Thursday, March 17, 2011

Say Artisan Cheese Please!

circa 1935
There are artisan cheese producers springing up all around the Finger Lakes region! What a perfect idea since there have been dairy, sheep, and goat farms ever since...

What I know about cheese is
that I love it. Pairing cheese with our regional wines and fruits goes so naturally. There is nothing like a plate with a slice of crisp sweet apple, a bunch of grapes, and a thinly sliced hard, aged, sharp cheddar!

I am seeing more and more colorful directional flags going up along the wine trails indicating which farmers have decided to invite the public to partake in the wonderful world of specially crafted fresh and aged cheese. What fun! I can't wait to visit a few. To view a map and calendar of events listed on the Cornell University Cooperative Extension website click on  "SAY CHEESE!"

So, even though I love most cheeses and I have sampled those from all over the world, I do not know that much about the actual production. Here in lake and farm country you will find mostly small batch production and you will be able to see the cows, goats, and sheep (those darling creatures) that provide the goods.

I am familiar with aged, hard cheese that I have seen and purchased in Italian markets throughout New Jersey and New York City as well as in France and Italy.

 There is nothing like the smells of meats and cheese hanging in those little specialty delicatessens. Provolone, sharp cheddar, and the most delicious Parmigiana-Reggiano or Romano.

A cheese smoke house near Zacopane, Poland
When visiting
 Poland in 2004, our group took an excursion to the mountains in Zakopane and saw many cheese smoke huts that were found along the roads. Inside we saw men stooped over open fires creating just the right amount of smoke for mostly Oscypek, or sheep's cheese.

Oscypek Sheep's Cheese

This cheese, as with other types of cheese in Poland is molded into shapes or balls before it is smoked. It then has a brownish or orange colored skin and is sold on the streets in the open markets.

Cheese is one of my favorite foods but I do try to look for lower fat varieties these days because of the high fat and cholesterol content of the one's I adore. Cheese is a food that I could write many posts about and as I learn more about our local offerings here in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York I will blog about them.

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