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My first day: Tasting twenty cheeses with Veronica in Paris!

Readers, you continue to inspire me. After many inquiries about where to eat great cheese in Paris, I finally packed my cheese valise and trundled off to France on a 9-day cheese vision quest. Just me, a small suitcase, and a long list of recommendations from cheesemongers and industry friends. Before I left, I created a map of the best cheese destinations, and when I arrived at my little apartment in the Marais district, I made a pact with myself to visit at least one dairy destination every day. On foot, rain or shine. And lo, the milky spirits that seem to guide my life gave me nothing but shine!

Reason #2 for cheesing in Paris: I’m working on a new book that’s designed to help people explore cheese in new ways. That Includes travel! You better believe there will be a fabulous chapter on cheesing in Paris. Until the book drops in Fall 2020 (look for The Milky Way: A Cheese Lover’s Guide to the Galaxy), here’s a little preview.

Rent a place with a mini fridge: Thanks to Airbnb, I stayed in a small velvetine sanctuary in the Parc Royal Apartments. But I also learned about a site called Perfectly Paris which comes recommended from some food bloggers I met.

Stock Up on the City’s Best Yogurt: On the first day, make a trek to La Laiterie de Paris, the city’s first urban creamery, and buy at least one jar of homemade yogurt. I loved their banana version, made with the shop’s own banana jam. Look through the glass window into the creamery, and you may see cheesemaker Pierre Coulon. Make sure to peruse his cheese case, where you’ll find a variety of goat cheeses rolled in fresh herbs and shallots, along with a decadent triple-crème (called Excelsior) topped with roasted hazelnuts.

Visit an Old World Cheese Shop: Longstanding cheese shops like Fromagerie Androuet, Chez Virginie, Barthélméy, and Marie Quatrehomme are legends in the business. Their cheese displays are epic. I still dream of the jewelry-case-like displays at Fromagerie Laurent Dubois, where you’ll find stunning house creations — from goat cheese rounds topped with candied yuzu, to cake-like slices of Roquefort layered with quince paste. The mongers were terrific, as was the seasonal selection. In fact, I learned that February is the season of Corsican sheep cheeses.

Explore a New-Generation Cheese Shop: Pop into Taka & Vermo for a whiff of the cheese renaissance. It’s a counter-less shop where the mongers move among the people, an interesting shift in cheese retail. I loved visiting this fromagerie with Lindsey Tramuta of Lost in Cheeseland. Lindsey’s book The New Paris is a wonderful resource for discovering new places around the city, from clothing boutiques to restaurants.

I also loved visiting a new cheese shop, Saisons, in the Marais where I tasted the soft, ashy cheese of my dreams (Briquette du Nord) and had the pleasuring of hearing the owner practice cello in the corner while I shopped.

Hire a Cheese Guide: Make a cheese trek with Veronica in Paris. She’s friendly with local mongers, knows the best place to grab a croissant with AOC butter, and loves to pair cheese and wine. She offers private tours and is also a guide with Paris by Mouth (below).

For the pairing class of dreams, sign up with Le Cheesegeek. His tasting in the cave below Saisons (cheese shop) was one of the best pairing sessions and all-around fun evenings I’ve ever experienced.

Pairs By Mouth offers well-organized tours with stops to butchers, bakers, chocolatiers, and other food purveyors in addition to cheese. I enjoyed a morning food tour around Le Marais.

Look for Lait Cru Cheeses: Young raw-milk cheeses are the thing to eat in Paris, at least once, if not daily! You won’t find them in the U.S., where our laws are more stringent. If you like sensual experiences, pick up a Brie de Melun or a thick, rumply round of Coulommiers and eat it in bed. Or along the Seine. Or on a bench in the Place des Vosges. Or, really, anywhere at all.

Spend a Morning at an Outdoor Market: There are great markets all over Paris where you can buy bread, fruit, fish, and of course cheese. I loved the Marché d’Aligre where the covered food stalls in the center of the market include not one but two cheese shops. Also, I ate the best crepe of my life at tiny Suzette et Georgette and scored a great leather jacket at one of the flea market stalls. (The coat is so deeply imbued with a man’s cologne, however, that I find it too distracting to wear, unless I carry a stinky Camembert in my pocket!)

Cheeses to Explore

Mind you, I ate 20 cheeses the first day I arrived, then slowwwwly cut back. I was fortunate to make fast friends and share my spoils. Here are a few of of the best cheeses I tasted during my Paris Cheese Vision Quest!

Briquette du Nord (a small brick of cow’s milk, partially dipped in ash)

St. Clement (a unique goat square with a gorgeous cream line)

Brie de Melun (raw and runny)

Cremeux Marons Glacées (from Fromagerie Laurent Dubois)

Coulommiers (a precursor to Brie, supply and gooey)

Trappé Echourgnac (“the liverwurst of cheese”)

Niolu Calso (Corsican sheep with a wild rind)

100-day St. Mauré de Touraine (from Laurent Dubois, slice it thin & savor)

Lavort (aged sheep’s milk in the shape of a volcano)

42-Month Comté (waxen and carameline)

Camembert de Normandie du ChampSecret (the last raw-milk farmstead Camembert in France)

Excelsior with Hazelnuts (triple cream from La Laiterie de Paris)

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Hello, lovers. I’m writing in bed by a snowy window, surrounded by notebooks and sticky notes full of ideas for my next book. Yes, this is why I have been remiss about posting. But, since I’m in the habit of list-making these days — for everything from Paris cheese shops (headed there soon!) to the most decadent cheeses on the planet — I thought I’d share a few links to some curious happenings, apps, and websites that have come my way.

Philly Cheese Events
  • Cheese Bingo: If you live in Philly, pop by Middle Child this Friday, Feb. 22 from 6:30-9 pm for a chance to win cheese on the half hour. This event is brought to you by some of my fave locals behind Liberty Kitchen (soon to open in Fishtown) and Fermentery Form.
  • Omakäse: The awesome dames who run The Cheese Course are bringing their Japanese-style cheese experience to Martha, my local hang, on March 5, 2019. Grab tickets and I’ll see you there, along with cheese queens Rachel Freier and Laura Sutter, formerly of Murray’s Cheese Bar in New York!
Apps and Blogs
  • Cheeses of Europe App: Hunting for some Comté in your hometown? Or a wine pairing for a Euro hunk? This new app offers sourcing info with links to stores in your area, plus drink suggestions. You can download it here. If you use it, let me know your thoughts!
  • Cheese Talks: Looking for a more personal spin on European cheeses? Camilla Bojsen-Møller is Denmark’s only cheese blogger, and she recently launched an English version of her cheese blog. We Skyped a few weeks ago, and I was thrilled to learn about some new Danish cheeses in her local scene.
  • Space Vixens vs. Hunger: From planet rando, this is the first sci-fi food blog I’ve encountered, and I find it delightful. Just waiting for cheese rinds to make an appearance in this alternate universe.
Cheese Mold Photo Contest
  • #LeMoldyChallenge: If you love the ‘gram as much as I do, pop over to @LeCheeseGeek and read about a new photo contest that will be judged by a group of Paris cheesemongers. Deadline to post your moldy photo is March 18, 2019. Be sure to use the hashtag!

Wishing you all loads of cheese love and inspo. xox – Madame F.

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Lately, I’ve been having a love affair with Red Rock, a mellow cheddar with a blue streak from Wisconsin. On Sunday, Feb. 10, I’ll be sharing my love for this hunk at Tria Café in Philadelphia, where I recently became Cheese Director. Want to join me? Peep the details below, along with some background on cheesemaker Chris Roelli, a fourth-generation cheesemaker from Shullsberg, Wisconsin who has become famous for his “cheddar blues.”

Join Me at Tria for “Sunday School” on Feb. 10

Tria Café Rittenhouse Square (123 S. 18th St.) 1-2 p.m.

Tria Café Wash West (1137 Spruce St.) 2:30-4 p.m.

If you’re new to Tria’s Sunday School program, here’s how it works: Every Sunday, Tria highlights a cheese, a beer, and a wine at a great price. When you sit down, you’ll see the Sunday School selections on top of the menu, along with detailed information. It’s a Sunday School bulletin of sorts. Order the selections you want to try, and enjoy a little self-education. I’m excited to curate each Sunday’s cheese and provide a dose of dairy enlightenment for you to read.

About Cheesemaker Chris Roelli

Wisconsin cheesemaker Chris Roelli grew up in his father’s cheddar factory. When it closed in 1991 due to waning prices for commodity cheese, Chris turned to trucking and firefighting. In his bones, though, he wanted to make cheese. So, in 2006 he decided to revive the family tradition. Inspired by trends he saw in artisan cheesemaking, he opted to stay small rather than build big. And instead of making Wisconsin cheddar, he created two hybrid “cheddar blues,” for which he is now famous. Dunbarton and Red Rock, Chris’s signature cheeses, age in his state-of-the-art cellar near his home in Shullsberg, WI.

Want a sneak peek? Check out my conversation with Chris Roelli to find out more about how he names his cheeses names and why he loves creating hybrid “cheddar blues.” My interview is posted on the Tria Blog!

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Friends, I’m excited to share some delicious news. This week, I’m beginning a new role as Cheese Director for Tria, a Philadelphia institution known for its extensive cheese, wine, and beer selections. With three locations – two cafés and a taproom – Tria has built what I like to think of as The Cheese Triangle in Center City. If I’m downtown, I’m never far from a fix.

Starting in February, I’ll be curating Tria’s cheese menu — 16 cheeses — and picking weekly hunks for “Sunday School.” If you want to worship some divine dairy at a benevolent price, consider checking out my weekly offering.

Sunday School at Tria runs noon to late night every Sunday at both café locations (1137 Spruce St. and 123 S. 18th St.). It’s a happy hour of sorts featuring a single cheese, beer, and wine with substantial tasting notes. Eat, drink, and get an education.

I’m also looking forward to providing cheese education for Tria’s staff (their training program is excellent), creating menu notes, and writing for the new Tria Blog.

Stay tuned! I’ll be giving you updates and highlights. Maybe we’ll even rub elbows on bar stools over a bit of cheese in the not-so-distant future.

Note: Nooo…I have not left my day job teaching writing. I am, as always, using my secret third and fourth arms! Cheese fuels all.

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Sofia, from Capriole Goat Farm

My dearest loves, I started out the year determined to eat a different American cheese each week and post about it on Instagram (@mmefromage). I wanted to do something hopeful…and American, as a way to bring some positive vibes to the charged political climate. Plus, I wanted to catch up with the renaissance. Since I started blogging almost a decade ago, there’s been a meteor shower of new American cheeses and talented new makers. I wanted to explore them.

My American Cheese Project was also an idea for a book. Behind the scenes, I developed a proposal, sent it around to publishers, and…well…the project morphed into a different cheese book project (more on that later). All this to say, I ate a good deal of glorious American cheese in 2018, but maybe not as much as I originally intended!

Here’s a little accounting of the 52 American cheeses I tasted and chronicled this year, including one from Puerto Rico:

52 American Cheeses from 2018

Julianna, Capriole Goat Cheese (IN)

Rocket’s Robiola, Boxcarr Handmade Cheese (NC)

Merry Goat Round Spruce Reserve, Firefly Cheese (MD)

St. Malachi, The Farm at Doe Run (PA)

Rupert, Consider Bardwell (VT)

Flory’s Truckle, Milton Creamery (IA and MO)

Taupiniere, Laura Chenel’s Chevre (CA)

Finger Lakes Gold, Lively Run Dairy (NY)

Blue Yonder, Lively Run Dairy (NY)

Thistle, Valley Milkhouse (PA)

Rarebird, Cherry Grove Farm (NJ)

Hermit, Parish Hill Creamery (VT)

Birchrun Blue, Birchrun Hills Farm (PA)

Cayuga Blue, Lively Run Dairy (NY)

Sheep’s Milk Basket Ricotta, Bellwether Farms (CA)

Alpha Tolman, Jasper Hill Farm (VT)

Fat Cat, Birchrun Hills Farm (PA)

Tiger Lily, Tulip Tree Creamery (IN)

Crescenza, Bellwether Farms (CA)

Bijou, Vermont Creamery (VT)

Smoked Cumin Gouda, Marieke Gouda (WI)

Big Ed’s Gouda, Saxon Creamery (WI)

Red Rock, Roelli’s Cheese (WI)

Campo, Boxcarr Handmade Cheese (NC)

Merion Truffle, Merion Park Cheese (PA)

Reading Raclette, Spring Brook Farm (VT)

Witchgrass, Valley Milkhouse (PA)

Noblette, Calkins Creamery (PA)

Bridgewater, Zingermans Creamery (MI)

Grayson, Meadow Creek Dairy (VA)

Tarentaise, Spring Brook Farm (VT)

Red Hawk, Cowgirl Creamery (CA)

Seastack, Mount Townsend Creamery (WA)

Cheddy Topper, Vermont Farmstead Cheese Co. (VT)

Sawtooth, Cascadia Creamery (WA)

Cornerstone, (Collaboration cheese involving Parish Hill, Birchrun Hills, Cato Corner, and Mystic Cheese) VT, PA, MA, RI

Charloe, Canal Junction Farms (OH)

Bossa, Green Dirt Farm (MO)

Poca Blanca and Poco Rojo, Larks Meadow Farms (ID)

Two thistle-rennet cheeses from Idaho: Poca Blanca and Poco Rojo

Oooomami Brie, Cherry Grove Farm (NJ)

Havilah, Cherry Grove Farm (NJ)

Pleasant Ridge Reserve Extra Aged, Uplands Cheese (WI)

Caleb, Red Barn Farm (WI)

Lager Käse, Widmer’s (WI)

Renegade, Hidden Hills Dairy (WI)

Up North Smoked Jersey Ricotta, Crooked Face Creamery (ME)

Petite Camembert, Marin French Cheese (CA)

Cloud Nine, Yellow Springs Farm (PA)

Sofia, Capriole Goat Cheese (IN)

Tiger Lily, Tulip Tree Creamery (IN)

Montebello, Vaca Negra (PR)

To see images of these cheeses, pop over to Instagram and click the hash #AmericanCheeseProject. You’ll see even more examples of American cheese, as a number of followers joined me on this mission.

If you feel inspired, seek out some of the cheeses on this list. I recommend them all, truly I do. As always, I remain inspired by the many hard-working, creative, attentive, kind, thoughtful people who populate the cheese world as makers and mongers. As this year ends and a new one opens, may you find your cheese life expanding to include some revelatory tastes from your state. Given the ongoing American dairy crisis, all of our makers could use your support.

Up North (smoked ricotta), Crooked Face Creamery

~

Coming in Spring, 2019…

Cheese & Sherry Tasting, January 19, 3 p.m.

Join me at the new Whole Foods – Newtown Square (3737 Westchester Pike). I’ll be signing books and sharing favorite cheese and sherry pairings from the store’s selection.

Cheddar Odyssey with Cheese Journeys, April 1-5

A few spots are still open for my next trip, and there’s a new discount for readers and friends! This is a chance to travel with cheese painter Mike Geno and me to the home of Montgomery’s Cheddar in Somerset. This is one of my favorite tours — full of charm (thatched rooftops), hard cider, cooking classes, cheese makes, and, guess what!? Exquisite British cheeses served up for every meal, often with the cheesemaker right at our table.

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If you’ve waited until the last second to do your holiday shopping, then you’re like me. I’ve been nose to the desk for most of November and December, working on a new book, and suddenly everyone around me is lighting candles and walking through the neighborhood with pine trees. Oh, hello! I guess we better talk Stilton and sugar plums. Or, more like, Vacherin and vinyl?

This year, I’ve been all about books and travel — I went across the country on a book tour for Booze and Vinyl  hosting listening parties from New York to Nashville with my brother André, so my life has been spinning in a sweet, lo-fi way. I’m inclined to think that gifting a person “a night of listening and lounging” is nicer, in some way, than wrapping up an object. So, here are five ways you can bring a cheese experience into the life of someone you love…

Create a Monthly Cheese Night with a Subscription Box

Why not gift your lover one of the many terrific cheese subscription boxes that are now geared around small-batch cheese? My cheesemaker friends Sue Miller and Stef Angstadt at Collective Creamery now ship boxes across the East Coast. You’ll receive a hunk from each of these two fabulous Pennsylvania makers, plus they choose a third “surprise cheese” from a different artisan  each month. I like this subscription because you can experience the seasonal cheeses of two makers, plus their surprise selections will introduce you to other small makers you might never know existed.

Alternatively, check out the Cheesemonger Box — a cool service offered by cheese shop owners Laura Downey and Chris Palumbo of Fairfield Cheese and Greenwich Cheese in Connecticut. As expert cheesemongers, you’ll get to taste some of their favorite artisan and small-batch cheeses. Plus, they use compostable packaging. When you receive your box each month, invite friends over, ask everyone to bring a bottle, and you’ve got an easy and enjoyable night in.

Plan a Cheese-cation

Book a BnB on a dairy farm, like the off-the-grid retro Airstream that Gianaclis Caldwell has at Pholia Farm. Gianaclis is a much-loved cheesemaker, teacher, and author (not to mention a Superhost) in Oregon’s Rogue River Valley. Lovers of goat cheese and blue cheese, this is your honeymoon cottage!

You  could also join me on a Cheese Journey! As you probably know, I’m co-h0sting specialty food tours to England, Holland, Vermont, and Italy in 2019. These are one-of-a-lifetime trips, wonderful for marking a special year — an anniversary, birthday, or retirement.

Gift a Cheese Book…and Actually Cook from It

Tia Keenan’s new book Melt, Stretch, and Sizzle is undoubtedly the sexiest cheese cookbook you’ll ever lay your hands on. I suggest wrapping it in some shiny black paper and leaving it by the bed. Then let your cheese lover leaf through the flaming hot photos and pick out what they want you to cook for dinner. Let’s hope they pick the “umami bath” that is Tia’s Blue Cheese Sauce or the Baked Pumpkin Fondue served in a whole baked gourd.

A Few Other Ideas…

Mike Geno’s Cheese Portrait Calendar

Cheese pins from Cheese, Sex, Death

Abeego Beeswax Wrap for Cheese

~

Happy holidays, lovers! I hope the end of December is full of downy soft rinds.  xo

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Cheese Table at the 2018 Cheese Ball (by Evan Kalman)

Darlings, I am still digesting. After hosting Madame Fromage’s 4th Cheese Ball on November 10, I had a cheese hangover the size of Mars. Let me tell you about this year’s bash. If you missed it, or couldn’t make it to Philadelphia, hold your tears. One day, I plan to bring Madame Fromage’s Cheese Ball to other cities! (More about that soon. Thanks for the many inquiries!)

Two photographer friends were kind enough to snap photos in between bites. Huge thanks to Evan Kalman for capturing the giant collaborative cheese table, and to Lisa Schaffer for chronicling the crowd. Ready? Let’s recap some serious rennet-on-rennet action.

This Year’s Invitation

This year’s invite was created, once again, by Stefania Patrizio. Pssst…Stef is a graphic designer by training (she designed this site) who I met when I first started offering cheese tasting classes in 2010. This year she left her day job at BHLDN to become a cheesemonger at Di Bruno Bros. Bold move for a bold grrrrl. I’m so proud she’s found her whey.

We Built Philadelphia’s Largest Cheese Board

The heart of the Cheese Ball is a giant cheese board that draws all the lovers together to nosh and talk. You might find yourself talking to the cheesemonger from across town, or getting to know a cheesemaker from the region. That’s the goal: to help lovers find other lovers. And taste the hunks of their dreams.

Cheesemaker Stefanie Angstadt of Valley Milkhouse and Collective Creamery, with writer and cheese educator Alex Jones (by Lisa Schaffer)

My brother & co-author Andre Darlington with Janine Hawley (by Lisa Schaffer)

The Cheese Table (by Lisa Schaffer)

Fromage Fashion? Of Course!

Dress code for the Cheese Ball always ranges from “barnyard casual to ballgown fabulous,” as I like to say. This year’s crowd included two gents wearing lederhosen, a trio of Brooklynites in matching dresses dotted with their favorite cheese labels. Plus, I was blown away by numerous fabulous headpieces, including a tiara made from fondue forks and an array of cheese-bedecked fascinators! Yes, I wore a Wisconsin cheese top hat.

Fermentation blogger Amanda Phickle, Cheesemaker Jamie Png, and Lost Bread’s Allison Carafa (by Lisa Schaffer)

Hunter and Denise Fike, with Yours Truly (by Lisa Schaffer)

Bluebird and Friends (by Lisa Schaffer)

Even the Cheese Bunny made an appearance! (by Lisa Schaffer)

Music + A Raffle for 4 Lbs of Aged Gouda

No Ball would be complete without dancing! Chuck Darwin and The Knuckle Draggers, fronted by fruit grower Ben Wenk, got all the cheesemakers onto the dance floor, including this guy below. He drove in from Hudson, NY to shake it, shake it.

Cheesemaker Brent from Limekiln Farm (by Lisa Schaffer)

Chuck Darwin and the Knuckle Draggers (by Lisa Schaffer)

Grand prize drawing for L’Amuse Gouda (by Lisa Schaffer)

Gouda winner Jon Goff (by Lisa Schaffer)

Did I Mention Hot Raclette?

In the upstairs ballroom, you could taste a variety of melted Raclette on toast, all hand-scraped (ha!) by Swiss sparkle causer, Lüku from Jumi Cheese.

Lüku from Jumi Cheese (by Lisa Schaffer)

Plus, this year’s Ball featured a special cocktail, thanks to Powers Irish Whiskey. If you’ve never tasted a Powers Old Fashioned with an Alpine cheese, plan to express tears of joy. My local cheese shop, Di Bruno Bros., helped select just the right wheel to pair: Alex, a beautiful Bavarian mountain cheese with lots of herbaceousness and toasty funk.

Community Fundraising 

Best of all, this year’s Ball lined the pockets of Pennsylvania’s first-ever woman-powered cheese subscription service, Collective Creamery. This recent enterprise is the brainchild of cheesemakers Sue Miller and Stefanie Angstadt, along with cheese writer and educator Alex Jones. Together, they produce the first podcast for cheesemakers by cheesemakers, The Collective Creamery Podcast. Plus, they curate boxes of handcrafted cheese for subscribers across PA, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and New York.

The dames of Collective Creamery (by Lisa Schaffer)

Each Collective Creamery box includes a hunk from Sue and Stefanie (pictured above, on the left), along with a “guest hunk” from another small-batch cheesemaker. Their entrepreneurial and inclusive spirit is what inspired me to host this year’s Ball. Sales from tickets and the Cheese Ball drawing raised $2500 to fuel their next initiative.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

The Cheese Ball comes together every other year, thanks to the heavenly arms of so many Philadelphia area friends and businesses. A wild kiss to all of you who pitched in on cutting 80 loaves from Philly Bread and Lost Bread Co., ran the door, set up the cheese table, and stuck around to feast on the remains at the end of the night.

Special thanks, too, to those who donated prizes for the drawing, including Liberty Kitchen, Martha, Essex St. Cheese, Artifaqt Design, and Cheese Journeys. An extra special thanks to Anna Juhl for handling tickets for this year’s drawing!

Sue Miller’s Fat Cat on the Cheese Ball table (by Evan Kalman)

And now, lovers, I am going back into my writing cave for the next few months.

xoxo

Madame Fromage

About the Photographers

Lisa Schaffer is a professional photographer specializing in weddings and live concerts around Philadelphia. She’s also a fabulous vinyl DJ (@vinylchickie). I met her while working on Booze and Vinyl and have converted her into a cheese lover.

Evan Kalman is a professional food photographer based in Philadelphia and New York. He’s also a blogger, recipe developer, and food stylist. Drool over his universe at add1tbsp. For years, I followed him online. Then, he moved to my neighborhood. Bliss.

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This spring, I made a scouting trip to Amsterdam to explore Dutch cheese and to visit the shop of an affineur I love, Betty Koster. Betty, pictured above in her shop, exports the most beautiful golden wheels to the United States, and she is a radiant personality – She is often referred to as the “Julia Child of Cheese.”

You might know Betty’s cheeses: L’Amuse, Wilde Weide, Brabander, Remeker, Black Betty.

My first trip to Holland was in partnership with Anna Juhl (below) of Cheese Journeys — a planning mission for our upcoming Holland tour (April 11-19, 2019)! Want to go adventuring with us to the land of Gouda and tulips?

If so, here are a few memories from my travel notebook to give you a sense of the experience…

  • Open roads lined with rainbow stripes of tulips. The area around Amsterdam is all flower farms and pastures separated by canals. It’s a photographer’s paradise – especially in April, when the bulbs are in full bloom.

  • A visit to renegade Dutch cheesemaker Jan van Schie, maker of Wilde Weide. We’ll ferry to his floating farm (no joke), where he lives and works on an island named “Solitude.” He is one of three inhabitants. Through his kitchen window, you’ll see his red and white cows grazing in the sun, and in his nearby cheese room you’ll see Jan make and press his daily six wheels of organic cheese. If you’re a curd nerd, this is an experience of a lifetime. Yes, Jan still wears wooden clogs.

  • Two Dutch cheese pairing nights with Betty Koster – Gouda and beer? Gouda and tea? Pairing cheese is Betty’s specialty. She’s written a number of books on the subject. You’ll also meet her family, tour her shop (Fromagerie L’Amuse) and aging space, and receive all the warmth that is Betty Koster. If you’re a chef or a beer/tea buff, Betty will blow your mind with her approach to pairings.
  • A private food tour of Amsterdam – by boat, via the canals – with legendary host Martijn Bos of Boska Holland Cheesewares! No doubt you know Boska’s cheese knives, slicers, fondue pots, and Raclette makers – they’re sold in every cheese shop around the world. Martijn loves Cheese Journeys, and he’s promised a tour of his headquarters, plus a floating “foodtrip” of his favorite spots to nosh around Amsterdam. If you’re an entrepreneur or an aspiring cheese-preneur, you’ll want a seat next to Martijn!
  • A morning stroll through the Alkmaar Cheese Market, a ritual you don’t want to miss when you visit Holland. You’ll peer deep into cheese traditions as local guilds reenact the cheese trade, from weighing huge wheels of Gouda, to tasting core samples, to bidding on selections. If you’re a history buff, this experience is a fascinating glimpse into European dairy commerce.

Curious to learn more or reserve your spot? Here are three ways you can, my darlings:

Check out the Full Itinerary on Cheese Journeys!

Here’s the full itinerary , where you can see pricing and read about accommodations. I loved The Element Hotel where we’ll be staying – each room has a kitchenette, which means…midnight cheese and cocktails! Of course, I’ll be sharing a few favorite recipes from my latest book.

Cheese Journeys Party at Boska HQ in NYC!

If you’re in the New York area, meet CJ tour guru Anna Juhl on Nov. 15 from 5-7 p.m. at Boska’s HQ (33 W. 26th St.) She’s teamed up with Boska for a “Speakcheesy” featuring Dutch beers and a selection of Betty Koster’s Dutch cheeses from Essex St. Cheese. You’ll be able to taste some incredible crystalline hunks from the makers on our tour! To reserve a spot, email Anna@cheesejourneys.com.

Meet Us at the Cheese Ball!
Philadelphia friends, feel free to inquire about the Gouda getaway at my Cheese Ball on Nov. 10 as Anna Juhl will be one of the special dairy dignitaries present that night! Look for Cheese Journeys materials. And meet chef Sylvain Jamois, another Cheese Journeys regular and part of Anna’s team.

Pssst…this trip has the best smells. For more info about spring 2019 tours I’m co-hosting with Cheese Journeys, have a peep:

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Lovers, on Saturday, November 10, 2018 I am hosting my fourth Cheese Ball, Philadelphia’s largest cheese party. Don your cheesiest suit, overalls, or ballgown and bring a hunk of cheese (or a condiment) for the giant cheese board. Tickets are just $20, and this year’s ball benefits Collective Creamery — our first women-powered cheese CSA!

This Year’s Highlights

Live music! Upstairs, get ready to dance to the Raclette-melting music of Chuck Darwin and the Knuckle Draggers, featuring Ben Wenk of Ploughman Cider! Yes, we’ll have Ploughman Cider at the bar.

Incredible local baguettes! Bread for this year’s Ball is generously provided by Lost Bread Co. and Philly Bread.

A Cheese Ball Cocktail! You know I have a thing for pairing cheese and spirits. A huge thanks to our first-ever boozy sponsor, Powers Irish Whiskey

Cheese Raffle! Win a giant hunk to take home. Or a loot bag from one of our cheese supporters, like Cheese Journeys!

Meet makers and mongers! Yesss, we have loads of dairy dignitaries who attend the ball. They’re easy to identify because we shower them with love beads…

A Cheese Tower by Collective Creamery! Our upstairs cheese table will feature cheeses made by our local Cheese CSA team. Meet Sue Miller, Stefanie Angstadt, and Alex Jones. You can learn more about their cool cheese subscription service based here in Philly.

Peep the images from Cheese Balls of yore, and get ready to join the fun on November 10! #CheeseBall2018

Yours in Cheese,

Madame Fromage

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I’m already starting to salivate when I think about April. Cheese Journeys is offering another Cheddar Odyssey from April 1-5, 2019, and I can’t wait to eat Ogleshield for breakfast. It’s a collaboration cheese made by a pair of cheesemakers, including renowned cheddar king Jamie Montgomery, and it’s always on the table at his family’s house in Somerset – the site of our stay.

If you love cheddar, if you dream of eating the best British cheeses for breakfast — while overlooking cows on pasture through a set of French doors — consider joining us at North Cadbury Court in the heart of Cheddar country.

I participated in this tour three years ago, and it was the perfect introduction to a Cheese Journeys tour. It was also one of the most relaxed and luxurious trips I have ever taken.

Where We Stay

If you read my last post about cheesing in a French chateau with pool parties and evening cocktails, you know that Anna Juhl’s amazing dairy-driven tours feature a fabulous house where we all settle in to learn about the region and enjoy meals with local makers.

Last year’s guests at North Cadbury Court (Photo: Cheese Journeys)

In England, we’ll stay at North Cadbury Court, a 21-room Montgomery family estate located in a tiny hamlet where Jamie Montgomery makes his signature Montgomery’s Cheddar each morning right across the road.

We’ll have the run of the house – from the snooker room, to the putting green (it’s on the roof), to the indoor pool. Yes, there will be pool parties – I have a vision for a special pool-side cocktail. Hopefully, you like Scotch?

If you prefer something more private, you can always take your drink up to your clawfoot tub.

Who We Meet

Since Somerset is cheddar country, it’s a quick skip down the road to visit the families who are making traditional cheddar. You’ll learn to distinguish between their signature flavors and see how clothbound cheddars are made.

The entire process is fascinating and very different from most cheese “makes.” Cheddar curds are milled (like sausage) and then packed into drums (not wheels) and, finally, wrapped in cloth and smeared with lard. (Peep this cheddar-making video featuring Jamie Montgomery to get a feel for the experience!)

We’ll visit the maturing room where Montgomery’s Cheddars are aged and also pop by Neal’s Yard Dairy — a shop and aging cave — in London to learn about how its staff selects and ships cheddar around the world.

Cheesemaking with Jamie Montgomery of Montgomery’s Cheddar (photo: Cheese Journeys)

Anna Juhl’s “Celebration of English Cheeses: A Cheesemaker Dinner” promises to be the crowning experience of this odyssey. Over an epic meal, you’ll have the chance to meet some of the best British cheesemakers and experience a guided tasting led by each maker.

How often do you get to sit down with the famed maker of Stichelton, a raw-milk Stilton? Or Tunworth, a weepy Camembert-style cheese made by the much-loved Stacey Hedges? It’s one thing to visit cheesemakers at their production facilities but quite another to hang out with them in the kitchen over canapés, or a late-night whiskey in the drawing room.

At the cheesemaker dinner, you’ll meet the makers of Gorwydd Caerphilly, Appleby’s Cheshire, Berkswell, Westcombe Cheddar, Keen’s Cheddar, Kirkham’s Lancashire, Montgomery’s Cheddar, Stichelton, and Tunworth, along with guests Mark Sharman of Sharpham Cheese & Wine, plus the wonderfully rumpled king of British hard cider Julian Temperley of Somerset Cider Brandy Co. & Burrow Hill Cider.

(Photo: Cheese Journeys)

Special guests on this tour also include the riotously fun cheese-portrait-artist Mike Geno, who will offer a special painting workshop in the ballroom, plus chefs Sylvain Jamois and Romain Alinat, who dream up glorious meals using local ingredients. Their British cooking class will be a great opportunity to brush up on your knife skills and take home a recipe. Last time, Sylvain taught us to make a proper pork pie.

Finally, you’ll meet Cheese Journeys host Anna Juhl, who offers a trove of cheese knowledge and cares for every detail. Prepare to laugh hard, eat well, and enjoy incredible hospitality.

What We Learn

You’ll taste more cheeses than you can imagine and take home a new appreciation for traditional cheddar. You’ll also discover that British cheeses are every bit as interesting – and plentiful as cheeses from other European countries. British cheeses may be less well known, but the scene there is rich and the makers wonderfully approachable.

(Photo: Cheese Journeys)

I look forward to serving you cocktails and sharing a bit of food photography magic all along the way! And, of course, we’ll have plenty of time to wander through the lush British countryside. On the last morning, Jamie Montgomery has promised to take us across the pastures where his Jerseys graze. The land was once…Camelot.

Archeology buffs, history heads, lovers of British novels and movies – this is not just a cheddar odyssey. It really is a chance to travel back in time, with the most incredible snacks!

Montgomery cows grazing on “Camelot” (Photo: Cheese Journeys)

Pack your Wellies and prepare to be completely enchanted!

~

To view the Cheddar Odyssey itinerary and booking info, please visit Cheese Journeys. You’ll also find details about other tours I’m co-hosting in 2019, including cheese-centric voyages to Holland, Vermont, and Italy. 

Dear readers, I couldn’t be more excited to share in these experiences! When you sign up for the Cheddar Odyssey, you’ll receive a copy of my book, Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese — which includes stories and information about all of the cheeses on our tour!

~

Other travel posts in this series:

Tales from a French Cheese Journey

A Philadelphia Cheese Journey

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