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Cheese-obsessed

I'm cheese-obsessed and looking for a variety of ways to cure that obsession.

I've searched whole foods upcoming classes and none of them involve cheese-tastings. I am looking for something like the cheese tastings at the Artisanal in NYC. I do realize I am not in NYC, but are there knowledgable people doing tastings in Austin?

Also, I'm interested in working with cheese. I want to learn by doing -- whether that is as a cheesemonger or a cheesemaker, I am not picky. Anything like that available in Austin?

And for those of you in the potential "know" -- is there anything I should be studying or learning to have an "in?" I'm pretty knowledgable in the basics of cheese, but I'm itching to know more.

Anyone know why there aren't any stand-alone cheese-shops in austin?

Thanks

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  1. http://www.purelucktexas.com/index.htm

    Visit the website of our very own internationally recognized dairy in nearby Dripping Springs.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/335546

    Or get thee to one of our local restaurants in the above link and share Austin's love affair with Queso

    1 Reply
    1. re: scrumptiouschef

      No, no queso for me....I mean, I love queso, but right now I am looking for a much snootier version of cheese. I want cheese classes, I want giant wooden platters of stinky cheese with impossible-to-pronounce names, I eventually want to be behind the scenes and I want to know what I need to get there. I am going to check out pure luck -- hopefully they have a cheese making class there that will get my goat.

    2. Hey meetmeat: I remember reading that Central Market is having an international beer and artisinal cheese tasting sometime next month but i believe the cost was $50 or so and of course these are pairings, not just the cheeses on their own. If this interests you, you might call and check it out. I much prefer the cheese section at CM (N. Lamar) to the one at WF for some reason... I think it's because there is one cheesemonger there (olive skinned bloke with glasses and [French Algerian?] accent) who gets really excited about the cheeses. I remember recently I was looking for a particular goat cheese and somehow he and I ended up in a little convo about the glories of Humboldt Fog. Those are the kinds of things that make me want to buy cheese from them. The people at our WF (So. Lamar), in my experience, seem like they're just there to do a job. Now I was at WF in NYC in June and that was a different story: their separate tasting room was amazing and the staff was much more enthusiastic about cheese than the staff I've encountered at Austin WF, especially considering this is their headquarters! But I digress. Best of luck to you meatmeet. I hope you are able to find/create some great cheeese in Austin. And don't forget to hit up central market for their Canadian Oka; havent found it anywhere else in town for some reason and it is top notch.

      1 Reply
      1. re: femmenikita

        Thanks so much -- this is exactly the kind of info i'm looking for!

      2. Off the OP's topic, but still on fromage, does anyone know where to find Hooligan? I had some at a restaurant in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and this thread reminded me that I need to look for it here. Guidance appreciated.

        1. Of course, you might also consider picking up a book and giving it a whirl at home. Some of the fresh cheeses aren't too complicated (of course, getting it right is challenging) and that could be a starting point. Might want to take this over to the Home Cooking board though ... and you could also check out this thread I came across on another (unmentionable?) site: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...

          I actually think I might prefer the cheese selection at Central Market over WF too (as mentioned above). I recently tried their own fresh mozz which was also really quite good.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Nab

            Two suggestions: First, go to the Sunset Valley farmer's market on Sat morning. There are a few artisinal cheesemakers usually there including sometimes a Pure Luck booth. Maybe they'd invite you out to participate at the farm.

            Second, in addition to Central Market N. Lamar, check out Grapevine Market off Anderson Lane just east of Mopac. They have a smaller but exceptional cheese dept and very enthusiastic and helpful staff. Don't know if they offer classes or not on cheese. I'm assuming a cheese only retailer simply wouldn't make it in Austin - need wine or other specialty foods along with it.

            1. re: boshtx

              If I were to ever do a retail shop in austin, it would be a specialty shop, though likely not wine.

              Good idea about grapevine and I'm reminded that specs has a good specialty section as well.

              1. re: boshtx

                I second that--SSV market has a cheese booth every week from Full Quiver Farms. They have some great firm cheeses as well as soft spreads. I like the white cheddar and the colby.
                Pure Luck Farms has not been there this year, much to everybody's dismay. But the good news is that their time off is for a good cause--instead of selling off the baby goats this year, they have decided to keep them and enlarge their herd. Therefore, there is less milk for cheese since the babies are drinking it. (This FFA moment coming from a city boy w/ no knowledge of animal husbandry, so please forgive me if this terminology is inaccurate.) I believe they are still filling orders for WF and CM. I look forward to their return to the market.

            2. Austin Homebrew Supply carries cheesemaking supplies. The guys there are very down-to-earth and friendly when I go there with homebrewing questions, so maybe hit them up with your cheese curiosities.

              http://www.austinhomebrew.com/index.p...

              1. The Westgate Central Market has a cheese and wine tasting bar next to the wine section. It has "cheese flights" and the wine by the glass is cheap compared to others in town. You might give it a try. It is open from noon-8:00 I believe.

                1. I am a fromagier in Fredricksburg TX and I often do cheese and wine tastings. Every Sat. the shop I work at has some kind of event going on. This weekend (11-7-09) I will be making cheese hor d'ors and using different wines to go with these. It is not as extravagant as Artisinal, but it is generally fun and informative.

                  1. There is a cheese shop opening in Austin called Antonelli's Cheese. Unsure of what part of town or when they'll open. http://www.antonellischeese.com/

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Kaya_n_Austin

                      I understand it's being opened by John Antonelli at the Duval Center in Hyde Park.

                      1. re: Kaya_n_Austin

                        i subscribed to their newsletter, and got an update today.
                        here is an excerpt:

                        "Without further ado, we introduce Kelly Sheehan!...Kelly got hired in the cheese department of a grocery store in Austin that carries over 700 cheeses and her education was under way. For the past three years, she has been lead cheesemonger of a team of 9 people. In 2008, she was awarded a scholarship from the American Cheese Society and attended her first conference....

                        Construction continues and is on schedule, so we plan on being your personal cheesemongers soon."

                        I'm looking forward to trying this place out, as it seems they really want to be a true cheesemonger.

                        1. re: dinaofdoom

                          I've never been to a real cheesemonger, so I look forward to their opening. It's a shame that they're tucked away on Duval though, which is off the beaten path for anyone who doesn't live in that area.

                          1. re: verily

                            i used to live in boston, and miss formaggio kitchen...
                            and yeah, it will be a hike for me because i am an uptown girl but i will totally do it at least once just to check them out.

                        2. re: Kaya_n_Austin

                          It looks like they're projecting a Feb. 11th opening, according to the newsletter I just got from them.

                          1. re: verily

                            yes, i got the email that mentioned they opened on the 11th and have been crazy-busy ever since.

                            unfortunately, i will not be able to visit this weekend, but hope to try them out next weekend when i have a cheese-loving friend visiting.

                        3. It is pretty odd that Austin hosted the American Cheese Society's conference here in town last August and yet apparently has not a single free-standing retail fromagerie. I'm looking forward to the opening of Antonelli's Cheese, as I'm not always happy with the pickings at Central Market and Whole Foods. Some random cheese musings follow:

                          The folks at renowned Three Shepherds Cheese are offering a special "Learn to Make Artisanal Cheese" this coming April 2010 at Twin Oaks Ranch in South Texas.

                          http://www.threeshepherdscheese.com/C...

                          For a little cheesemaking follow-your-bliss inspiration, you might wish to lay hands on a DVD of "The Cheese Nun" She didn't "Dominique," like the Singing Nun, just dived into fromages like the Pont-l'Évêque:

                          http://www.fucheese.com/blog/2009/04/...

                          In the meantime, the folks at Slow Food Dallas have put together links to Texas cheesemakers that may be of interest:

                          http://www.slowfooddallas.com/sfdTexa...

                          In fact, big D seems to revel in big cheese; they have at least 3 interesting cheese shops that I know of:

                          http://www.moltoformaggio.com/

                          http://scardellocheese.com/

                          http://www.mozzco.com/

                          Nevertheless, Houston wins out with me when it comes to a tête-à-tête over a cheese plate. I like the one offered at Cafe Rabelais in Rice Village in Houston. I've tried cheese plates in Austin - most recently Mulberry's - and I've as of yet to find one as authentic, generous and value priced as the one at Cafe Rabelais.

                          http://www.caferabelais.com/Cheese%20...

                          However, if armchair travel is more your speed, an interesting mail order source outside of Texas is DiBruno's in Philadelphia. (Folks have opinions stronger than Stichelton as to their favorite fromage order source, so I'm sure you'll hear from others.)

                          http://www.dibruno.com/

                          Finally, if you can get friendly with French (or at least with Google Translate), Montreal's La fromagerie Hamel offers a fantastic online cheese catalogue, featuring over 1000 products, that is an education unto itself. I visited Montreal earlier this month and La fromagerie Hamel was one of my favorite cheese destinations.

                          http://www.fromageriehamel.com/en/pro...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: xalapenocharlie

                            thanks for the great reply with lots of info.
                            i emailed pureluck about classes, but never got a response.
                            oh well, at least now i know there are lots of other options!

                            1. re: dinaofdoom

                              I took the Pure Luck class a few years back and it was great. They do it in May each year, after the kids are born. They'll put the info up on their website when it gets closer.

                              1. re: ladylivewire

                                ohhhhh i didn't realize it was a once a year thing.
                                makes sense, given the seasons, now that i think about it.
                                i guess i was too early with my email!

                          2. I'm a native New Yorker and also crazy about cheese--I took lots of classes at Murray's Cheese in the Village, and I have to say I don't think you'll find anything close to that here. I've spoken to the cheesemongers at both Whole Foods and Central Market, and it's just not the same. They have nowhere near the depth of knowledge that you'll find in NYC. (Though I have high hopes for this new place opening in Hyde Park--so exciting!)

                            If you are really serious about cheese, I'd take a trip to NYC and take some classes at Murray's! Those classes were incredible.

                            1. Antonelli's Cheese Shop will start offering weekly classes in a month or so. Robert told me he and his wife have been working long hours just getting the shop up and going. I got a great Cowgirls Creamery 'Red Hawk' triple cream as well as some sopresseta there Tuesday. They don't have a big selection but everything chosen looks really top notch. They sell bottles of wine and some charcuterie (great looking prosciutto!) and are delighted to offer tastings of all their cheeses.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: chascates

                                Finally made it by Antonelli's last Friday and picked up the two currently featured cheeses: a goat's milk gouda, which is outstanding eaten out of hand with some ice-cold, garlicky gherkins, and a "3 milk" cheese, a curdy, soft, spreadable blend which I believe is comprised of goat, sheep, and cow's milk. Wasn't a huge fan of the 3-milk once I got it home; for me, the ricotta-like texture didn't marry well with strong flavour and odor. I like my stinky cheeses to be a bit more firm. But the real winner out of my purchases-- and the real reason I'm posting this-- was some of the best dolce gorgonzola I've tasted. The tang of blue and salt up front, a creamy, lip-smacking middle, and an astonishing sweet (but not cloying) finish. Have you (like myself) ever dreamed about making "Chowhound Joe's Famous Toasted Pistachio/Gorgonzola Dolce Risotto"?? I can't begin to express my excitement at having found the perfect cheese to finally make this dish!:

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2889...

                                Also, the cheesemongers are wicked friendly, and the rumors that they will let you taste pretty much everything in the case are quite true. You give them your name if you like, and they create a cheese profile for you in their database (presumably to record your favorites and not-so-favorites). They even made a point of saying goodbye and using my name when I left, even though I'd given my name quite a few minutes beforehand. Friendly service and GOOD CHEESE. Hightail it on over there.

                                1. re: femmenikita

                                  I would have to ditto both chascates and femmenikita. The only difference was we chose different cheeses. Went with the Humbolt Fog, a Cabot chedder, a washed rind stinky cheese and some fennel salami. All were excelent. We also grabbed a bottle of wine and a baguette. We went next door to Dolce Vita. They opened our wine and offered up a couple of wine glasses. They did not bat an eye. What a fantastic afternoon.