Cheesemonger's Corner

Welcome!

Cheesemonger - (noun) /Cheese-mon-ger/ (add pronounciation accents- MS)

- An expert in the smells, tastes, textures, and other intriacies of fine cheese. Trained in the best way to cut, serve, prepare and store cheeses, and the best pairings and flavor combinations. 

With our highly trained staff of Cheesemongers, you can rest assured the utmost care is taken to source the finest and freshest (or funkiest!) cheeses to bring to you.  We hand-cut and hand-wrap a large percentage of our specialty cheeses the day that your order ships to ensure you get the absolute freshest product possible. 

 

Cheesemonger - (noun) /chēz-mon-ger/

- An expert in the smells, tastes, textures, and other intriacies of fine cheese. Trained in the best way to cut, serve, prepare and store cheeses, and the best pairings and flavor combinations. 

With our highly trained staff of Cheesemongers, you can rest assured the utmost care is taken to source the finest and freshest (or funkiest!) cheeses to bring to you.  We hand-cut and hand-wrap a large percentage of our specialty cheeses the day that your order ships to ensure you get the absolute freshest product possible. 

Meet Your Cheesemongers

Christy Caye, ACS CCP, CCSE

Christy grew up in Northern California, unaware that all along she had been in one of America’s hotspots of cheese production. At 16 she became suddenly and inexplicably fascinated with cheese and started visiting the cheesemakers and cheese shops in that region, vowing to become a cheese connoisseur. Since then she’s worked at cheese counters in the U.S. and abroad, made cheese on a tiny island off the coast of Ireland, carried wheels of cheese through French Quarter alleys to reach New Orleans chefs, competed in the Cheesemonger Invitational, and became one of only 47 people to hold the American Cheese Society’s most advanced cheese certification. These days she enjoys making sure that every piece of cheese going into a Gourmet Dash box is simply perfect.

Robin Williams

Robin began his cheese career at the famed Inn at Little Washington in Virginia. Realizing he could differentiate himself by learning to work the cheese cart at the restaurant, he unsuspectingly turned himself into a passionate cheese professional. After managing various cheese counters across the Eastern seaboard, he ended up in Atlanta where he helped run the city’s best cheese counter at Alon’s Bakery, sharing his infectious smile and cheese knowledge with anyone at the counter. These days he loves doing complicated math equations to extract perfect cuts from a wheel of cheese and occasionally showing off his “perfect cut dance.”

10 Important Things to Know About Cheese

  1. Cheese is basically milk without water. Cheesemaking is a process that removes water from milk, leaving behind the solids like protein and fat, allowing those nutrients to be preserved much longer and delay spoilage.
  2. In order to make great cheese, a cheesemaker must start with great milk. This is why any conversation about cheese includes discussion of the farm and animals where it all begins.
  3. So many factors affect the way a cheese tastes, starting with atmosphere and soil on a farm, species and breed of animal, milking process, cheesemaking, aging, how the cheese is packaged and served, and every little thing in between.
  4. Historically cheeses were named after the place they were produced. The Swiss town of Gruyere, or the English town of Stilton, for example. These days some cheesemakers stick to that tradition, but many pick fun names for their cheese, like “Death and Taxes” or “Ewe Calf to be Kidding” for example.
  5. Pasteurization wasn’t developed until the late 1800s. All milk and cheese consumed for thousands of years before then were raw.
  6. In the U.S. raw milk cheese cannot be sold under 60 days old.
  7. A “farmstead” cheese is one made on the same property where the animals are milked, and the company or family in charge of the milking is also in charge of the cheese production. The comparable term in wine is “estate bottled.”
  8. Natural cheese colors include white, light yellow, and golden hues. Any other color is added to the cheese. A common coloring agent called annatto is responsible for orange cheese.
  9. Cheddar is both a noun and a verb. Cheddar is cheddar because it has been cheddared.
  10. There are thousands of different types of cheese made from only four ingredients: milk, rennet, culture, and salt.

What is a “Clothbound” Cheddar?

Walk in any fine cheese shop and you’re likely to find a clothbound cheddar for sale. This is simply a cheddar which has been aged in cloth, a seemingly minor factor that has significant impact on the final flavor of the cheese.

Since cloth is not airtight, the cheese aged this way will lose some of its moisture to evaporation. Less water means the cheese will be firmer, drier, and more crumbly. More importantly, the less water that’s present, the more concentrated the subtle flavors will be, showcasing more of the cheese’s complexity and depth. This process can’t happen when cheese is aged in vacuum-sealed plastic.

During aging a cloth-wrapped cheese is sort of “breathing” with its environment. It’s constantly absorbing flavors of its surroundings. Historically these cheddars were aged in cellars, stone basements, or caves, giving them earthy, wet stone aromas and flavors. Cheddars aged this way today taste most closely to how the original cheddars tasted in England hundreds of years ago. For those into history and culture, a bite of clothbound cheddar is kind of like a time machine!

or a fun experiment, try tasting a regular aged cheddar and a clothbound cheddar side-by-side, and see what differences you notice.

An Intro to Raw Milk Cheese

Almost all milk consumed in the United States today is pasteurized. But pasteurization is very recent in the long history of human dairy consumption, only developed in the late 1800s. This is why many cheese lovers consider raw milk cheeses to be more authentic representations of the cheese types originally made before that time.

●     Some argue that pasteurization kills not only pathogens (a.k.a. disease-causing bacteria), but most of the place-specific microorganisms that give a cheese its unique flavor.

●     Some people also believe that pasteurization offers cheesemakers a false safety net which allows them to handle milk without the careful attention that is required from a cheesemaker handling raw milk.

●     The FDA regulates that no cheese made with raw milk can be sold in the U.S. before it’s 60 days old. This is why some young raw milk cheeses made in foreign countries cannot be imported into the U.S. Likewise, if an American cheesemaker makes a cheese from raw milk, they cannot sell it before day 60.

●     Most people eat raw milk cheese regularly and don’t think about it. For example, all Parmigiano Reggiano is made with raw milk according to mandatory production standards in Italy.

PDO, DOP, AOC, OMG - What do acronyms mean after a cheese’s name? 

Just like wine, many cheeses have a little acronym on the label that you might not even notice. And just like wine, this denotes that the cheese has come from a specific place and was produced in a particular way that’s mandated by the appellation. A good example is Manchego, which can only be made in the La Mancha region of Spain with the milk of the Manchega breed of sheep.

 

It’s also important for regulatory reasons. When a cheese’s name becomes protected in production, anyone buying a cheese with that title knows they’re getting an authentic representation of that type.

 

Check it out on a label next time you buy cheese. Many countries have their own, but here are the most common ones to look for:

  • P.D.O. - for a cheese recognized by the European Union, meaning “Protected Designation of Origin.”
  • D.O.P. - for a cheese made in Italy, meaning “Denominazione di Origine Protetta.”
  • A.O.C. - for a cheese made in France, meaning “Appellation d'Origine Côntrolée.”

What Is A Cheesemonger?