Say Cheese!

American Cheese Society Conference, Seattle WA 2010

If you love cheese (and who doesn't), Seattle was the place to be as the Emerald City played host to the leading cheese artisans from the US, France, Holland and Canada.

The American Cheese Society’s annual meeting played host there to hundreds of its members from two-person farm creameries to the legendary cheese firms of Europe.  Topics presented included the Terroir of American Cheese, Marketing Cheese in the Age of Twitter, Global Cheese Trends, The Art of Affinage and Learning Lessons from France to name only a few.

Among the many amazing individuals present it was a pleasure to talk with Martijn Bos of Boska Holland and Max McCalman, author of Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maitre Fromager.  

MEET: Martijn Bos of Boska Holland

Wilem Bos created the first cheese plane (thank you thank you) in his blacksmith shop in 1896.  Perfectly located in Bodegraven near Gouda, Netherland (yes, Virginia there really is a city named Gouda in Holland where the cheese comes from), the Bos family has continued their tradition of producing quality cheese tools. 

Guided today by Martijn Bos, this hallmark company presented several items that created quite a stir at the Conference:  a raclette, the cheese curler and the new barbeclette.

Don’t worry if some of these cheese tools are unfamiliar to you.  Martijn Bos is working hard to make them available in America.

Meet the raclette and its country cousin, the barbeclette.  Most people have only seen a raclette in European restaurants where skilled servers heat the surface of a flavorful cheese and then scrap the melted cheese onto steamed vegetables.

Martijn Bos, who also owns a seaside restaurant, wanted to take this concept outside.  He designed a small melting tray that can be used over a campfire or backyard grill.  The result is a culinary delight.

Equally amazing is Boska’s cheese curler.  Traditionally called a “tete de moine” or monk’s head, the curler is designed with a round wooden base with a pointed spike.  A round hard flat-topped cheese (hence the reference to a shaved  monk’s head) is centered on the spike and pressed down onto the wooden base.

A sharp knife with a metal loop at the end is placed on the spike and slide down to rest on the cheese.  The knife is then slowly rotated cutting a long thin ribbon of cheese.  The result is a beautiful ruffled rose made entirely of cheese!  Stunning and tasty.

One can only say thanks to Boska Holland for crafting these innovative cheese tools that continues his family's great culinary commitment.

MEET: Max McCalman, author of Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maitre Fromager     

While Martijn Bos shared the best of European cheese tools with Conference attendees, Max McCalman offered ACS members an exciting new book on everything cheese.    

Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maitre Fromager is simply the most definitive book on cheese available today.  It’s a must-have for any cheese lover.

Max McCalman has the resume (and then some) that qualifies him to be the only individual who could write this outstanding book.  As America’s first restaurant-based Maitre Fromager and then as a Garde et Jure in France’s famed Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, he is a legend within the cheese world.  He is currently the Dean of Curriculum at Artisanal Premium Cheese Center in New York City.

With all that background, Max's goal in writing this remarkable book was to share an in-depth understanding of all things cheese.   His insightful chapters include such topics as where does flavor come from, how to make cheese (even at home), what you do need to know when buying (or judging) a cheese, which wine (and beers) go with what cheeses (and why), understanding artisan cheeses in the US and abroad and much, much more.  

Max is as charming as his book and an absolute delight to talk with.  He’s a man that’s found his passion.  

I promise that once you start reading this new culinary classic, you’ll be sure to say, “More cheese please”.  Hurray for Max and thank you for a remarkable job well done. 

Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2010

Posted on September 1, 2010 and filed under Cheese.