Swiss Bliss

As many cheese professionals know, Oxford University Press is in the process of compiling the first Oxford Companion to Cheese. If it’s even half as good as OUP’s corresponding works for beer (edited by Garrett Oliver) and wine (edited by Jancis Robinson), this encyclopedia will be a must-have reference.

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Ash is Back

Remember the missing Morbier? Over the past two years, the FDA detained several imported cheeses because they contained vegetable ash, an ingredient the agency considered a non-permitted colorant. Never mind that European cheesemakers have been using ash for centuries—largely to make the surface of acidic cheeses more hospitable to good molds. Numerous scientific reviews have found nothing scary about ash.

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It’s Official: Time for Cheese

Although every month is American Cheese Month at my house, October is officially American Cheese Month. Why October? I have no clue, but your local cheese shop is probably using the opportunity to showcase more domestic selections than usual. Go buy something you’ve never tried.

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Wisconsin Newbie Worth the Splurge

In my dreams, the U.S. will someday produce aged sheep’s milk cheeses that rival the finest from Europe—the Basque cheeses from the Pyrenees; the pecorinos from Tuscany, Sicily and Sardinia; the Manchego, Roncal and Zamorano from Spain. We are getting close on quality, but I’m not sure we’ll ever compete on price. Europe’s cheesemakers typically have lower land and labor costs and fewer costly regulations. In some cases, they benefit from government-funded marketing support and operate at a volume that makes for efficiencies.

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