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The Whey of the Curd

Welcome to a new blog that explores the fascinating and delicious world of artisanal cheese and other delights.

My passion is cheese.  I work with it, eat it, and literally talk about it ‘til the proverbial cows come home.  And with cheese comes an appreciation of dairy animals, farmers, cheesemakers and the land.

I’m addicted to all things cheese.  There is evidence that cheese addiction comes about through the naturally occurring opiates found in cow's milk--or the milk of any other species, for that matter.  Milk contains a protein called casein, which breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates, called casomorphins. 

Scientific reasoning aside, cheese makes me feel good. It makes my mouth and taste buds happy.  I notice that it makes other people a bit fanatical as well.  But my fascination doesn’t end with the cheese board.   

Wine is another amazing gift of terroir.  Wait, huh? The concept of terroir in wine making denotes the special characteristics that the geography, geology, and climate of a certain place bestow upon particular varieties of grapes. It extends to cheese as well. Think about it.  Agricultural sites in the same region share similar soil, weather conditions, and farming techniques, which all contribute to the unique qualities of the crop, or in the case of cheese--milk. Terroir can be very loosely translated as "a sense of place.”  Each cheese has a unique fingerprint of the land, the milk, the skill of the cheesemaker, and the caves in which it is aged.

The pairing of fermented curds with fermented grapes is another area of interest that I have been cultivating for the last 6 years.  There is nothing cooler or more gastronomically rewarding than sipping and nibbling your way through a dazzling array of artisan cheeses matched with the perfect wine or spirit. That’s why I love teaching classes about cheese.  I get to eat, drink, and pontificate with the cheese curious about why this ancient food stuff is just so darn amazing.

I learned all about cheese in the caves of Artisanal Premium Cheese Center in New York where I trained as an intern, learning from some of the best experts in the business. My newfound passion incited me to enroll in the master series at Artisanal, eventually working as a culinary advisor and then becoming a member of its teaching faculty as a fromagère.

To me, cheese is more than just something good to eat. It’s a living, breathing food that both sates and delights the appetite. Cheese is a connection with early humanity and civilization.

This blog will endeavor to share bits and pieces of curd-worthy news. I also want to dish about other great things going on in the world of food, entertaining and anything else that I, frankly, find interesting.

Ultimately, I hope to hear from you. What do you want to know about cheese? What are your favorites? Why do some cheeses smell so bad?  Anything goes. Perhaps we can all discover something new.   

Your friend in fromage, Erin Hedley, aka La Dame du Fromage, LLC

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Erin Hedley December 06, 2011 at 10:04 PM
My suggestion would be to visit Walter Stewart's market since they are carrying a few selections from Artisanal Cheese Center, where I learned my craft. They also have a few from other American artisanal cheesemakers, such as Jasper Hill. Another option would be Whole Foods...they have a quite a few great varieties of cheese such as Piave, Mountain Gorgonzola, aged Goudas, Ossau-Iraty, and Hudson Valley Camembert.
L Smith January 16, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Great suggestions Erin. I love your platters both in taste and presentation! Is there a difference between hard and soft cheeses in regard to calories and fat content?
Erin Hedley January 17, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Yes...though most would think that the gooey, decadent triple and double-creme cheeses like Brillat-Savarin or Saint Andre are more fattening, ounce per ounce a harder cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Cheddar has more fat and calories. This is due to the fact that the softer cheeses have more water/moisture content than the drier cheeses which are more dense and concentrated.
Joaquin Marietta September 22, 2012 at 06:01 PM
My favorite cheese is the packet included in the box of Kraft macaroni and cheese that my friends and I ate everyday for lunch in high school while attending Mountain View High School in Mesa, Arizona in 1977. My question for you would be: Is this really cheese and if so, what variety? I also know someone who added hot sauce to this for better flavor.
Erin Hedley September 22, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Ha! A post from my dear childhood friend who has exposed me as a long-time user of the Kraft Mac and cheese. All kidding aside, I can tell u that there is actually some cheese in the strange, powdery, orange colored mix. Most of the powder consists of whey, which is the byproduct of the cheese making process. Other ingredients are milk protein, and calcium phosphate which gives the cheese sauce mix it's texture and taste of cheese. Cheese cultures are also in the mix adding to the impression of eating a cheesy type of sauce. I miss our Mac and cheese days back in AZ. Xxo

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