Sheep's-Milk Blue Cheese


 

 

 

An apple a day? Not a problem- there are so many ways to enjoy the variety of heirloom apples that appear in the farmers' market every year. They each have their own unique qualities, from crisp and tart to dense and honeyed. At the end of the day, apple taste is a personal thing, and everyone has their favorites. Pink Lady apples are one of mine, a wonderful hybrid of Lady Williams and Golden Delicious that captures the best qualities of both.

 

This salad is made up of sweet apples, peppery radishes, and buttery rich blue cheese, which is a picnic classic. Bleu de Basques Brebis is an artisanal sheep's milk blue from the French Pyrenees, and quite a complex-flavored cheese. Bleu d'Auvergne or Roquefort would be good substitutes.

 

If blue cheese isn't your thing, a semihard sheep's-milk cheese like Abbaye de Belloc from the Benedictine monks of the French Pyrenees, Petit Basque, or any young pecorino would also do nicely here.

 

 

Serves: 4

 

3 crisp, sweet apples such as Pink Lady, washed but not peeled

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

8 small rainbow or French breakfast radishes, with fresh green tops, if available

4 oz/115g Blue de Basques Brebis or other crumbly blue cheese

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Flaky sea salt

2 tsp wildflower honey

 

 

Cut the apples in half, then remove the core and seeds with a melon baller or small spoon. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, cut the apples into slices about 1/8 in thick Put the apples slices in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice to prevent them from browning.

 

Using the knife or mandolin, cut the radishes into very thin rounds and add to the bowl with the apples. Rinse the radish tops thoroughly, if using, tear into bite-size pieces, and add to the bowl. Crumble the blue cheese into the bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and a good pinch of salt and gently toss everything together. Throw in some whole radishes if you have some particularly beautiful specimens.

 

Divide among four plates, drizzle the honey over each salad, and serve.

 

 

From THE CHEESEMONGER'S SEASONS by Chester Hastings, Photographs by Joseph de Leo 2014

Used with Permission from Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco.

Visit www.ChronicleBooks.com.

 

 

 

 

Manchego and Marcona Almond Pesto

 




Rich sheep's milk cheese pairs well with roasted almonds. In this Spanish twist, the two come together with peppery arugula and lemon zest to make a bright tasting pesto that is perfect for linguini with shrimp, baked fish, or roasted cherry tomatoes and olives tossed with penne. For breakfast, I love to spread this pesto on toast and top it with a soft-boiled egg.

 

 

Makes 1 cups

 

3 ounces arugula (about 2 cups, packed)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

cup roasted Marcona almonds

pound Manchego, grated (1 cups)

2 small garlic cloves

Sea salt, to taste

cup extra-virgin olive oil


 

Place everything but the olive oil in a food processor or blender and combine until roughly chopped. Then, with the blade running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture is well combined. For a rough pesto, use a mortar and pestle.

 

Note: Marcona almonds are available at many grocery and specialty food stores. If you can't find them, substitute toasted almonds, preferably skinless.

 

 

Recipe reprinted with permission from DI BRUNO BROS. HOUSE OF CHEESE 2013 by Tenaya Darlington, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Photo Credit: Jason Varney

 

 


ASK THE EXPERT

  

I know very little about cheese but the fact that some cheesemakers use "raw" milk caught my attention. How do you ensure any bacteria is killed? - J.A.

  

  

A very good question J.A. and a very common query from those new to traditionally produced cheese.

 

You're right, at first glance there does seem to be a conflict between raw-milk cheese and the conventional approach to risk management in contemporary dairy food production-pasteurization. Bacteria are bad right? Shouldn't they be eradicated? Don't they make us sick?  

 

The truth is, cheese, like any fermented food (wine, beer, bread, sauerkraut, etc), is a complex interaction between raw ingredients and the natural microbes in our ambient environment. It is the labor of microscopic bacteria that convert fluid milk into the healthy, safe, and preserved product known as cheese. In reality, very few bacteria are "bad," i.e. pathogenic, and the presence of "good" bacteria in cheese actually help ensure that the product remains safe to consume by outcompeting the undesirables (it's the principle of competitive exclusion, and while it's been known intuitively to traditional fermenters for a long time, contemporary science increasingly back it up).

 

Traditional cheesemaking, often referred to as milk's leap towards immortality, was a way of preserving fluid milk that in the millennia before refrigeration was prone to spoilage in just a few short days. The presence of good bacteria, and generally also salt and a low pH, allowed the highly nutritious but highly-perishable substance that is milk to be an important provision in many cultures months and even years after the cows, or goats, or sheep were milked. And in the form of traditional cheese, this is also a tasty provision.

 

Not only is raw-milk cheese (when thoughtfully made, according to established best-practices) safe to eat, it is delicious and nutritious. Natural bacteria in raw milk, and the other microflora present in dairy before heat-treatment, lend a great deal of the flavor to the final product that is all but eliminated when the milk is "cooked." What's more, there is an expanding body of literature that suggests that food rich in probiotics, i.e. cheese, yoghurt, and other fermented foods, are really quite nutritious, providing essential vitamins and minerals and potentially helpful with respect to allergies, asthma, and a host of other health concerns.

  

 

Learn more about raw milk cheese here 

    


COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

 

The Pasta Shop

Retailer - Oakland, California

 

 

 

While in San Francisco recently I had the good fortune to visit renowned gourmet grocery The Pasta Shop. Just across the bay in Oakland, The Pasta Shop is a specialty food mecca well worth a short trip on the BART.  Homemade and directly-imported pasta, on-site butchered meat, artisan baked goods, and craft coffee, are a few of their many specialties. But the selection of traditional cheese, expertly cared for, is to my (potentially-biased) mind the reason The Pasta Shop shines.

 

Juliana Uruburu, director of the cheese program and prominent member of the American cheese community, gave me the grand tour de fromage. Whether it's artisan wheels from the British Isles or delightful wedges from the Swiss Alps, when it comes to traditional cheese The Pasta Shop's selection is inspiring. What's more, should the massive cheese wall prove daunting, the counter staff are some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable mongers in the business. Juliana and chief cheesemonger Alma have each been behind the counter for more than twenty years.

 

Rather than something from the Old World, it was Red Hawk, an American cheese that I had to bring back to Boston. Juliana explained that the draught plaguing northern California has caused a drastic decline in the availability of organic cow's milk. As a result, cheeses like Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk that are made from beautiful organic milk are increasingly hard to find. As my Oldways colleagues back home in Boston can attest, that's a darn shame because Red Hawk is a most amazing combination of sweet, savory, funky and unctuous.

 

Next time you're in the Bay Area, be sure to check out The Pasta Shop. Grab a coffee, fresh baguette, and chunk of traditional cheese, head down to nearby FROG Park, and nestle into a picnic amongst the redwood groves. 


 

 


  Thank You


Sincerely,

Sara Baer-Sinnott
President
Oldways 




Brad Jones

Program Manager, Cheese of Choice Coalition
brad@oldwayspt.org


To fi
nd even more information and delicious recipes, please visit: 

 Cheese of Choice Coalition 

            

 

Let the old ways be your guide to  good health and well-being.

 www.oldwayspt.org       

 

       

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