Monday, July 20, 2009

SF Cheese School 3-Day Intensive

In late spring of this year, I was fortunate enough to attend The Cheese School of San Francisco's 3-Day Intensive Education Seminar lead by Daphne Zappos, founder of Essex Street Cheese Company. The curriculum covered everything including the history of cheese and cheesemaking techniques, pairing, quality control and service, and most importantly the American cheese movement. We had two "field trips" during the seminar; the first to Rose Pistola restaurant where we had a group dinner including cheese service. For our second off-site visit we went to Cheese Plus in Russian Hill where we toured the store and listened to an extremely informative lecture by owner Ray Bair on the ins and outs of running a successful cheese shop.

The seminar was really well put together in terms of the educational aspect, and I felt I gained important knowledge in every area of the cheese world that would be important to someone in my position. On top of that it afforded me the opportunity to meet some important (and very interesting) people in the industry, some of whom I've since done business with.

However, great educational and business opportunity aside, my absolutely favorite part about cheese school was the chance to try approximately 80 different cheeses in 3 days. That's truly heaven for a cheese junkie like me! What were my favorite cheeses, you ask? Here are my top 3:

1. L'Amuse Gouda: A wonderfully nutty, caramel flavored aged Gouda that would pair nicely with espresso. This special cheese starts out as a 2-month old wheel from Beemster and is lovingly nurtured and matured to perfection over a 2 year period by Betty Koster of Framagerie l'Amuse.

2. Cone de Port Aubry: The attack on this semi-hard goat's milk cheese is reminiscent of sea-salt, followed by a milky, mushroomy flavor. The rind provides a peppery note at the end. Absolute perfection, we're looking forward to adding this one to our case in the fall of 2009!

3. Cabbot Clothbound Cheddar: The first thing I noticed about this cheddar is its delightful aroma which brings to mind freshly cut grass and pineapple. The skillful maturation of this cheese at Jasper Hill Farm gives it its parmesan-like texture and the bursting flavor crystals which are enough to send any cheese junkie over the edge. This is a delicious cheese with a great story (see my upcoming post - an interview with Jack Deen of Jasper Hill). Cabot Clothbound made its debut at our store in June at our 50th anniversary party and was a huge success!

All in all, my 3 days at cheese school were some of the most memorable in my career to-date...


  1. What fun that was! I'm still craving the Port Aubry! Hope all is well girl!


  2. I love the Blog! And I love your descriptions of the cheeses!