Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wendy Wants Your Cheese!

Hey cheesemakers! Do you not see your cheese on my Cheese List?

That might be a result of my not having had them EVER, or in a really long time! Or maybe I'm just overlooking them because sometimes the world of cheese can be overwhelming!

Let's fix that up right now.

If you are a cheesemaker, affineur or wholesale distributor, I want to hear from you! If you've been keeping score at home, you know I'm getting pretty close to finishing this business plan. Part of planning this shop is nailing down what I'm selling and who is supplying it to me.
If you want to include yourself in that group, please email me! Until my shop's actual Website is up, you can contact me through my professional Website, The Cheese Snob. Look at the top of the page, see "Contact Us," and click on that.

FYI: my shop will be in Downtown Jersey City, NJ, likely in the 07302 zip code. That might help when you're figuring out how you can get YOUR cheese to MY SHOP!

So get that info and those samples to me and let's talk about cheese!

Monday, December 28, 2009

All About Cheese: Intro and Fromagerie Tournevant

While I'm busy toiling away, finishing that business plan, I figure I should keep you entertained by telling you more about the delicious items you can expect to enjoy once my shop opens. Many of these foods and beverages will also be available in the Tea and Cheese Clubs, so you can enjoy some of them even before the actual shop opens!

A major tenet of my store is the importance of EDUCATION. I don't just mean going to school, boys and girls; I mean knowing about what you eat, how it's made or grown and who makes or grows it, what's in it and from whence it comes.

Those of you who know me professionally know I've taught a handful of seminars on cheese -- everything from The Basics of Cheese to more specific fare like The Pecorinos You Don't Know. I've presented on cheese in three states, in two stores, one museum, one college and on one radio station, and that's just the formal classes. I'm like the Johnny Appleseed of cheese info: everywhere I go, I spread little bits of cheese knowledge.

And that's what I'll do in my shop, too. I'll have a convenient venue and plenty of inventory. But it won't just be me telling you the ways of the curds. I will have other folks coming in to share their knowledge on cheese, tea and other fun food stuff. Of course every class, no matter who teaches it, will center around you getting to eat and drink the subject matter! This isn't musty textbook lectures; this is hands-on! Or mouths-on.

So let us begin your cheese education right now. I'm going to tell you what I know about some of the cheeses I'll be selling. If you know more about any of them, feel free to send me a message and share your knowledge! I love learning new things, especially when they have to do with CHEESE!

An awesome, lovely person I know chooses to only eat cheese made from the milk of sheep and goats. These animals' milks are much easier than cows' milk for some people to digest. Plus, anyone concerned with BGH (or r-BST) need not worry about sheep or goats' milk; BGH stands for Bovine Growth Hormone, and Bovine means cow. So, let's start with some goat cheese, shall we?

Our first stop is Canada. Québec, to be exact, where we will explore the cheeses made by Fromagerie Tournevant.

Many people love the soft, fresh goat cheese known simply as "chèvre." (NB. chèvre simply means "goat" in French) I love it, too, but most fresh chèvre out there, even many from France, are kind of horrible. They are vacuum-packed so they can't breathe; thus, they are overly acidic with a flat, acrid taste and a gummy texture. Blecch!

Not so with Tournevant's Le Biquet. These have a moist, flaky texture and a more balanced flavor. Yes, they are tangy, because fresh goat cheese should be tangy, but they are far from acrid. The flavor is more bright than acidic. I think they are superb. Le Biquet comes with herbs and au naturel. I plan to get both. I'm not a huge fan of cheese with "stuff" in it, but there are a few -- like fresh goat cheese -- where herbs are entirely appropriate.

Like any delicious fresh goat cheese, Le Biquet is fine on its own, spread onto a baguette or some crispy crackers. You can also crumble it over your salads, put it on a burger, panino or pizza. For a fancy trick, slice it into discs (use unflavored dental floss for the cleanest cut -- yup, that's a catering secret!) and broil it on slices of bread for just long enough for the cheese to get a little brown 'n' bubbly. Mmm... If you're really fancy, you can also stuff it into your homemade ravioli or tortellini.

One of the reasons Le Biquet is a superior fresh goat cheese is because of the pasteurization method used by Tournevant: the "slower and lower" method. Because Le Biquet is aged for fewer than 60 days, by FDA law the milk used to make it must be pasteurized.

There are two main ways to pasteurize milk: one is to heat the milk to 63˚C and hold it for 30 minutes; the other is to heat the milk to 73˚C and hold it for 15 seconds. For large cheese factories, the latter, "nuclear blast" method makes sense because it's fast, and time is money, kids. The problem with this is it literally cooks all the flavor from the milk. You've accidentally burned milk at home, haven't you? It tastes pretty bad. Well, imagine what it does to cheese: it makes it taste flat, with little nuance.

Now let's look at the slower, lower-temperature method. It's still completing the pasteurization process, but the lower temperature allows some of the beneficial bacteria in the milk to remain, and this beneficial bacteria gives the cheese a more nuanced flavor and a more traditional, pleasant texture.

Tournevant uses the "slower and lower" method to pasteurize the milk they use for their cheese. It takes more time and a lot more attention to detail, but it is entirely worth it.

The other Tournevant cheese I plan to offer is Chèvre Noir, a cheddar-type cheese aged for at least twelve months. This is one of the goat cheeses we cheesemongers like to feed to people who claim they "don't like goat cheese." Of course we rarely believe them; we know they have been poisoned against goat cheese by a lifetime of nasty, substandard specimens.

We have a remedy!

Chèvre Noir!

It is unrepentantly fruity, with a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture, a toasty hint of roasted nuts and none of that yucky "goat-butt" animally flavor that's done so much to scare people away from goat cheese. Being aged for so long, it's on the semi-firm side with a little bit of flaky crumble, but it's easy to handle and even easier to eat. I like to snack on it as is, but you might like to melt it on your sandwich. With a schmear of your favorite fruit jam, it'll make a kick-ass grilled cheese sammich!

For anyone who loves cheddar but can't or won't have cows' milk cheeses, Chèvre Noir is an excellent solution.

But even if you can eat all the cows' milk cheeses you can stuff into your face, it's still a good idea to eat Chèvre Noir. It's one of my favorites, and you know how much of a picky, pain-in-the-ass I am when it comes to cheese!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This Just In... The Cheese List!

This is more-or-less the list of cheeses I want to carry in my shop.
I say "more" because there's no guarantee I can get all of these cheeses, although my experience tells me I can get nearly all of them. I say "less" because I will most likely add to this list at some point.

You may notice this is a pretty awesome list. Thank you very much.

How to read this list:
All cheeses are grouped by country of origin. If I have the state, region, province, etc., that will come next. After is the cheesemaker or the affineur, if I have that information. Then, the name of the cheese.

Here's an example:


Cheesemaker or affineur
Name of the cheese


Cheese Menu


Fromagerie Tournevant
Chèvre Noir
Le Biquet Plain

Le Biquet Herbs


Quicke's Traditional

Colston Bassett Dairy
Stilton, PDO

Manor Farm
Montgomery’s Cheddar, PDO


Petit Grés des Vosges

Vallée d’Aspe
Ossau-Iraty, AOC

Bleu de Laqueuille
Cantalet, AOC

Saint Nectaire Fermier, AOC

Roquefort, AOC

Pont l’Évêque, AOC

Le Délice de Bourgogne
Regale de Bourgogne plain

Regale de Bourgogne black pepper
Regale de Bourgogne brandy-soaked raisins

Regale de Bourgogne garlic and herbs
Regale de Bourgogne mustard seed

Langres, AOC

Fleur du Maquis

Comté, AOC, 18-month


Cábecou Feuille


Emilia Romagna
Parmigiano-Reggiano, DOP, 2-year

Gorgonzola Dolce, DOP
Provolone Valpadana, DOP

Castelrosso La Tur
Gianni Cora
Robiola di Castagna

Pecorino di Pienza
Pecorino Foglie di Noce

Il Forteto
Pecorino Toscano Stagionata, DOP

Taleggio, DOP

Piave Stravecchio
Ubriaco al Prosecco

The Netherlands

Beemster XO 26-Month
Boerenkaas, 2-year

Goat Gouda, Young




Roncal, DO

Queso Monte Enebro



Gruyère, AOC
Rolf Beeler
Hoch Ybrig

United States

Bravo Farms
Silver Mountain

Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company
Point Reyes Blue

Cato Corner Farm
Bridgid’s Abbey

Maytag Dairy Farms
Maytag Blue

Berkshire Cheese Makers
Berkshire Blue

Westfield Farms
Hubbardston Blue

New Jersey
Valley Shepherd Creamery
Oldwick Shepherd

New York
Nettle Meadow Farm

Blue Ledge Farm
Lake’s Edge

Riley’s Coat

Bonnieview Farm
Ben Nevis

Grafton Village Cheese Company
One-Year Aged Cheddar
Two-Year Aged Cheddar

Jasper Hill Farm
Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
Constant Bliss

Neighborly FarmsOrganic!
Jalapeño Monterey Jack
Raw Milk Cheddar

Willow Hill Cheese
Autumn Oak


Vaquero Blue

Vermont Brebis

Meadow Creek Farm

Uplands Cheese Company
Pleasant Ridge


Are you getting hungry?

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Tea Tease

As I'm continuing to write the business plan so I can open the actual Curds & Whey store, I'm fine-tuning my cheese and tea menus. I'm happy to post the menus here so you can get a real sense of what inclusion in the Curds & Whey Cheese and Tea Clubs can get you. When the shop opens, all tea I sell will be available for you to buy loose, or we can prepare it hot or iced for you to enjoy in the cafe or take to your next destination.

Here's what I have for tea, so far. Mind you, this selection may change and in no way is a guarantee of what's to come. The world is a fun and crazy place and we never know what can happen. But these are the teas I've chosen from my chosen vendor, who is the Art of Tea, in case you are wondering.

Once my storefront opens and I start selling a lot of tea, I'll add to my menu. There are many wonderful teas out there and if I could, I'd carry them all. Some day I just might, but in the beginning I have to start out a little on the lean side.

I am happy to hear your feedback on this list. I've done my best to make it balanced and interesting, with old favorites and interesting new blends for your drinking pleasure. Have I forgotten something obvious? Let me know and I'll look into it!


Tea Menu

All teas are loose-leaf and organic.
The minimum order for tea is one ounce.
Prices and availability are subject to change without notice.
Okay, I’m done with the fine print now.


Silver Needle
Organic Silver Needle is the most sought after white tea and is only harvested for a few days each year in the northern district of Fujian, China. Packed with antioxidants, these silvery
down-covered leaves have been prized for their medicinal properties for more than 1,000 years. Silver Needle has a light golden flush with a woodsy flavored body, unique savory aroma and long balanced sweetness.

Summer Rain
A special blend of organic white tea, infused with fresh essence of cantaloupe and jasmine,
brimming with antioxidant power. Perfect as an iced tea or served hot after a meal.

White Goji Blossoms
Organic white tea hand blended with raw goji berries, lemon myrtle and marigolds. This
refreshing infusion produces notes of baked pear and orange blossoms with a crisp finish.


Dragon Crisp – Gen Mai Cha

This so called “poor man’s tea” is made from freshly picked organic Sencha tossed with toasted rice kernels, creating a golden infusion with lightly roasted, popcorn overtones. Rich in flavor and aroma. From Japan.

Eisai’s Choice Sencha
This prized green tea, used in the Zen
Monasteries of Japan, is the highest quality Sencha from the famed Uji Gardens. Its dark leaves denote carefully tended shade-growth. Enjoy the tea with the flavor and hue of fresh cut grass.

Fresh Greens

Pan-fried organic green tea and lemon verbena create a classic infusion for refreshing enjoyment hot or iced.

Hand-picked Japanese organic green tea leaves and stems are charcoal fired to produce savory notes of roasted chestnut. Brews a deeply enjoyable cup with surprisingly low caffeine content.

Kukicha – Twig Tea

Kukicha is made from organic green twigs and stems assiduously attended through an aging
process. Once maturity is reached the twigs and stems are roasted, producing this wondrously full-bodied tea with hints of cinnamon and a low caffeine content. From Japan.

White Tip Jasmine

Chinese green tea lightly fired to maintain silvery tips, traditionally scented with jasmine.


Iron Goddess of Mercy / Ti Kuan Yin, Roasted
Grown on China’s high hilltops amongst fresh streams and
cool, crisp air. Tender leaves are gently basket-tossed immediately after harvesting to break skins for semi-oxidization. Similar to Ti Kuan Yin, Green, but this one is baked twice to create more chocolate type notes with hints of roasted chestnut.

Peach Oolong

Organic Wuyi oolong hand blended with rosehips, marigolds and essence of apricot and peach. Brews a rich infusion that calls to mind freshly picked peaches on a warm, end-of-summer’s day.


Created in honor of Joseph Walsh, who published one of the Western world's first books on tea blending in 1896. This tea offers a rich, flavorful cup combining fruity notes of white peach and gala apple with cinnamon, and has a crisp floral finish.

Ancient Forest

A specialty of the southwest province of Yunnan, this unique tea is harvested from ancient trees on the protected land of Jingmai Mangjing’s Blue Mountains. 100% organic, hand picked and
sorted, this black tea brews a rich, earthy infusion with notes of cedar and honey.

Bio-Dynamic Breakfast – Fair Trade Certified

Grown and harvested beyond organic. Biodynamic Farming embraces the global and local culture of our Fair Trade Single Estate ecosystem, creating a superior organic black tea. Our premier blend brews a brisk cup with aromatic notes of maple leaf, honey and cocoa.

Cinnamon Fig
Rounded black tea base with fresh ground cinnamon bits and summer harvest fig. Delivers rich
flavor with apple and maple notes and the warming bouquet of cinnamon.

Earl Grey

A blend of certified organic black teas hand picked from select gardens in China and India. The full bodied leaves are then blended with precious oil of bergamot to create a superb citrus bouquet and great finish.

Immortal Nectar Pu-Ehr – Vintage ‘97

Discover the benefits of rare, premium cave-aged pu-erh, known to decrease physical stress and lower cholesterol. Our unrefined, medium leafed, organic elixir yields deep brown liquor with
light sherry bouquet and a smooth, earthy flavor.

Carefully hand crafted Chinese tea based on traditional recipes. Brews a brisk cup with a classic, smooth taste, rich burgundy color and an oak finish.

Lapsang Souchong Superior

Traditionally carried by camel across Asia from China to Europe, this tea would arrive with a signature smoky aroma from the fires that the caravans burned for warmth. Still popular today, the organic leaves are smoked over pine needles and yield a distinctive aroma that goes
especially well with savory dishes.

Lovers’ Leap Ceylon

Cultivated near the Southern slope of Sri Lanka`s highest mountain Pidurutalagala, this tea is
characterized by a bright cup with a flowery finish.

Starry Night
Organic Assam black tea combined with natural, soothing vanilla bits and star shaped white tea.

Tisanes (caffeine-free)

Apricot Escape
Organic rooibos & honeybush are carefully blended with lemongrass, lemon myrtle, rosehips, hibiscus, marigolds, citrus peel, appl
e and essence of apricot & pear. Brews a rich burgundy color with a clean finish reminiscent of Asian pear. May be enjoyed hot or over ice.

Egyptian Chamomile

The sweet, calming taste of whole organic Egyptian chamomile helps to ease the mind and soothe the tummy.

Rooibos Italian Blood Orange
Fair Trade Organic Rooibos combined with hibiscus, orange peel, safflower, and natural citrus essence. This caffeine-free blend brews a light pink hue with a clean mouth-feel.

Lemon Verbena

Hand picked and air dried. Perfect hot or blended with ice.

Organic Mint

Proprietary blend of spearmint and peppermint domestically grown and harvested on the picturesque Oregon and California coasts.

A refreshing blend of organic chamomile, rosehips, lavender, roses and pink peppercorn. Brews a floral cup with thin liquor and both sweet and spicy characters.

Yerba Maté (caffeine-free)

Citron Maté

Great after a long day or as a restorative after exertive exercise, this aromatic tonic will refresh the senses. Lemongrass, orange peel, yerba mate and lemon myrtle blend together beautifully in this custom fusion you’ll enjoy hot or iced.

Yerba Maté
Our shade grown Yerba Mate is traditionally hand blended in the rainforest of Paraguay. Brews an earthy delight displaying a chestnut finish and boasts vitamins and minerals known to enhance one’s health and well-being.

Feeling thirsty?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Breaking News!!!

After working for many months doing research, writing the business plan, etc., I'm finally on my way to being in business.

I'm still finishing the business plan -- it is very close to being finished -- but in the meantime, I am finally able to offer a few fabulous ways for you and your friends to get some awesome cheese and tea picked out by your favorite Wendy!

Later today I'm going to post details on how you can purchase Cheese of the Month, Tea of the Month, and Cheese and Tea of the Month Subscriptions for you and your loved ones. Join the Cheese Club! Join the Tea Club! Join 'em both!

Just in time for Hanukkah and Christmas, I know!

To get ahead of the crowd, buy some Store Bonds now. YES, you can use them to join the Clubs.

YES you can give the Store Bonds as gifts**!
YES you can use them in the shop (when it opens)!
NO the Store Bonds never expire!
YES you'll save some money!

What are Store Bonds? They are gift certificates, but with added value. Store Bonds are purchased in increments of $9, but for every $9 you spend, you get $10 in merchandise!
How does it work? Buy a Store Bond for $9. When you go to redeem it in my shop, it's magically worth $10! And yes, you can use it to join the Clubs!
That means if you buy $90 in Store Bonds, you actually get $100 in cheese and tea. INCREDIBLE!

You want in?

Click on the thing and buy 'em through Paypal. If you would rather pay using a check or money order, please email me at and we'll work it out.

**If you are ordering Store Bonds as gifts, order by December 20 if you want us to mail the Bonds for Christmas delivery. If you order after that, we'll email your recipient by Christmas, but actual Christmas delivery cannot be guaranteed.