Episode 105: How to Choose An Artisan Cheese Part 2 with Vanessa Chang, ACS Certified Cheese Professional

Tuesday, September 4, 2018
We continue with our interview with Vanessa Chang, ACS Certified Cheese Professional, and she tells us her guidelines for choosing a cheese if you are new to the world of artisan cheeses. She also gives us a taste of producers and agers that she is excited about and shares some of the cheese combinations you can try at your next party. Sharon also talks about a camping French Press coffee maker and Winter tells us all about capers and caper berries.

Let's taco 'bout it!

Photography courtesy of Jez Timms

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Let's taco 'bout it!

  • We continue our interview with Vanessa Chang for Part 2. If you haven't heard Part 1 with Vanessa, you can listen here.
  • What can I start out if I want to try artisan cheeses? Vanessa suggests asking questions, especially since you're trying to learn. There are no stupid questions. The only thing that cheesemongers may not totally love, are the know-it-all customers.
  • Tip 1: Start with what you know when it comes to choosing cheeses. For example, if you are used to block cheddar, tell the cheesemonger what you are familiar with, and he/she can suggest a mind-blowing version, that may be aged longer, maybe doesn't have annatto (used to color cheeses), or possible in wheel or truckle form.
  • By the way, all cheese has a place!

Photography courtesy of Chris Ralston

  • Tip 2: Acknowledge what makes a cheese good. There are different characteristics to cheeses that make them good. Don't go "ew" (you'll offend the cheesemonger)!
  • What is the crunch or those "freckles" in cheese? Vanessa tells us it's not mold. It's the amino acid tyrosine. As a cheese ages, the enzyme in the cheese breaks down fats and proteins (amino acids) and there is water loss as it ages, which causes the tyrosine crystals becomes more apparent.
  • Cheese-making is controlled spoilage (David Chang calls it controlled rot).
  • Rockhill Creamery is a US-based cheesemaker that does everything in the cheesemaking process.
  • What cheese producers are you excited about: Vanessa's desert island cheeses are alpine cheeses such as Comte (goes well with coffee). She especially loves the Marcel Petite Comte. Producers: Jasper Hill out of Vermont has a cheese called the Harbison that she likes. The side is wrapped in strips of spruce. (They also have a Cabot Clothbound cheddar cheese, which is also good.)

Photography courtesy of Marc Babin

Photography courtesy of Brooke Lark

Capers (front) and caper berries (back)

Run Time: 46 minutes

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