Winter 2015                            

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Friends of Traditional Cheese

The Cheese of Choice Coalition is excited to offer the Winter edition of our quarterly CheeseMatters newsletter. Inside you will find:
  • "Fresh from the Vat" news of interest to our cheese community
  • Information about the upcoming Raw-Milk Cheese Appreciation Day
  • Summaries of two scientific studies: one that examines the risks and benefits of raw-milk cheese and another that proves cheese is an integral part of a healthful diet
  • Two great Winter-inspired recipes incorporating traditional cheese
  • An interview with Zingerman's co-founder Ari Weinzweig
  • Our quarterly spotlight on a gourmet retailer- this month, Antonelli's Cheese Shop in Austin, TX

"The people that abandons its traditions is like a tree with rotten roots.  It ends up getting blown away by the wind."   Jose Ortega y Gasset


The Cheese of Choice Coalition has been hard at work creating education and advocacy programs about the importance of raw-milk, artisan, and traditional cheese. It has been a pleasure to see the program continue to grow and we are propelled ever forward by the energy and enthusiasm of the international artisan cheese community. We would like to officially welcome Farms for City Kids, Antonelli's Cheese, and The Vermont Cheese Council to our growing ranks. We look forward to working closely with them, and our other industry and enthusiast members, in the months and years ahead.


If you haven't stopped by the website recently, come on by and check it out. The Cheese Database recently went live and it features the many fantastic artisan cheeses produced by our members-including downloadable PDF's with in-depth information about each cheese. We encourage you to print your favorites and use them to help put together the perfect cheese plate for your next picnic or party.


In collaboration with our scientific advisory committee, we also published a Hot Topic article on traditional cheesemaking vat technologies. Piggybacking on the unfounded challenges to the safety of wood board aging of this summer past, this Hot Topic emphasizes a science-based understanding of what we already know to be true: wooden and copper vats are perfectly safe technologies for cheese and cheese making.


In line with our mission to bring science-based understanding of traditional cheese to a broad audience, the CCC coordinated a panel presentation for the Yale Food Systems Symposium. Follow the link to learn more about the tireless efforts at Cato Corner Farm, Caseus Fromagerie, and Tufts University to take Traditional Cheese: Back to the Future.


The CCC is currently dotting I's and crossing t's on a Science of Artisan Cheese session for the 2015 American Cheese Society conference this summer. We're not at liberty to share details just yet, but this is sure to be a rousing and informative session and we hope you'll be able to join us in Providence from July 29 to August 1.




Join us on Saturday, April 18th

We're throwing an international party for raw-milk cheese. Raw-Milk Cheese Appreciation Day, in association with the prestigious Guilde des Fromagers, will be taking place at hundreds of producers, retailers, and restaurants worldwide. 

The idea is to bring POSITIVE attention to raw-milk cheese and to the fine folks who day in and day out make it, sell it, and serve it. Cheese enthusiasts and those who are curious about raw-milk cheeses will be able to take part in a wide variety of creative (and delicious) events that are in the works across the U.S. and around the world. 

There will be creamery tours and tastings in Oregon as well as special classes in Vermont. There will be producers sampling cheese at retail stores in San Francisco and cheesemongers sharing their love of fromage au lait cru in Paris and Boston. Check out the website to learn more about what's happening in your neck of the woods, it's a celebration not to be missed. 

Don't see an event in your area? Get in touch and we'll brainstorm ideas to celebrate in your local community.




We are thrilled to announce that raw-milk cheese is finally being welcomed to Australia. This is terrific news for traditional cheese enthusiasts. Australia has been stymied for decades by particularly draconian food safety laws. Although the EU, USA, and Canada face their own struggles with federal regulators over the right to unpasteurized dairy products, Australia has faced exceptional challenges.


The former law allowed just a handful of hard cheeses to be produced with raw milk in Australia, and European imports were permitted only with special exemption. France's famous Roquefort for instance, was only recently green-lighted for sale after a decade-long battle in court (read more about Will Studd, Australia's raw-milk cheese evangelist and a CCC board member, and his long fought battle here.)


New regulations will provide the opportunity for a domestic cheesemaking industry to flourish. Accordingly, much of the advocacy for new regulations has come not from eager urban eaters (though they are legion) but from semi-rural cheese producers. This ever-growing industry wishes to make distinctive artisan cheese that is rooted in Australian soil-cheese that fetches a high premium in the marketplace and stimulates the revitalization of landscapes and rural communities. By spotlighting the quality of the milk through raw-milk cheese, Australian artisans will be able to let their dairy truly shine.


It remains unclear what style of cheeses will be able to meet the stringent quality assurance standards the new law puts into place, and it' difficult to predict what it will mean in terms of foreign imports, but as Will Studd says, "this is a very positive step in the right direction." After decades of dispute between cheese enthusiasts and federal regulators, things appear to be finally looking up in the land down under.


Bringing the attention back stateside, PBS has over the last several months aired a series called Food Forward. This fantastic program asks the very important question; what went wrong with our food system and what are we doing to fix it.  Each episode spotlights a different segment of the food industry and highlights the individuals and companies who are nourishing communities, environments, bodies, and appetites. A recent episode entitled Modern Milk features Jasper Hill Farm, an artisan operation in the pastoral hills of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom that has extraordinary commitment to traditional production practices and to making the highest quality cheese.  As farm co-owner Mateo Kehler says, "We're taking a step back in time, we're doing things on our farm that are old school...our commitment to producing high-quality raw milk is the foundation of our cheese." Check out the episode, and this very well made series, and learn what you can do to help us (the CCC, Oldways, and America-at-large) right the wayward ship.


Last but not least, the American Academy of Microbiology just released a fascinating FAQ Microbes Make the Cheese report that is must read for cheese lovers- enthusiast and expert alike. This terrific introduction offers intriguing insights into the history and science of "natural" cheese and cheesemaking. The science of the microbial ecologies at work within artisan cheese isn't always the most approachable to a lay audience; however, the authors (including several CCC scientific advisors) have rendered a digest that is, appropriately enough given the topic, very easy to digest. Exploring starter cultures, development through maturation, rind composition, organoleptic properties, health factors and more, this concise report is well worth its weight in gouda. 



In anticipation of our upcoming Raw-Milk Cheese Appreciation Day, we wanted to share a very recent study that explored the microbiological benefits of traditional cheese. The objective of this 2014 study was to review the sensory, hygiene, and potential health benefits of traditional cheese. Although there has been much debate about the pro's and con's of raw-milk cheese, few scientific studies have objectively explored its risks and benefits. The review highlights that the diverse microflora in traditional cheese, a product of the use of raw-milk, is intrinsic to its exceptional sensory characteristics. Moreover, this study emphasizes that traditional production practices such as the use of wooden equipment and some microbial consortia found in raw-milk cheese have a positive effect on cheese safety. It also highlights the strong association between the consumption of raw-milk/cheese and anti-allergenic properties. The authors note,


"Flavour is more intense and rich in raw milk cheeses than in processed ones. This is mainly because an abundant native microbiota can express in raw milk cheeses, which is not the case in cheeses made from pasteurized or microfiltered milk. Compared to commercial strains, indigenous lactic acid bacteria isolated from milk/cheese, and surface bacteria and yeasts isolated from traditional brines, were associated with more complex volatile profiles and higher scores for some sensorial attributes. The ability of traditional cheeses to combat pathogens is related more to native antipathogenic strains or microbial consortia than to natural non-microbial inhibitor(s) from milk."


In recent years, dairy has been under attack for its high saturated fat content. But, as this study shows, saturated fat found in milk and cheese may actually help protect against Type 2 Diabetes. Saturated fats are chains of carbon atoms and these chains have either an odd or an even number of carbon atoms. In this study, researchers look at the effect of even number chains versus odd number chains on the risk for type 2 diabetes. Looking at the diet of more than 340,000 people, the researchers find that foods containing saturated fats with an even number of carbon atoms, such as red meat and alcohol, increased the risk for type 2 diabetes. In comparison, foods containing saturated fats with an odd number of carbon atoms, such as cheese, were actually protective against type 2 diabetes. The researchers conclude the cheese should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. 


Another study showed that dairy is associated with heart health.To determine the relationship between heart disease risk and dairy intake, data was taken from a survey administered to 1,352 participants by the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg study.  Researchers evaluated participants' risk through a total cardiovascular health score (CHS).  They found that those who consumed five or more servings a week of whole fat milk, yogurt, and cheese had a significantly higher CHS than those who consumed these products less frequently.  This positive relationship was also observed with total dairy intake, but not total low-fat dairy intake.  This evidence supports the notion that consuming dairy products on a regular basis can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  


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.




A lot of great attention is being paid to the Mediterranean Diet of late and for good reason; reports continue to come out linking the diet to good health and overall wellbeing. Here at Oldways, we're celebrating the 22nd year of our Mediterranean Diet Pyramid and along with it significant changes in the way Americans eat and think about their food-when the pyramid first came out, for instance, olive oil was still an obscure ethnic food and now rightfully has a permanent place in the majority of pantries in many countries.


Cheese has always had an important place in the Mediterranean Diet. From harder cheeses like pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano to soft cheeses such as mozzarella and fresh chevre, cheese is an important staple in this eminently sensible, and extremely delicious, way of eating. In Greece, yoghurt and feta reign supreme.  This recipe for Paximadia is from The Oldways Table, a fabulous collection of essays and recipes with contributions from around the food world. I'd encourage you to seek out a raw-milk feta to celebrate Raw-Milk Cheese Appreciation Day in April-Redwood Hill Farm in Northern CA makes an absolutely spectacular goats-milk version.


The second recipe is a delicious hybrid from a bit further north, straddling the traditional culinary cultures of the French Savoie and the German Black Forest region.  A hearty mountain dish perfect for these lingering winter climes (here in New England especially), Spaetzle is in the macaroni and cheese family but boasts a traditional noodle pasta as the base. It is absolutely terrific with a side of thinly sliced cured meat, especially the traditional air-cured beef known as bundnerfleish. The recipe suggests Beaufort, but any traditional raw-milk alpine cheese such as Comté or Gruyère would make an exceptional substitute as well. 








During our many visits to Greece over the last decade-in Athens, Crete, Chios, and Lesbos-we were always delighted to find paximadia on the menu. It's the Greek's version of an open-faced tomato and cheese sandwich-traditionally it's made by piling up tomatoes and feta cheese on top of a barley rusk, and drizzling it with olive oil and a sprinkle of oregano. Its American version is perfect for the family table-lunch, dinner, or after-school snack. 



Serves: 4 to 6



6 whole-wheat bagels or rolls
1 ½ pounds of ripe tomatoes or 1 (20oz) can tomatoes, drained
½ cup fresh oregano and/or majoram
½ pound feta cheese, crumbled
extra virgin olive oil


Toast the bagels. Pile the tomatoes, herbs, and feta cheese on the bagel and finish with the olive oil. Serve immediately. 



From The Oldways Table by K. Dun Gifford and Sara Baer-Sinnott





Spaetzle with Fried Onions and Beaufort d'Alpage




When summer arrives in the French Alps, the herds and flocks of mountain animals are moved to graze on higher pastures, where the grasses are peppered with high-altitude wildflowers. It is believed that this movement creates a richer, creamier milk, not to mention the incredible flavors imparted from the special diet.


While most mountain cheeses are made down in the lower valleys, there are some that are actually made and aged in small chalets high up in the mountains where the shepherds, cheese makers, and even the animals sleep at night. These cheeses are called "Alpage."


While there are outstanding Beauforts to be had year-round, the Alpage variety is certainly worth trying when you see it. The wildflower and grassy flavors are immediately apparent, and deepen the complexity of this otherwise very simple classic German dish.



Serves: 4 to 6 



For the spaetzle:
3 cups/385 g all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 large eggs

1½ cups/360 ml whole milk


8 tbsp/115 g unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
8 oz/225 g Beaufort d'Alpage or Gruyère de Comté cheese



To make the spaetzle: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 2 tsp salt, and a few grindings of pepper.


Make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the center of the well and add the milk. Using a fork, beat the eggs and milk together. Continue beating, and begin to pull flour from the sides of the well a little at a time. Gradually add more flour from the well to the mix as you work, until all of the flour is incorporated. (You may need to add a touch more flour or milk; you want a sticky batter that is still loose enough to push through the holes of a spaetzle maker.)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add a small handful of salt. Have ready a small bowl of water and ice.


When the water is boiling, put about ½ cup/115 g of the batter in the spaetzle maker or a colander.


Using a rubber spatula, push the batter through the holes directly into the boiling water and cook until the spaetzle float and look plump and firm, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a strainer or slotted spoon, plunge the spaetzle into the ice water to stop the cooking, then immediately drain and transfer to a large bowl. Repeat to cook the remaining batter. (The spaetzle can be made to this point up to 3 hours ahead. Toss with a little melted butter or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to prevent them from sticking and set aside at room temperature.)


Next, fry the onions. Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are deep golden brown and crispy, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.


When ready to serve, melt the remaining 6 tbsp/85 g butter in another large sauté pan over high heat. Add the spaetzle and sauté, shaking the pan from time to time, allowing little golden spots to appear here and there. Remove from the heat, crumble the cheese over the spaetzle, and stir to combine well. Transfer in to a warmed serving dish, top with the crispy onions, and serve immediately.


From THE CHEESEMONGER'S SEASONS by Chester Hastings, Photographs by Joseph de Leo ©2014
Used with Permission from Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco.







Ari Weinzweig 



CCC)  Zingerman's Delicatessen has become a household name and mecca for food and cheese lovers.  Now more than thirty years ago, what inspired you to open up shop?


ARI)  Paul and I had worked together in a restaurant here in town.  After about two years there he left to open Monahan's Seafood Market here in town but he and I stayed friends.  After managing kitchens for that restaurant group for a few years (four years total), I decided that it was time for me to move on.  Coincidentally Paul called a few days after I had given my notice to ask if I wanted to talk about doing something together in a small building that was opening up near the fish market.  We'd talked off and on about opening a deli - he had grown up in Detroit and I had grown up in Chicago where you could get good deli food right on the go!   And on March 15, 1982 we opened.  Just me and Paul, two employees, 29 seats, 25 sandwiches, some cheese, some bread, some salami and smoked fish.  



CCC)  With humble beginnings as a neighborhood deli, how did specialty foods and specifically artisan cheese become such a strong focus?


ARI)  We've always been focused on full-flavored and traditional foods.  That was true from the beginning!  And it's still true now.  Over 33 years we've learned a LOT which of course means that we've been able to raise the quality bar on everything we make and sell.  



CCC) You were awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Cheese Society in August. CONGRATULATIONS! How have you seen the American cheese community grow through the years and what has motivated you to invest so much passion and energy into it?


ARI)  It has changed enormously!  When we opened in '82 there were very few American artisan cheesemakers left from the "old days".  A few that come to mind - Vella cheese and Franlin Peluso in California; the Widmer family and Albert Deppeler in Wisconsin; Crowley and Grafton in Vermont. And a few folks who were just starting to make artisan cheese.  Laura Chenel comes to mind.  Paula Lambert, Vermont Creamery, Westfield Farms came along around that time as well.  I remember our first air-shipped order of Laura's goat cheese arriving at the Deli!   Back in '82 imports dominated.  Today there are so many good American cheeses that we can't even come close to stocking them all!



CCC)  You are an outspoken proponent of traditional and raw-milk cheese. Why are they important?


ARI)  Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, said, "The people that abandons its traditions is like a tree with rotten roots.  It ends up getting blown away by the wind."  We work hard to be true to tradition and that means, when we can, working with raw-milk cheese.  It's clear of course that one can make good cheese using both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk, and also bad cheese with both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk.  But as a broad general statement I think most folks in the artisan cheese world will agree that great raw-milk cheese is a pretty special thing.  Consider that the traditional cheese of Louis Pasteur's home region of Comté must still by law be made only with raw milk!



CCC) I love that you describe yourself as an anarcho-capitalist, which means among other things, that you believe in the importance of free choice. What is the relationship between cheese and choice?


ARI)  I've focused a lot on choice on an internal level.  To be mindful of the reality that we're all making choices all day long, often about things we don't even realize that we're doing.  Smiling or not smiling?  Being empathic or not, being kind or not, forgiving or not.  But clearly free choice in the physical world is of equal import.  Given that there seem to be so few real problems to come from properly made raw-milk cheese over the years it seems like the consumer ought to be able to the choose for his or herself.  If you look at all the things we're legally allowed to do that seem more dangerous than cheese . . . it seems very reasonable that consumers would get to make the call themselves to continue to enjoy some of the world's best cheese!



CCC) In your Lapsed Anarchist book series you talk about the overwhelming importance of vision, on both the professional and personal scale. Could you elaborate on what "vision" is and why it's important? What is your vision for the ideal future of traditional cheese?


ARI)  A vision as we define it here at Zingerman's, is a picture of what success looks like for us at a particular point in time in the future.  It's not just a set of financial targets, though it may include some numbers so that we have sense of scale, scope and clear sense of where we're headed.   Nor it is just nice platitudes or a couple of inspiring, but not particularly meaningful, phrases.   For us, an effective vision needs to be:


a) Inspiring to all that will be involved in implementing it.
b) Strategically sound. I.e. we actually have a decent shot at making it happen. 
c) Documented.
d) Communicated.


I've written a lot about it in Part 1 of the Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading series. 


My vision for traditional cheese?  That there is ever more well-made, traditional cheese produced, matured, sold and eaten in the US and around the world.  That in the process we've helped to restore sustainable agriculture in the countryside, helped consumers and chefs and caterers have access to some amazing, handcrafted, full flavored cheese.  That the cheesemakers and retailers and distributors involved are making a reasonable living doing it.  And that great cheese has become a well-accepted element of good American eating!



CCC) For individuals who want to help support traditionally produced cheese, traditionally produced foods in general, what can they do?


ARI)  Other than supporting the Cheese of Choice Coalition?  I guess buy and serve a lot of it!! And then certainly speak to local representatives.  And sing their praises far and wide!!



CCC) Like you, as a youth in the American Midwest I was much more likely to be found eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese than hand-crafted camembert and powdered parmesan than Parmigiano.  I hesitate to even call that stuff cheese these days, now that I've been exposed to the glories of traditionally produced, artisan versions. Do you have an all-time favorite traditional cheese recipe or pairing?


ARI)  Wow.  There are so many. 


Parmigiano Reggiano with a great honey
Fondue comtoise (made with Comté cheese).
Well made feta with watermelon
Aged Tuscan sheep cheese with pears.  




Antonelli's Cheese Shop

Retailer - Austin, Texas





John and Kendall Antonelli's artisan grocery is a genuine gourmet gem. Nestled into the historic Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin Texas, Antonelli's Cheese Shop focuses on sourcing the finest artisan cheese from near and far (domestic and imported) and providing the friendliest cut-to-order service around. Customers are not only allowed to sample, to "taste through the case" as it were, they're strongly encouraged to - artisan cheese varies from wheel to wheel, batch to batch, season to season and it's important to try before you buy.


Antonelli's specializes in cheese but the shop also boasts a terrific selection of specialty food items including craft beers, artisan charcuterie, and boutique wines. Many of their products come from small-batch producers from the Austin area - well known for its blossoming craft food scene - that if not exclusive are hard to find anywhere else. You can of course get all the other necessary accouterments as well; anything from membrillo to marmalade to marcona almonds.


These days, Antonelli's Cheese Shop consists of a retail store, a catering department, and a dedicated space for education and private events. Their roster of classes is exceptional and a great way to spend an evening - they include introductions to cheese (101 and 201), taste off's (pitting styles or cheesemaking regions against one another) and cheese pairings (with beer, or wine, or cider). The shop is celebrating its five-year anniversary this year, commemorating John and Kendall's leap-of-faith decision to pursue a passion for the glory that is great cheese.  


Of all the hundreds of retail stores that will be participating in Raw-Milk Cheese Appreciation Day, Antonelli's has planned some of the most creative events on the roster. During the day, a couple local raw-milk cheesemakers will be in the store sampling their wonderful wares. In the afternoon the store will be hosting a happy hour with a couple collaborating local restaurants. In the evening, they will be hosting a special class devoted specifically to raw-milk cheese. As if all that wasn't enough, they are also planning a special film screening of Artois the Goat at the local Alamo Draft House which will include a cheese tasting and beverage pairing. If you're in the Austin area on April 18I encourage you to check these events out. I'm thinking they very well might be worth the flight from Boston! 




  Thank You


Sara Baer-Sinnott

Brad Jones

Program Manager, Cheese of Choice Coalition

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.       



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