Spring 2015                            

In This Issue

New & Noteworthy
Fresh from the Vat
Tips from the Experts
Recipe Guide
>Meet our Director

Community Spotlight

Friends of Traditional Cheese

The Cheese of Choice Coalition is excited to bring you the Spring edition of our quarterly CheeseMatters newsletter. Inside you will find:

  • "Fresh from the Vat" news of interest for our cheese community
  • Two great Spring-inspired recipes incorporating traditional cheese
  • The introduction of our new Program Director
  • Our quarterly spotlight on a gourmet retailer - this month, Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, CA.

You can now follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure to use our HT #cheesecoalition to draw our attention. We also would like to hear from you, please consider taking our short Raw Milk Cheese Day Appreciation Day survey


Did you know that cheese is healthy? Of course you knew that. However, you will be surprised by how many ways that is true. New on our website is a new installment of our Hot Topics. This time we delve into the Health and Nutrition Benefits of Traditional Cheese.


Our resident Registered Dietitian at Oldways, our parent organization, confirms, "scientific studies reveal that when consumed in moderation, cheese is a delicious ways to add healthy fats, mineral, vitamins, and probiotics to your diet." You can download the full report with information on Heart Health, Type 2 Diabetes, and Weight from our website.


Also on the website you will find downloadable reports on Wood Aging, E. Coli, Raw Milk, and Traditional Vats. They are a quick read that will add to your general knowledge on the many ways traditional cheese is worth knowing about.


Here at the Cheese of Choice Coalition, we are also excited to welcome Carlos Yescas, as our new Program Director. You will be hearing soon from him. He is planning new and exciting ways to make your membership more valuable. Please consider joining us and support the work we do to promote traditional cheeses.


Did you know that microbes make the cheese? Yes, that is what the American Society For Microbiology published in its most recent FAQ on cheese. The report published February 2015, and available free online, introduces a host of ways in which microorganisims lead the way to healthy, delicious, and varied cheese.


We learn from this publication that "Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus helveticus, and Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. are associated with Swiss- and Italian-type cheeses." While Lactococcus lactis and Leuconostoc mesenteroides are integral part of making Cheddar and Gouda style cheeses. Even the ammonia smell of some of cheeses can be attributed to the presence of microbes. Trust us, after reading the entire booklet, you will never see moldy cheese the same way.


No time to read the report? Why not download this engaging episode of Gastropod. The host interviews MIT Anthropologist Heather Paxson (also a member of our Advisory Board), cheese expert and University of Vermont professor Paul Kindstedt, and Tufts University microbiologist Benjamin Wolfe on cheese, history, and science.


You can find out more from Harvard University's Rachel Dutton (also on our Advisory Board) and Benjamin Wolfe in the academic journal Cell (Vol. 158, Issue 2, p422-433) published on July 17, 2014.


On a similar vein, and a great resource for all those of you studying for the ACS Cheese Professional Certification exam, we recommend Cheese and Microbes, edited by Catherine Donnelly (yes! she is also on our Board). Remember to visit our Bookshelf section. Purchases made on Amazon directed from our website generate a small percentage for our programming. We are constantly updating this section and hope it becomes a great resource for you. If you would like to recommend us a book to include, please email us



Experts share some of their cheese knowledge:


"Early in my cheese education, I heeded frequent urgings to avoid any cheese with traces of ammonia odor. It is true that too much ammonia is associated with putrefaction, but in small dosages it is absolutely no problem, and likely indicates a cheese that has reached a mature stage and may even be perfectly ripe. If a tightly wrapped cheese smells of ammonia, it might simply be asking for a breath of fresh air. The ammonia may be coming from the outer layer of the rind and may very quickly dissipate when the cheese is unwrapped. By the same token, there is a point at which a cheese is overly ammoniated - it is dead, gone, suffocated beyond hope for resuscitation. If a cheese remains hard, bitter, and riddled with ammonia even after it's been allowed to air out, this is probably the case." Max McCalman and David Gibbons, The Cheese Plate (2002).



Summer is almost here! This winter in New England was brutal and gave us plenty of options to stay indoors and have fondue dinners. However, we are not ready to give out our melted cheese just yet. So, we found a Mediterranean inspired recipe to send a farewell to our melted cheese craving.


How do dates and mozzarella sound to you? Good? Then try this Medjool Date and Caramelized Onion Flat Bread Pizza courtesy of our friends at Bard Valley Natural Delights. 




The cheese in this recipe can be replaced with any other melting cheese. For something more delicate, try Aged Goat Milk Cheddar by Redwood Hill Farm. Another option could be keeping the mozzarella and adding some Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue once the flatbreads come out of the broiler.  


Also with the nice weather is time to invite people over for a delightful brunch. Here is our suggestion with polenta and goat cheese.






2 cups vegetable oil (for frying), plus more for greasing pan

1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium-size onion)

1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal

2 teaspoons sugar

Salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

4 cups chicken stock

¼ cup heavy cream



1 cup milk

½ cup heavy cream

4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

Cayenne pepper, to taste

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice



1 pound asparagus, trimmed of tough ends

6 fresh eggs

Fresh parsley, roughly chopped, for garnish



Lightly oil a quarter sheet pan. In a small bowl, combine the onion, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and pepper. In a small saucepan, combine the stock and cream, heating the mixture to just under a boil. Whisk the dry ingredients into the saucepan of liquids, lower the heat, and cook until very thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour the polenta onto the oiled half sheet pan, pressing into an even layer. Chill for 4 to 6 hours or until completely firm.


When thoroughly chilled, cut the polenta into about 3-inch-size triangles. Pour the 2 cups of oil into a medium skillet set over high heat. Place a few pieces of polenta into the hot oil, frying on both sides until golden brown, 45 seconds per side. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon, and drain on a wire rack. Continue with remaining polenta. Drain the excess oil from the pan, and wipe clean. Set pan aside to sauté the asparagus.



In a small saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a low simmer. Add the goat cheese, cayenne, garlic, and mustard, whisking until combined. Using an immersion blender in the pan or transferring the sauce to the pitcher of a regular blender, process the mixture until smooth. While blending, gradually add the olive oil and the lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and simmer on low until it has thickened and reduced by a quarter, about 20 minutes.



In the polenta pan, sauté asparagus until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan.

In the same pan, fry the eggs to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

On a plate, arrange a couple of pieces of polenta, and top with goat cheese sauce. Pair with a few stalks of asparagus topped with a single fried egg. Continue with remaining ingredients to fill six plates. Garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.


Recipe by Chef Sonya Coté, Photograph by Jody Horton, originally published by Culture Magazine.


Carlos recently joined the Cheese of Choice Coalition, as our new program director. He will be developing new programming and international events seeking to support the production and appreciation of artisan and traditional cheesemaking.


Carlos' career in cheese began at Sheridan's Cheesemongers where he worked the counter and sold from a stand at the weekend Galway Farmer's Market (Ireland.) Since 2009, he has served as one of 14 supreme judges at the World Cheese Awards, and in 2011 was inducted as a member of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers.


At New York University's Food Studies department he taught a graduate level class on food regulation and law. In addition, he has conducted extensive doctoral research on the principals and regulations of cheese at the New School for Social Research.


As an entrepreneur, Carlos co-founded Lactography, the first artisan cheese distribution company in Mexico, and, in 2014, opened QuesoStore, in Mexico City. Carlos' book on Mexican cheese traditions, Quesos Mexicanos was published in 2013 by Larousse, and was awarded second place for best cheese book at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards 2014. Carlos is a frequent speaker on food in a variety of venues, including The Basque Culinary Center, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Mesamerica, as well as the New York Public Library.


Carlos holds a Master of Laws from the National University of Ireland, a Master of Philosophy in politics from the New School for Social Research in New York, and a bachelor's degree in business from Endicott College in Massachusetts. He previously worked in diplomacy and international relations, in posts at the Consulate of Mexico in Boston, the United Nations Development Programme, and at the International Organization for Migration in New York.


This past March, Carlos was named as one of the "50 hottest places, people and trends in food" by the Guardian UK Observer Food Monthlymagazine for 2015, and his work is the subject of an episode of A Taste of Mexico (10th Season) that airs on PBS and hosted by chef Rick Bayless.


His favorite cheeses are: Oaxaca, Camembert, Grayson, Appenzeller, and Shropshire Blue.


As we welcome Carlos, we also say a bittersweet farewell and thanks to Brad Jones, who built a strong foundation for the Cheese Coalition to grow from. Brad left in May to follow his passion, and is beginning his PhD studies in anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis.




Bi-Rite Market

San Francisco, California




Bi-Rite Market is one of the finest gourmet groceries on the West Coast. Located in San Francisco's Mission District at 3639 18th Street and their new location in 550 Divisadero Street. The Bi-Rite Family of Businesses includes the Market, Bi-Rite Creamery, Bi-Rite Catering, Bi-Rite Farms, and 18 Reasons, all operating with the distinct mission of creating community through food. 


Chef and Owner Sam Mogannam brings a chef's perspective from years of running his own restaurant: treat customers as guests in your own home, pay meticulous attention to detail in how you prepare and serve your food, and search never-endingly for the finest ingredients from the bounty available in Northern California. Bi-Rite Market is exceptionally committed to traditional cheese and offers a tremendous selection produced in small batches using old-world methods from Northern California and beyond. Sam's family has owned the market in the Mission District since 1964.




Sara Baer-Sinnott

Carlos Yescas
Program Director, 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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