Yesterday, I hosted the first of what I hope to be many cheese demonstrations. As an active member in Slow Food DC, the event was open to 15 Slow Food DC members. My kitchen was just big enough to accommodate 15 people plus my husband and me. We started the event with a milk tasting. I get my raw cow's milk from a farm in Catlett and I pick up my raw goat's milk in Nokesville. Many people were surprised by the sweetness of the goat's milk. The cow and the goat's milk were both very fresh as the animals had been milked only two days before the event.
We talked cheese and everyone was really great at asking questions. It is always fun to interact with new people and I love talking cheese. We then moved into making 30 minute mozzarella. I used a gallon of raw cow's milk to make the cheese and added citric acid and rennet. The milk is so good and fresh that I forms a curd easily. I pulled and stretched the 110 degree curd by hand which is hot hot work. A few attendees tried their hand at pulling the curd. I couldn't seem to decide if I wanted to make a ball, small balls, or a braid. It may not have been the prettiest mozzarella but it was tasty. I did not add any salt but will in the future.
Then we tasted some cheese! We sampled some of my chevre which was made 5 days prior to the event. The next cheese was a commercially available chevre from a producer in Maryland. Many were surprised by how mild and creamy my cheese was especially when compared to the goatier commercial chevre. It all comes down to the freshness as chevre will become goatier as it ages. Then we sampled Gervais, a fresh French cow's milk cheese that is enriched with cream. This cheese had a wonderful butter yellow color which comes from the beta carotene in the grass fed cow's milk. Next we tasted Bondon which is very similar to Gervais but without the added cream. We moved into our flavored cheeses with Porcini Bondon and Rosemary Feta. I had been unhappy with my last two batches of Rosemary Feta but everyone at the event really loved this cheese just the way it was. The last cheese we tasted was Gjetost which I made from boiling goat's whey for about 12 hours and added cow's cream around hour 6. This cheese surprised a lot of people with its sweet savory flavor combinations.
It was so valuable for me to get feedback on my cheeses from a room full of strangers. Sometimes I think my husband and friends are just saying they like my cheese because they like me. At the end of the event, people wanted cheese and I had some to give them. I collected some donations and people were very generous. The event was fun and mutually beneficial. I hope to host another one in June and all proceeds will go toward opening my cheese making facility.
This is the recommend reading list from the cheese event. These books really helped me learn about cheese and how to make cheese. I must also mention culture magazine which you can follow on Facebook and Cheese Enthusiast, another great publication.
The Atlas of American Cheese by Jeffrey P. Roberts ISBN 978-1-933392-34-9 This book lists cheese producers by state and includes information on touring cheesemakers.
Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll ISBN 978-1-58017-464-0 This book has many wonderful recipes including the 30 minute mozzarella recipe. I also get most of my cheesemaking supplies from her website http://www.cheesemaking.com/
Making Artisan Cheese by Tim Smith ISBN 978-1-59253-197-4 This book has 50 great recipes.
The Cheese Chronicles by Liz Thorpe ISBN 978-0-06-145116-4 This book is such a fun read and you learn a lot about American cheesemakers.
Cheese & Wine by Janet Fletcher ISBN 978-0-8118-5743-7 This book in beautiful and informative.
Cheese by Max McCalaman & David Gibbons ISBN 1-4000-5034-0 Another cheese porn book full of pretty pictures and great information.
The Cheese Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst ISBN 978-0-06-053704-3 This is a cheese dictionary and covers a variety of cheese related terms.
Fundamentals of Cheese Science which is an Aspen Publication and 4 co-authors which is why I am not listing them all ISBN 0-8342-1260-9 This is my hardcore cheese textbook.
If you would like to host a Cheese Demonstration! at my place or yours, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post a message below. The demo runs about 2 hours with an additional hour and a half for set up and includes making mozzarella, milk tasting, cheese tasting, and a cheese discussion with Q&A. The total cost for the event is $100 for a group of up to 15 people and covers the cost of all cheese making ingredients, equipment, and time. Travel may be additional depending on location.