By Lorrie Baumann
As love did for Mama Cass Elliott, Peter Lovis’ parade for Crucolo cheese just started quietly and grew. Last December’s 100-yard parade route around the Walden Street corner from Main Street to the front of The Cheese Shop in Concord, Massachusetts was the sixth annual Cheese Parade hosted by Lovis in honor of the arrival of a 400-pound wheel of cheese from the Italian village of Scurelle, where Crucolo has been produced by the Purin family for the past 200 years.
The parade started out six years ago as a couple of 8-foot red carpets that rolled out along the street from a delivery truck into the store. But like Cass Elliott’s love affair, it’s getting better and growing stronger, until last year it included, not just a horse-drawn wagon to carry the cheese along in style, but dancing mice, Miss Crucolo Universe, Miss Crucolo USA, Little Miss Crucolo, a marching band, and a military escort of His Majesty’s 10th Foot, on furlough from their Revolutionary War service in the British army. “Now they’re friends. We don’t hold a grudge in Concord,” Lovis quips. “When it turns on Walden [Street], that’s where the band picks up and the dancers and the mice…. There’s nothing like a cheese parade. Go big or go home. It’s just fun. It’s really just for fun.”
When the wagon stops outside The Cheese Shop, the tractor tire-size wheel is rolled ceremoniously off the wagon onto red carpet, to be welcomed with the reading of a proclamation from the Concord Board of Selectmen; the waving of Italian flags; a speech by the Italian representative of Rifugio Crucolo, another by Tyrolean-hatted and white-aproned Lovis, each line of his text echoed by the crowd; and a protest march by local vegans carrying signs announcing that “Milk comes from grieving mothers.” Lovis says that he didn’t arrange the protest, but he admits without shame that, “If I’d thought of it, I’d have set it up.”
The event, held annually on the first Thursday in December at 3:30, so the kids have time to get home from school first, has become something of a tradition in Concord. People take the day off work for it, some driving in from out of town. “It’s over by 4:30 because it’s dark,” Lovis says. Last year, more than 1,500 spectators showed up. The parade has been featured in news reports all over the world, and the YouTube videos have been seen by thousands.
At the very end of the celebration, someone cuts the cheese to reveal its ivory paste laced with small irregular eyes, samples are passed out to the crowd, and the whole 400-pound wheel is gone in a week. For most of the rest of the year, the Crucolo lovers will have to get by with wedges cut from the 30-pound wheels that arrive in the shop without benefit of a parade. Crucolo, an Asiago fresco-style raw cow milk cheese with a mild, buttery taste and a tangy finish, is one of about 200 cheeses in the case at The Cheese Shop at any given time. The 200 rotate in and out to make a total of about 1,000 cheeses offered to The Cheese Shop’s customers over the course of a year. “We’re always out of about 80 percent,” Lovis says. “People come in and ask for what they want. We can’t have everything all the time.”
The cheese is sold by Lovis and his 16 year-round employees, who are augmented by seasonal employees during the winter holiday season. Lovis has eight seasonal employees who’ve come back year after year during the holiday season, so that they’re now fully trained in every job in the store – one now in her eleventh Christmas at the Cheese Shop, another in her tenth year. “They love it. They love the work, they love the place, they love the customers, and they know I love them,” Lovis says.
Lovis has been in the business since 1976, when he was 15 years old and started a career that has included retail, wholesale, importing – every link of the supply chain. He signed the agreement to purchase the store in 2001 and closed the deal in 2003. “My whole life has been an apprenticeship for owning this store,” he says. In that time, he’s learned a lot about selling cheese for prices that range from about $8.99 to $40 a pound. “One thing I work very hard is not to be a cheese snob about the cheeses we sell,” he says. “The point of being in business is to give the customers what they want…. What we need to focus on is not how good we are about selling cheese. What we focus on is how we get you what you want.”
How you sell people a $40/pound piece of cheese is to give them a taste, he says. “You should never buy a cheese if you can’t taste it first. Have a taste. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. If you can’t afford it, I have other cheeses in the same family. But there’s a reason why it’s $40. It’s not cranked out of a machine; it’s made by hand. But if you want something less expensive, I’ll get you something less expensive,” he says. “Give people a taste. It’s not about the cheese. It’s about the customer.”
By Lorrie Baumann
It wasn’t so long ago that the blue cheese you found in your local grocery came in a tub of crumbles or in a bottle of creamy salad dressing. While you’ll still find Roquefort salad dressing and Gorgonzola crumbles in the refrigerated cases, it’s more and more likely that you’ll also find wedges and wheels of moldy goodness in gourmet groceries as blue cheese comes back to the cheese board.
“Blue sales in the U.S. are up again over year prior by about 2.2 percent,” said Jeff Jirik, Swiss Valley Farms Vice President of Quality and Product Development. “That’s great news for those of us who make and love American artisanal, natural cheese.”
Swiss Valley Farms, Caves of Faribault
Swiss Valley Farms is a Midwest dairy co-op that’s also the parent company of Caves of Faribault, which produced the first commercial American blue cheese in 1936. The history of American blue cheese is intimately tied to Minnesota, and Caves of Faribault in particular. In the 1920s, University of Minnesota food scientists began trying to develop a cheese that would rival Roquefort. They were making cheese out of cow milk and aging it in St. Peter sandstone caves when the French took notice. “In 1925, the French declared it ‘bastard blue,’ and that’s what led to the first PDO,” Jirik said. “It was because of the blue cheese made in St. Paul.”
Food scientist Felix Frederiksen came onto the scene at Caves of Faribault when he decided to venture into commercial cheese production. He’d seen sandstone caves used in France for aging Roquefort, so he started looking for a sandstone cave that he might be able to use for the same purpose. He traveled into Minnesota by train, and when the train stopped at Faribault, he couldn’t help but notice the St. Peter sandstone bluffs directly across from the train station. Even better, the bluffs already had a cave, which had once been used as a cool environment for beer storage until Prohibition shut down the brewery in 1919. Frederiksen set up shop in the abandoned Caves of Faribault and operated it as an aging facility for America’s first commercial blue cheese until 1965, when he sold it. The Caves of Faribault went through a couple of changes of ownership before Jirik and two partners bought the facility in 2001, and then it became part of Swiss Valley Farms in 2010. Today, both Swiss Valley Farms and Caves of Faribault make award-winning blue cheeses and gorgonzola.
AmaBlu® Blue Cheese is a 75-day-old cave-aged blue cheese that’s sold in convenient exact weight crumbles and wedges. Its tangy taste profile makes it a good choice for sprinkling on a salad or laying over a burger. AmaGorg[R] Gorgonzola Cheese is aged a minimum of 90 days and has a sharper flavor but is a little less acidic than AmaBlu. AmaBlu St. Pete’s Select blue cheese is a super premium cheese aged more than 100 days and available only in limited quantities.
Rogue Creamery is another cheese company with a respected legacy in blue cheeses. The company started thinking about blue cheese during World War II, when the company was providing millions of pounds of cheddar for the war effort, and Tom Vella, the creamery’s founder, thought what we all think after we’ve eaten no cheese but cheddar for the duration of a world war: A piece of cheese is still wonderful, but it’s time for something a little different. He created Oregon Blue, the West Coast’s first cave-aged blue in 1954.
Oregon Blue successfully carried the blue flag for Rogue Creamery until 1998, when Ig Vella, Tom’s son, created Oregonzola in honor of his father’s hundredth birthday. New owners David Gremmels and Cary Bryant took ownership of Rogue Creamery in 2002 with a handshake promise to keep the plant open and its staff employed. “Ig continued on as Master Cheesemaker and mentor,” said Francis Plowman, Rogue Creamery’s Director of Marketing. “The tradition and path was laid down to develop expertise for blue cheese and to create new varieties.”
Gremmels and Bryant took those two blue cheeses and ran with them, expanding the line to nine with a tenth expected to come out some time in 2016. In 2003, Rogue River Blue won the award for Best Blue Cheese at the World Cheese Awards, and that led to the cheese becoming the first raw milk cheese to be exported into the European Union in 2007 . “That was a catalyst for us, really,” Plowman said.
Consumer demand for the blue cheeses drove production, and Rogue Creamery’s cheesemakers were inspired to see what else they might be able to do. Crater Lake Blue was created in 2004. Smokey Blue won a Trend Innovation Award at SIAL in 2005 as the first smoked blue and then came the award for Outstanding New Product at the 2005 Summer Fancy Food Show. “That became almost an instant best seller,” Plowman said. “We now had two cheeses with international reputations.”
Then the creamery created Flora Nelle Blue Cheese, an organic cheese created especially to comply with Australia’s refusal to allow imports of raw milk cheeses. “We were looking to create a cheese for the Australian market that was the same fine quality as our other products,” Plowman said. “That was also a catalyst for us to learn how to make some of the best pasteurized blue cheeses.” In 2012 Flora Nelle was selected as the Outstanding Organic Product at the Summer Fancy Food Show.
Next up for Rogue Creamery was Caveman Blue, a natural rind cheese with a lot of the flavor profile of Rogue River Blue, but it’s available year-round, while Rogue River Blue Cheese is always sold out before the winter holidays because in keeping with Rogue Creamery’s tradition for cheese production, it’s only made during the six-week period in late fall after the first rains of the season as a celebration of the autumnal equinox and the rich milk coming in at that time. Keeping the tradition means that the supply of Rogue River Blue doesn’t necessarily keep up with demand, and after Rogue River Blue is sold out for the season, Caveman Blue is still available. “I think that all of these things built on the others,” Plowman said. “Ig Vella as Master Cheesemaker made great cheeses, and then the new owners really innovated from that platform.”
“That’s been our niche for more than 10 years,” he continued. “We really focused on certain cheeses. We’ve had a lot of requests to make others, but the facility is dedicated to making the world’s finest hand-made cheeses. Product diversification is great, but we’re not going to start making Gouda or some other kind of cheese. We want to do what we do and be the best at it.”
Founded in 1988, Organic Valley is best known for an entire range of USDA-certified organic dairy products that includes Cheddar, Jack and block mozzarella cheeses sold from the self-service cases at natural and mainstream grocers, but the company also makes the delicious Kickapoo Blue, which is positioned as a specialty cheese. Brand Manager Andrew Westrich says it’s one of his favorites. “Sales for Kickapoo are doing well and growing. There’s a rising interest in blues in general, and I think it comes from the awakening of America’s food palate in the last five to 10 years. Blues offer some of the richest, fullest sensory experiences you can get in a cheese,” he said. “Chefs and consumers are looking for full sensory experiences. Blues offer a wonderful juxtaposition of flavors and colors from the creamy white of the cheese to the tangy, salty notes from the blue-green Penicillium roqueforti mold used in our Kickapoo Blue and in many of the world’s best blue cheeses. You can see the texture on the plate and feel it in the mouth, and they offer a continuum of flavor beyond that of other cheeses.”
Kickapoo Blue presents a mild, creamy taste of the base cheese followed by the rich earthiness of the mold and finishes with a salty tang. “It’s almost like a primal experience,” Westrich said. “Other specialty cheeses offer complex flavor profiles, but blue cheeses offer a very unique, even more dynamic experience that changes from start to finish.”
Kickapoo Blue is unique because it’s made in southwestern Wisconsin from milk that comes from organic family farms from the Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa and southeastern Minnesota. The landscape of rolling hills and valleys is home to some of the 1,800 farmers who belong to the national organic cooperative. They share the goal of tending the land with sustainable methods and have an average herd of about 70 cows. “They’re not 100 percent grass-fed, but they’re out on pasture as much as possible in a Midwest climate,” Westrich said. Kickapoo Blue is made from a decades-old recipe that uses this milk combined with Penicillium roqueforti. “That milk, that great organic milk from our family farmers really makes the difference,” Westrich said.
That difference is gaining the notice of the critics. Kickapoo Blue won a gold medal this year at the Los Angeles International Dairy Competition and a second-place award at the American Cheese Society’s 2015 competition. “Clearly we’re doing something right with it,” Westrich said.
Kickapoo Blue is sold in a 4-ounce wedge wrapped in plastic and foil and in tubs of crumbles that are made from the same cheese sold in the wedge.
Bleating Heart Cheese
Bleating Heart Cheese’s Buff Blue is one of most unusual blue cheeses on the American market. Cheesemaker Seana Doughty makes it from water buffalo milk supplied by dairy farmer Andrew Zlot, who uses it to make his gelato during the spring and summer months. Demand for gelato diminishes during the winter, so Zlot urged Doughty to take some of his winter milk and try making cheese with it.
Water buffalo milk is traditionally used to make mozzarella di bufala in Italy, where it’s been made since around 1,200. Doughty, though, who specializes in American Originals cheeses that are an expression of her own creativity, had absolutely not interest in making mozzarella. “But he kept coming back and asking me,” she said.
Zlot finally talked her into trying some experiments. She made a couple of experiments at home and then did some thinking about the implications of the milk’s very high fat content – water buffalo milk contains about 8-10 percent fat, compared to around 7 percent fat for sheep milk, which doesn’t sound like a lot of difference, but the extra fat makes a very dense, very rich milk that’s distinctively different to work with. After playing around with the milk a bit, Doughty began to wonder if it might make a good blue cheese.
The result was Buff Blue, an absolutely unique cheese for the American market. Doughty made it in multiple batches for the first time in late 2014, then sent it to the World Cheese Awards, where it won a bronze medal in its first competition. In 2015, Buff Blue made from spring milk went on to win a third-place award in the American Cheese Society competition.
The water buffalo milk supply went to Zlot’s gelato instead during the summer, but as soon as the cooler weather came, Doughty went right back to making cheese with it. “I have been getting so many requests for it because people who did get a little bit of it loved it,” Doughty said. “Markets have been sending out purchase orders for it even though I told them that we were sold out.”
Buff Blue retails for about $40 a pound, depending on the retailer and the distance from the Bleating Heart creamery, but the reception has been so enthusiastic that Doughty is planning to expand her production of Buff Blue with all the milk that Zlot’s willing to sell her. The cheese, made in 2-1/2 to 3-pound wheels, will continue to be made in the fall and winter, ending each year with the arrival of spring weather.
Buff Blue is aged for at least 90 days, so it’s available for sale in the spring months through June, if it lasts that long. “The buffalo milk is tricky and can be difficult to work with, but I’m used to it now. I know what to expect,” Doughty said. “I feel a sense of accomplishment as a cheesemaker that I have found a way to make an award-winning cheese from this very difficult milk.”
The federal Food and Drug Administration is bowing to cheesemakers who claim that in applying a standard for non-toxigenic E. coli in cheese that they claim is arbitrary and unscientific, the agency could be, in effect, limiting the production of raw milk cheeses without demonstrably benefiting public health.
“In response, we want to first acknowledge our respect for the work of the artisan cheesemakers who produce a wide variety of flavorful, high-quality cheeses using raw milk and our appreciation for the great care that many take to produce raw milk cheeses safely. We understand the concerns expressed by some cheesemakers, as well as lawmakers, and intend to engage in a scientific dialogue on these issues,” read’s the FDA’s statement announcing the change, issued on February 8.
The FDA has been testing raw milk cheeses for the presence of non-toxigenic E. coli because that’s been thought to indicate fecal contamination. The FDA says that the bacterium is used as an indicator of fecal contamination by other public health agencies in the U.S. and other countries as well as by the FDA. “The FDA’s reason for testing cheese samples for non-toxigenic E. coli is that bacteria above a certain level could indicate unsanitary conditions in a processing plant,” the FDA says.
FDA recently sampled and collected data on 1,200 imported and 400 domestic raw milk cheeses, according to the American Cheese Society. The FDA notes that the sampling it has conducted to date shows that the “vast majority of domestic and imported raw milk cheeses” are meeting the FDA’s criteria.
The FDA will also hold a listening session later this week in Washington, D.C. to hear directly from ACS raw milk cheesemakers. ACS President, Dick Roe, and ACS Executive Director, Nora Weiser, will be joined by seven raw milk cheesemakers from around the country, who will share their stories and speak to the impact of raw milk cheese regulatory changes on their businesses. The seven cheesemakers who will be addressing the FDA include:
Looking ahead, with the FSMA preventive controls rule now final, the FDA plans to take another look at what role non-toxigenic E. coli should have in identifying and preventing insanitary conditions and food safety hazards for both domestic and foreign cheese producers. Changes in the safety criteria the FDA is using will consider what the cheesemakers and other experts have to say about the use of a single bacterial criterion for both pasteurized and raw milk cheese, and the use of non-toxigenic E. coli as an indicator organism.
Arthur Schuman, Inc. has hits with its 2015 award-winning Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan and Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan. These award-winning cheeses are rated #1 and #2 Parmesan cheese in the United States by the American Cheese Society, and the company offered both of them in its booth during the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show.
“We had an overwhelmingly positive response from both retailers and foodservice operators seeking to find exceptional cheese options for their customers,” said lIana Fischer, Vice President of Innovation & Strategy at Arthur Schuman, Inc. “Show attendees marveled at the exceptional taste and crunchy textures of our award-winning Parmesan cheeses.”
Arthur Schuman, Inc., a fourth-generation family company located in Fairfield, New Jersey is recognized as a leader within the specialty cheese industry as both an importer and a producer of hard domestic cheeses for foodservice operators, retailers and distributors.
Fischer was thrilled to see how many show attendees stopped by their booth to experience for themselves the delicious taste of their award-winning cheeses that included:
Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan – This Parmesan cheese has a unique rich and nutty flavor that earned a first-place award at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition. Made with strict traditional methods, this award-winning cheese is produced in Arthur Schuman’s Lake Country Dairy facility using the highest quality milk. The cheese’s robust flavor and distinct color comes from our commitment to using a copper kettle in the cheese making process and natural sea salt in the brining process. Each wheel is hand selected by a team of expert cheese graders as soon as its flavor has reached the peak of perfection.
Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan – Produced by expert cheesemakers, Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan is made with the freshest milk from local Wisconsin farms and carefully crafted using traditional techniques. Each wheel is naturally aged for over 12 months, developing a deep, nutty, sweet flavor. The complex composition of Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan earned the second-place award at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition.
Show attendees were also able to taste America’s tastiest new healthy snack, Cello Whisps. Cello Whisps have gained a strong national following among health conscious consumers who look for healthier snack options. Even the cheese experts love Cello Whisps; their delicious flavor earned the second-place award at the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.
Cello Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps – Cello Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps are an innovative snack made entirely of one delicious ingredient — 100 percent pure Parmesan cheese. Made with the award-winning Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan Cheese aged 14 months, Cello Whisps provide health conscious consumers of all ages with a healthy snack alternative that also taste great. Cello Whisps are all-natural wholesome crisps baked into flavorful, airy, crispy bites. They are an excellent source of protein and calcium, are gluten-free, and one serving is just 100 calories.
“We’re very excited about the success we achieved at the show and can’t wait to participate in the Summer Fancy Food Show in June. We will be showcasing our new Yellow Door Creamery Hand-Rubbed Fontina and Yellow Door Creamery Brilliant Blue cheeses at the summer show,” added Fischer. “We pride ourselves in offering new and innovative cheese products into the specialty market.”
Jarlsberg® Cheese Crisps™ are savory, crunchy baked crackers handcrafted in small batches and made with freshly shredded Jarlsberg Cheese sprinkled on top of the crunchy crackers just prior to being baked. New Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps takes the mild, mellow and nutty flavor of Jarlsberg Cheese and bakes it into a delicious crunchy snack. Each Crisp is topped with Jarlsberg Cheese, using the original Norwegian recipe, perfectly balanced with invigorating seasoning and spices for a savory, scrumptious and delectable bite.
Perfect for dipping, snacking, as part of a cheese board or as a crispy companion to a bowl of hot soup, Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps offer a variety of perfectly balanced flavors.
Jarlsberg Cheese Crisp flavors include: Rosemary & Olive Oil — perfectly balanced with invigorating rosemary and the subtle fruitiness of olive oil; Chipotle — thoughtfully paired with the natural smokiness of authentic chipotle and just the right amount of spiciness; Garlic & Herb — blended with the robust flavor of garlic and aromatic herbs, with Mediterranean Sea salt adding a burst of flavor. With only 120 calories or less per serving, only 3.5 or less grams of fat and 5 grams of protein and low cholesterol, these Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps are sure to fly off shelves in the deli section.
Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps have a suggested retail price of $3.99 – $4. 99 and are packed 12 bags per display ready case.
Face Rock Creamery announces the first allocation of its premium clothbound cheddar. The 14-month aged cheddar is available from the Face Rock website and through select retail locations including New Seasons and Market of Choice in Oregon and Washington.
“Clothbound cheddar is a rare tradition for American cheesemakers, especially in the West,” shares Face Rock Head Cheesemaker Brad Sinko. “It’s a process that requires equal parts quality ingredients, patience and no small amount of alchemy. Aging cheese reveals the quality of the milk we use, and the terroir of Oregon’s southern coast comes through in a rich, slightly grassy and nutty flavor.”
Sinko’s toolkit is simple – milk, salt and cultures. While most clothbound cheddars are formed into blocks, Face Rock forms its cheese into a wheel. And rather than coat the cloth binding with traditional lard or olive oil to promote the development of a porous rind that releases moisture, Sinko uses butter that he makes in house with the same milk that goes into Face Rock cheese.
Aging cheddar dramatically intensifies flavor and transforms the cheese into a creamy, slightly crumbly texture with small pockets of crunchy cheese crystals. After 14 months in a carefully controlled cave environment, Face Rock’s clothbound cheddar presents as a rich and exquisitely flaky cheese that delivers complex flavor. The deep creamy yellow hue of the cheese is the visual indicator of decadent high-quality butterfat content.
Butterfat quality is at the heart of any cheese’s flavor, and is linked directly to a dairy cow’s feed. Face Rock sources its milk from a single herd of Holstein, Brown Swiss and Jersey cows that graze year-round on nutrient-dense pastures located on Oregon’s rugged south coast, where nature simply has to work harder.
Rogue Creamery wins twice at the 2016 Good Food Awards for its Flora Nelle and Rogue River Blue cheeses. Over 800 people attended the celebration including Slow Food Founder Carlo Petrini and Alice Waters. The Good Food Awards honors companies who have a reputation for making tasty, authentic and socially responsible products. The competition featured 1,937 entries and showcased regional flavors from across the USA. Rogue Creamery distinguished itself, receiving top scores from the 215 judges and passing a rigorous vetting to confirm that it met the Good Food Awards Standards; these standards include environmentally sound agricultural practices, good animal husbandry, transparency, and responsible supply chain relationships. “I am honored to be among this group of cheese makers recognized for their fine cheeses and their holistic, organic, biodynamic and sustainable make processes. Today, Cheese is being recognized along with the practices connected to creating it, and Rogue Creamery is proud that we make our cheese sustainably and organically in the GMO free Rogue Valley. Thank you to those cheesemakers who are a part of this change and Good Foods for putting it into their judging criteria which I now refer to as their manifesto,” said David Gremmels, President and Cheesemaker during his speech at the Good Food Awards.
Rogue Creamery is joined by two other Oregon Cheese Guild cheesemakers: Ancient Heritage Dairy and Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese, who were also winners and are helping Oregon lead the way toward creating a vibrant, delicious and sustainable food system.
Flora Nelle: This organic, natural- rinded, blue is set with calf rennet, has a crumbly, yet creamy texture, and combines savory, tropical, and sweet cream flavors. The result is a robust and piquant blue with subtle hints of blueberry and a rind that enhances the spicy-nutty and intensely blue flavors that truly capture the Rogue Valley Terroir.
Rogue River: Made annually, starting on the autumnal equinox, it is produced at the turn of the season and is made with richer, late-season milk. This blue, finished with pear-brandy soaked grape leaves, has a decidedly complex flavor that reflects the unique seasonal influences of the Rogue River Valley.
By Lorrie Baumann
Cecylia Szewczyk is popping her buttons after the Emmental cheese made by her Sugarcreek team at Guggisberg Cheese was named the winner of the United States Championship Cheese Contest. The 200-pound wheel was chosen from among 1,894 entries in the contest, and it’s a cheese destined to lead Guggisberg Cheese’s product line in a direction that appeals to changing American tastes.
Of course, winning awards is nothing new for Guggisberg, which makes highly esteemed American Swiss-style cheeses that win championships almost routinely, but this award recognizes Guggisberg’s ability to turn its expertise toward traditional Swiss cheese styles with their robust flavors that were once considered too strong for American tastes. But as Americans have become more adventurous eaters, they’re demanding bolder flavors, and Emmental is back in favor. “In Switzerland, they are using different culture combinations that are able to break down the fat in cheese as it ages, and this produces the strongest notes that appreciated there. Here in the U.S. there is a tendency to use milder culture combinations that do not break down the fat , but more and more, Americans prefer pronounced flavors, and we would like to go in this direction,” Szewczyk explains.
Szewczyk led the team that developed the new cheese. Like the championship Emmental, she’s new to Guggisberg, although she’s been making cheese since 2006, when she was received her master’s degree in food biotechnology from the Polish university where she’d studied the food technology and food biotechnology. During the graduation ceremony in which she received her degree, she was approached by a Dutch company that was producing cultures for cheeses and offered a job immediately. She spent the next six years working in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and the Netherlands. Then the company sent her to Wisconsin to introduce its ingredients to the U.S. market. Two years later, the company’s management decided to change direction and scale back its efforts in the U.S. market.
By that time, though, Szewczyk had developed a friendly relationship with Guggisberg, which was one of her customers. “There was a mutual feeling,” she says. She approached Guggisberg with her thoughts about developing new cheeses, and the company took her on for a project that required testing a new pilot line that was an exact copy of the new production line Guggisberg Cheese was planning to install. “I came here, and we started playing with recipes,” she says. The 200-pound championship wheel was one of the first off that pilot line.
The winning Emmental was aged for just three months with a special cheese coating that allowed the cheese to breathe and release gases and moisture that naturally form within the cheese as it ages instead of the plastic wrapping that’s commonly used in the U.S. “There is a tremendous difference if you let cheese age the natural way, if there are no plastic bags to create a barrier,” Szewczyk says.
“The flavor that we managed to develop there was really outstanding. We were so happy,” she says. “We thought we wouldn’t stand a chance against other Emmentals because of the short aging. In only three months, we were able to develop the flavor. Considering the fact that this was one of the first trials, I’ll say we were very lucky.”
Arthur Schuman, Inc. will be showcasing its 2015 award-winning “Best of Class” cheeses at the Winter Fancy Food Show on January 17-19 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Arthur Schuman, Inc., a fourth-generation family company located in Fairfield, New Jersey, is recognized as a leader within the specialty cheese industry as both an importer and a producer of hard domestic cheeses for foodservice operators, retailers and distributors.
Arthur Schuman, Inc. invites you to stop by and taste these award-winning “Best of Class” cheeses that include:
Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan – This parmesan cheese has a unique rich and nutty flavor that earned a first place award at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition. Made with strict traditional methods, this award-winning cheese is produced in Arthur Schuman’s Lake Country Dairy facility using the highest quality milk. The cheese’s robust flavor and distinct color comes from our commitment to using a copper kettle in the cheese making process and natural sea salt in the brining process. Each wheel is hand selected by a team of expert cheese graders as soon as its flavor has reached the peak of perfection.
Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan – Produced by expert cheesemakers, Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan is made with the freshest milk from local Wisconsin farms and carefully crafted using traditional techniques. Each wheel is naturally aged for over 12 months, developing a deep, nutty, sweet flavor. The complex composition of Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan earned the second place award at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition.
Cello Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps – Cello Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps are an innovative snack made entirely of one delicious ingredient, 100 percent pure Parmesan cheese. Made with award-winning Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan Cheese aged 14 months, Cello Whisps provide health conscious consumers of all ages with a healthy snack alternative that also taste great. Cello Whisps are all-natural wholesome crisps baked into flavorful, airy, crispy bites. They are an excellent source of protein and calcium and are gluten free. One serving is just 100 calories.
Cello Whisps have gained a strong fan following: consumers try them once and fall in love. Even the cheese experts love Cello Whisps; their delicious flavor earned the second place award at the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.
“2015 was a very rewarding year for Arthur Schuman, and we are already looking forward to launching our new Yellow Door Creamery Hand-Rubbed Fontina and Yellow Door Creamery Brilliant Blue cheeses in 2016,” said lIana Fischer, Vice President of Innovation & Strategy at Arthur Schuman, Inc. “We pride ourselves in offering new and innovative cheese products into the specialty market.”
Arthur Schuman, Inc. will also be showcasing hand selected imported cheeses including Entremont, Dodoni, Brugge, Busti, Mario Costa, Zanetti, Garofalo, and Pastures of Eden.