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Cheese Blog

Welcome to the Mandi Foods Cheese Blog

Jeff Shearer

Procurement Manager

Mandi Foods, Inc

 

BEER AND CHEESE PAIRINGS - SUMMER 2014

July 18, 2014

 

The explosion of the craft beer industry over the last two decades and the more recent artisan cheese movement have brought us great beers and even better cheeses. Beer and Cheese pairings are now becoming popular and more companies and restaurants are including them on their menus or websites.

I would like to highlight four craft brewers and four cheeses in pairings that can help you with entertaining during this summer season.

- Caldera Brewing Company – Ashland, Oregon

Caldera IPA – American style IPA with good hoppy flavor and body

41108 - Adams Reserve NY Extra Sharp Cheddar

 

These two work well together with their big flavors (sharp & hoppy) complementing each other

 

- Spoetzl Brewery Company – Shiner, Texas

 

Shiner Bock – American style dark lager with German specialty hops

20181 – Emmi Swiss Emmentaler

 

This mild nutty cheese pairs well with the mellow and smooth bock beer

 

- Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - Milton, Delaware

 

Indian Brown Ale – This ale combines 3 beers in one, scotch ale, IPA, and American brown ale

26053 – Dofino Gouda

 

The creaminess of the Gouda works great with the caramel notes of this brown ale

 

- Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company – Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

 

Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy – A traditional wheat beer with natural lemonade flavors.

40162 – BelGioioso Parmesan

 

These two Wisconsin companies produce great products. The sweetness of the shandy beer and the aged sharpness come together nicely.

 

 

GRILLING CHEESES

June 20, 2014

 

With the 4th of July is fast approaching, I wanted to highlight 4 of our cheeses to make your backyard cookouts a success for the holiday and throughout the summer. Everyone can throw a slice of American cheese on a burger, but the cheeses I will reference will show off your “inner foodie” and let your guests and family know that you are serious about food.

 

Naturally Good Kosher Sliced Muenster

This semi-soft cheese with a smooth texture is very mild in flavor and melts well. It is kosher, all natural, no preservatives, no animal rennet and 100% vegetarian.

 

Finlandia Imported Gouda Sliced

This Gouda is imported from Finland and is a smooth and creamy cheese that adds a rich and buttery taste to your burger. It is all natural, no artificial hormones added, naturally lactose free and gluten free.

 

Salemville Crumbled Blue Cups

This blue cheese is perfect to stuff your burger with bringing its earthy, pungent, and balanced flavor to your juicy burger. It is sustainably produced, rBGH free, and is an Amish handcrafted artisan cheese.

 

Adams Reserve New York Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sliced

This is another award winning cheese, taking 1st place at the 2010 American Cheese Society competition in the aged cheddar category. Made in Adams, New York, this cheddar is naturally aged over 12 months and is superbly sharp, yet creamy and smooth.

 

 

IRISH CHEESES

February 24, 2014

 

When St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, I reflect on my Irish heritage and time spent at my grandparent’s house. Traditional Irish fare would be served and my “Pap” would lead with the traditional Irish toast. “May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live”

 

Ireland has a long and storied cheese making tradition based on production from small dairy farms all over the country. The Irish Dairy Board was formed in 1961 to bring these small dairy farms together to sell cheese under one label, Kerrygold. The Kerrygold cheeses are carried in over 80 countries worldwide.

 

For St. Patrick’s Day we are carrying 4 Kerrygold cheeses which provide the opportunity to sample the diverse flavors and textures of fine Irish cheeses:

 

Vintage Cheddar

This Cheddar is matured for at least twelve months. During its aging process it is constantly monitored and graded to ensure only the best of class gets the “Vintage” name. It has a rich, rounded, and mature flavor with a firm, smooth body. This cheese is very versatile. Shred it into hearty potato chowder, slice and serve it with pears, or chunk it on a cheese board. Vintage Cheddar pairs nicely with Guinness Stout.

 

Dubliner

This cheese is difficult to describe. It has a harder texture, but with sweet and nutty undertones of Swiss and the robust flavor of aged Italian type cheeses. It is truly a unique cheese that you must taste to fully appreciate. Melt this cheese in sandwiches, grate over your favorite pasta, or enjoy it chunked with brown hearty bread. Dubliner pairs nicely with Murphy’s Irish Stout.

 

Blarney Castle

This natural semi-soft, part skim cheese is named after the famous Blarney Castle in County Cork. The lush fields provide this cheese with a rich and creamy taste that reminds you of a young Dutch Gouda. Serve over braised cabbage, grate over baked potato and add chives, or slice and add to walnut bread with chutney. Blarney Castle pairs well with Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale.


Irish Skellig

Skellig Sweet Cheddar is a 100% Natural Cheese, named after the Skellig Islands off of County Kerry, Ireland. Fields in which the cows graze provide very rich and creamy milk for this offering. It also has a tangy, sweet flavor. Add it to salads, sandwiches, soups, or cube and serve. Irish Skellig pairs well with Guinness Black Lager.

 

Great Cheeses for the Grill

  June 27, 2011

 

“Summer here, Summer not” was the huge wooden sign that hung at my Aunt Bee’s summer cottage in her screened in porch. I remember many hot summer nights as a kid staring at that sign, not realizing the play on words.

 

Our family picnics at the cottage throughout the summer always included the charcoal grill, where burgers were flipped regularly with lots of different cheeses and condiments to add variety to the meal. The upcoming 4th of July Holiday is a perfect opportunity to add sliced cheese to the classic burger.  We have many cheeses that will enhance your burger, bringing in flavors, from the sharp bite of cheddar, to the zing of zesty salsa jack, to the rich and bold taste of blue cheese.

 

I would like to highlight 3 of these cheeses that will make your grilling a “Success for the Season.”

 

1.) # 26504 – Pineland Farms Salsa Jack Cheese – 8 oz.

 

Pineland Farms Salsa Jack Cheese is their classic Monterey Jack with a southwestern-style salsa added to provide that zesty kick.  Pineland Farms produces award winning cheeses. Salsa Jack is one of their best, earning numerous awards since 2007, with a 3rd place award at the 2010 American Cheese Society competition.

 

Pineland Farms is located in New Gloucester, Maine. It is a nonprofit corporation that provides a venue that enriches the community through educational endeavors and demonstrates productive and responsible farming techniques. Their cheeses are handcrafted and sustainably produced, with no antibiotics or artificial growth hormones used in their milk production.

 

To learn more about Pineland Farms, please click on link below:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kg4COZXwGo

 

2.) # 20158 – Rosenborg Extra Creamy Danish Blue Cheese Sliced – 3.5 oz.

 

This cheese is manufactured using extra fresh cream for added richness and texture. It has a milder taste than traditional Danish blue cheeses, due to a higher fat content and the milder “blue” culture. It has a rich and aromatic flavor.

 

This cheese is the first ever of its kind. The process to slice this cheese was revolutionary with a package that is resealable. Thin slices of paper are interleaved between the slices.

 

3.) # 41100 – Adams Reserve New York Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sliced – 8 oz.

 

This is another award winning cheese, taking 1st place at the 2010 American Cheese Society competition in the aged cheddar category.  Made in Adams, New York, this cheddar is naturally aged over 12 months and is superbly sharp, yet creamy and smooth.

 

Cheese Tour of Switzerland

5/12/2011 to 5/16/2011

 

Day Five – 5/16/11 - Emmentaler Dairy in Affoltern – Bern

Our final day in Switzerland began with a bus transfer from Lucerne to Affoltern to tour an Emmentaler Dairy in the Emmental Valley. They have been making cheese here since the twelfth century.

This dairy is considered a show dairy.  A show dairy does produce cheese, but they also have a museum, market, gift shop, bakery, and other buildings on the grounds of the dairy. It is a destination for the public to learn more about the Emmental Valley and its cheese.

     

One of the most interesting areas of the dairy was the Herdsman’s Cottage of 1741. This is where they do cheesemaking on the open fire with a copper kettle. The procedure takes approximately two hours and results in two cheese wheels of product. This product is then sold in their market after proper aging. We tried some 4 month old product in the market and it had a very mild taste with a subtle hint of smoked hardwood.

The Emmentaler like the Gruyere is an AOC, Appelation d’Origine Controlee. This is an official certification protected by Swiss law. It has to be produced in this region and adhere to strict guidelines to be Emmentaler AOC.  It has to earn at least 18 out of 20 points after various quality checks to be considered. With this score, comes the distinctive label on top of the wheel with AOC and Emmentaler.  The diary mark with the individual number of the dairy is fused into the rind on the Emmentaler. You can trace it from its origin, simply by this 4 digit dairy number. A typical wheel of Emmentaler weighs around 100 kg.

     

There are around 180 experienced master cheesemakers using traditional methods and the original Emmentaler recipe, passed down through the generations.  Only fresh unpasteurized milk from the local region is used. It is this fresh milk which gives it the tang that it is known the world around. The milk comes from the cows which feed on the natural grasses or hay of the valley. Silage is not allowed for AOC certification.

Emmentaler has to mature at least 120 days by natural methods in cheese cellars or caves. It is during this aging process that the holes form and start to appear on the cheese. There are 4 ages of Emmentaler, 4 month, 8 month, 12 month, and 12 month – cave aged. The 4 month (classic) is the most popular and has a nutty and mild taste, with a natural golden yellow rind. The 8 month (reserve) has a tangy taste with a dark yellow rind. The 12 month (extra), has a strong and tangy taste with a dark brown rind. The 12 month cave aged, which spends at least 6 months in a cheese cellar and another 6 months in a natural rock cave is full flavored and has a dark brown to black rind.

     

After our tour we headed to the Swiss capital city of Bern. Here we got to see their government buildings and many landmarks. We walked all around the “Old Town”, which is where most of the shopping and parks are located. We saw the Parliament Building, the Clock Tower, Bear Park, and the Aare River, which runs through the city. In the Old Town, I did get to see where Albert Einstein lived from 1902 to 1909. His first writing on the Special Theory of Relativity dates from this time in Bern. There were many unique churches, bridges, and fountains on my traverse through the city. As we were leaving the city, we did pass an open air market that had many offerings, including a lot of local artisan cheese. It was a memorable day for sure.

As my trip to Switzerland is ending, it is hard to reflect on such wonderful 5 days spent in this lovely country. We did do a lot during these 5 days, but I find it better to get in as much as you can and sleep later (airplane ride back). I hope you enjoyed following along with me as we walked around Lucerne, visited the Kaltach Caves, took a cable car ride to Mount Pilatus, took in a traditional Swiss Folks music show, visited the village and dairy in Gruyeres, visited the woodcarvers of Brienz, took a train ride to Planalp, visited the Emmentaler dairy, and the Swiss capital city of Bern.

 

Day Four – 5/15/11 – Tourist Day – Brienz / Interlaken

Today was a day to play tourist and enjoy the sights and activities.

We took a bus from Lucerne over the Brunig Mountain pass to Brienz. In Brienz we visited a wood-carver factory named Jobin, toured the town and its quaint streets. We then headed to the train station Brienz Rothorn to take the railway up Mount Planalp. It was a steam locomotive and took us to lunch in a chalet at just over 4,000 ft. on the mountainside, just below the snow line. During lunch, it started to snow heavily, but did not affect our trip back down the mountain. The snow stopped, became sleet, then rain, then sunshine. It was safe to say we encountered all the mountain weather today.

     

 

We then headed to the town of Interlaken, which is between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. It is a popular tourist destination with grand hotels and exquisite shopping.

Tomorrow we head to an Emmentaler factory and dairy in the town of Affoltern.  After our tour and lunch, we then head to the Swiss Capital of Bern.

 

Day Three – 5/14/11

La Maison du Gruyere Dairy  and the village Gruyeres

My third day in Switzerland began with a drive from Lucerne to the village Gruyere, which is in the French speaking part of Switzerland.  They have been making cheese since at least 1115 AD in and around the small town of Gruyeres.  The cheese was given the name Gruyere for the first time around 1602.

Just outside the village we toured the La Maison du Gruyere Dairy. This dairy is referred to as a show dairy. It has a self-guided tour for the public, with a restaurant, museum, market, and gift shop on the grounds.

This show dairy was built to demonstrate cheese making and the importance of the AOC recognition of Gruyere cheese.  AOC means Appellation d’Origine Controlee, which is an indicator of quality and origin. It is only awarded to certain regional products and has its roots in a region that gives it its special character and taste. This label guarantees the authenticity and is made using traditional methods and procedures.  It was awarded this recognition in 2001.

To be Gruyere AOC, its origin must come from the cantons (district) of Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchatel, Jura and some municipalities in the canton of Berne in Switzerland. To authenticate that it is Gruyere AOC, the words, Le Gruyere AOC, are on the sides of the cheese and the traditional identification marker and dating are on the top of the cheese.

On the tour we learned their entire process from the milking of the cows to the final aging of the cheese.   The milk comes direct from the farms twice a day and the cows are fed on pasture in the summer or natural fodder without the addition of preserving agents during the winter. This fodder is usually the first two cuts of hay in the fall. The use of additives during the manufacturing and maturation process is strictly prohibited.

       

Gruyere  AOC is a mild, semi-salty cheese with dominant fruity flavors from its region. It is soft, but somewhat firm. The most popular Gruyere AOC is sometimes called classic and is aged 5 to 9 months. The other is called Reserve and is aged 10 months or more for a much stronger flavor.

This cheese pairs nicely with white wine or champagne. I paired mine with a local beer, called Eichhof Hubertus Dunkel, brewed right here in Lucerne. This dark beer had the perfect caramel and woody notes to be paired with Gruyere AOC.  In recipes, it can be shaved over your favorite summer salad, mix into your favorite omelet, baked into quiche, or by itself on a nice cheese board served with crusty whole wheat bread.

After the tour we headed into the village for some sightseeing and to tour the Castle of Gruyeres. This castle was constructed circa 1270 and home to nineteen ruling Counts over the centuries. The last Count to rule was in 1554 and from then until 1848, the administrators of Fribourg inhabited the castle. From 1849 two Geneva families owned it. In 1938 the Canton of Fribourg purchased the castle and founded the present museum. The village is home to many shops, restaurants, and hotels. It was truly a memorable experience.

Day Four we will head to the town of Brienz via the Brunig mountain pass.

 

Day Two - 5/13/11

We drove 45 minutes from Lucerne to the Emmi Caves of Kaltbach. These caves are located on the outskirts of Lucerne, far beneath Mount Santenberg. They are primarily sandstone and limestone caves and provides the perfect conditions for aging Swiss Emmentaler and Le Gruyere. Only the selected best quality cheeses are matured in these caves. These labyrinths of caves house tens of thousands of wheels at any given time. It is truly a sight to behold.

The current length of these caves is 2,000 meters with 50,000 storage spaces. It has 6 parallel aisles that are close to 200 meters long and paired together with an access gallery.

The constant temperature of around 54 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year and humidity levels topping at 94%, gives it the perfect atmosphere to start the process of becoming the best of the best.

The Emmentaler and Le Gruyere are stored and nurtured in this mineral rich air to develop the full flavor and its trademark natural dark rind. The 12 months it spends here allows it to develop their unique, complex flavors.

     

The tour ended with a sampling of cheeses that were provided at their company store paired with a lovely glass of wine.

After Kaltbach, we took a 15 minute gondola ride to the top of Mount Pilatus. The views were spectacular. The elevation is 2,132 m/7,000 ft.

After a day of hiking through caves and up a mountain side, we were rewarded with an authentic Swiss dinner and Swiss Folks music show at the historic Restaurant Stadtkeller in Lucerne. Day Three we will be heading to the Village of Gruyere.

 

 

 

 

Day One - 5/12/11

Today, I flew into Zurich and then transferred to Lucerne, Switzerland. I was extremely tired but managed to take a small walking tour of this picturesque city. I saw rich history, beautiful architecture, and enjoyed wonderful cuisine. Bed called me very early which was good, because Day Two was fast approaching and I was looking forward to seeing the Kaltbach Caves.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archived Blog Posts

 

Super Bowl XLIV

Cheese of the Month, December 2010

Cheese Board

Piave Vecchio

American Cheese Society 2010

 

 

Fine cheeses from around the world

   

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