Cheese It

Premier Cheese Market adds new life to the old milk scene

Liss told me, however, that he wasn't as happy with the condition of the Sainte-Maure as I was: If he had really been on the ball, he would have been patting the mold down by hand every three days or so, and turning it, to encourage the mold to be less bloomy, and harder. That is the true art of affinage—aging cheese. If I really wanted to explore affinage, Liss told me, I could take a fresh log of Sainte-Maure home, empty out a crisper drawer for it, and pat and turn it over the course of perhaps two weeks; if I did this, I would truly come to know how chèvre ages. (I could do the same thing with Valencay, $10, the classic pyramid-shaped French chèvre that Premier also sells.)

Better yet, you could experiment with, personalize, even make the one and only, on God's green earth of some washed-rind cheese. Intrigued? Here's how it would work. You would buy a young whole cheese such as Affidelice (about 7 ounces for $10.70), and you would take the golden little French cheese, which is traditionally made by "washing" the rind with Chablis, and you would spend about two weeks aging it in your vegetable crisper drawer, spritzing it every couple of days with a spray bottle filled with your choice of wine or spirit, and flipping it over. Liss told me he did this once with an Affidelice and a three-to-one solution of water and Knob Creek bourbon, finally pairing the cheese with snifters of bourbon.

Ken Liss of Premier Cheese Market: "Cheddar and beer are the best of friends"
Jana Freiband
Ken Liss of Premier Cheese Market: "Cheddar and beer are the best of friends"

I like the idea of this as an ultra-gourmand hobby: On the one hand, you'd join a cheese-eating elite of perhaps a dozen Minnesotans crazy enough to become affineur to their own French cheese; on the other hand, it sounds like it takes about three minutes every three days, which is my kind of time commitment. If it's your kind of time commitment also, please know you could do this not just with your favorite whiskey, but with Summit, with any wine, heck, with Captain Morgan or Malibu if the mood strikes you. After all, it's your summer, and if there are lesser cheeses to be eaten, shouldn't they be ones you will remember for the rest of your life?

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