Hello hello! It’s been a while. You were probably thinking I’d given up on making cheese… and I kind of did, too. But recently I got a second wind and now I’m back in the game. It was peer pressure. Left to my own devices, I would have let my molds molder and my cultures crumble, but a couple of cheese friends came to me with a fantastic idea for forming a cheesemaking club. A schedule, assignments, and a bunch of other people wanting to eat my cheese (ie: accountability) is just what I needed to get back to it.
We held a meeting of the founders (over a few wheels of homemade cheese, of course) and wrote up rules and regs, a schedule, and a list of invitees. We’re pretty exclusive; just ten or so hand-selected experienced cheesemakers from the San Francisco Bay Area. Best of all, we came up with a catchy name. We’re the League of Urban Cheesemakers! I think it makes us sound like superheros. Cheese superheros!
We jumped right in with our first recipe, which needs to be ready for our inaugural meeting at the end of August. Assignment #1 is a bloomy-rind, double-cream cheese (like Brie or Camembert). We’re all using the same recipe, which comes from “Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking” by Gianaclis Caldwell, but ingredients and equipment are all our own. So, there are about a million different variables in each League member’s make process that might push each cheese in one direction or another. When we all meet, it will be fascinating to compare notes and sink our teeth into the experiment.
I made my bloomy double-cream on July 29 and was happy with how the recipe worked. I had to go to Monterey for work the day the wheels came out of the molds though, and gravity turned them pear-shaped as they sat and dried, but that shouldn’t affect their flavor. Yesterday, I spotted some white fuzz forming on the exterior of the wheels, so we know the geotrichum and penicillium candidum are doing their thing. In a few days – when there’s a healthy coat of mold – I’ll wrap the wheels in cheese paper (which I was happy to find at a high-end kitchen store, Sign of the Bear, in Sonoma) and then wait for the big reveal at our first League meeting. I can’t wait! Sometimes, just like in cheesemaking, a little pressure is a good thing!