Plus 5 Things you probably didn’t know about California cheese
Last May, I was fortunate to join one of the best events I’ve attended so far in my decade long career as a food blogger – A Beer and Cheese tasting event by the California Milk Advisory Board (Real California Milk). To me it was one of the best because I got converted from a wine and cheese aficionado to a beer and cheese fanatic – and this was all because of California Milk Advisory Board’s resident “Cheese Dude” Chef Mark Todd. His “gospel” about California cheese that day blew me away.
Here are some interesting facts I learned during the session…
5. I learned that the USA produces more than 25% of all the cheeses on the planet.
– All these years, I never thought that the US is the biggest cheese producer in the world. I was expecting countries like France and Italy to be #1 but no – it’s the USA, followed by Germany.
With this, let’s now focus more on the USA then….
4. The number 1 cheese producing state in the USA is Wisconsin aka “America’s Dairyland” followed by California.
3. California is the #1 milk producer in the USA.
– California makes an ideal place to raise cows and operate dairy farms due to its large landmass. 19.6% of US milk comes from California. They also produce around 40.9Billion pounds of milk each year. Not only has California been the US’ largest milk producer for more than 20 years, but it’s also the #1 producer of butter, ice cream, non-fat dry milk and whey protein concentrate. They are also the 2nd largest producer of cheese and yoghurt.
Furthermore, fluid milk in California milk contains more protein, calcium and nutrients than milk that meets US federal standards – super awesome right?
2. California cheesemakers produce over 250 varieties and styles.
– The annual production of cheese in California alone is around 2.4 Billion pounds. Majority of these producers make mozzarella (58.6%) followed by cheddar, Monterey Jack, Hispanic style and other varieties. As an added trivia, the Monterey Jack is a California original, created over 200 years ago.
Always look for the REAL CALIFORNIA MILK seal to be sure your cheese is made with milk from California’s 1,300 dairy families.
1. That Beer and Cheese is a much more natural pair than wine
– Wait. What? I’m familiar with wine and cheese, but BEER and CHEESE?
… well apparently, their Cheese Dude, Chef Mark Todd wasn’t joking. According to him, historically, beer has long been around compared to wine. Long long ago, Europeans opted to drink beer instead of water because it was safer (potable water was unheard of then).
Try to sip your favourite white wine with your nose covered, and you’ll realize that it has no taste at all. Yes, you’ll get to taste the astringency of its acid, but that’s about it. According to Mark, wine is almost 100% aromatics. Try to open your nose, and a million flavours show up. Only aged wines go well with cheeses though. Pair it with a glass of young red wine and the cheese will taste bitter.
Beer, on the other hand, will go right through to your palette whether your nose is closed or not. The flavour of malt and cheese is magic!
To further convert us into Beer and Cheese fans, they even prepared a beer and cheese tasting session as part of the workshop. We were each given plates with eight kinds of cheeses and local craft beers. Chef Mark Todd guided us throughout the tasting. He said that Beer and Cheese pairings are quite a thing now around the world, and it’s high time for us beer-loving Pinoys to discover it too!
1. Marin French Triple Creme Brie + Engkanto Pale Ale
This pair had a pleasant beginning with a mild finish. Yeasty, buttery, fluorescently aromatic – it was like tasting a misty forest. I actually liked it!
2. Rogue Creamery Chocolate Stout + Kalinga Kolsch
This salty and sharp 4-month old cheddar partnered well with Kalinga Kolsch’s crisp, clean taste. It produced a mother lode of flavour that’ll keep you asking for more.
3. Marin French Breakfast Cheese + Lapu Lapu Lager
I’d say it was more like a holy union of crisp, clean lager, and sweet-sour soft cheese. This pair was one of my favourites! Exquisite, case closed.
4. Rogue Creamery Rosemary Cheddar + Fish Rider Pale Ale
Another fun, aromatic, almost ambrosial pairing with an exceptional finish. Btw, Pale Ales go well with cheddar
5. Point Reyes Toma + Dumaguete Dubble
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a good match because it didn’t compliment each other. Next!
6. Fiscalini Bandaged Wrapped Cheddar + Dark Hat Porter
This mature sharp cheddar cheese is considered as “the greatest cheese in the planet.” Even our Cheese Dude Chef Mark, couldn’t believe it would go well with this coffee tasting beer like the Dark Hat Porter. Such a surprising pair with a carousel of flavours!
7. Vela Dry Jack + Cerveza Sagada Saison
This Vela Dry Jack is my personal favourite among all due to its nutty yet smooth buttery round flavour. Thank God it paired well with this somewhat funky tasting Cervesa Sagada Saison. To me, it produced a whirling dance/tarantella on the tongue experience.
8. Point Reyes Original Blue + Exit Wounds IPA
I usually do not like IPAs, but it did produce an intense umami sensation when paired to this blue cheese. An A-bomb of yumness! I didn’t expect it at all.
This whole event was so life-changing for me that now, I always have a regular stock of beers and cheeses in my ref at home. There’s so much more to taste and discover about beer and cheeses, and I find it super fun!- this adventure to me has just begun!
Thank you Cheese Dude, Chef Mark Todd and to the California Milk Advisory Board for this awesome experience!
BTW, next time you go to the supermarket, look for the REAL CALIFORNIA MILK Seal to ensure that you get the best California produced cheese possible. You may find them at the ff stores and supermarkets nationwide:
S&R Membership Shopping, Royal Duty-Free, Landers Superstore, SM Hypermarket, Merkado / Puregold Price Club, Cash & Carry, Rustans Supermarket, Robinsons Supermarket, Unimart Supermarket, SM Supermarket, Makati Supermarket and Landmark Supermarket.
For more information, follow Real California Milk Philippines on Facebook.