Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chèvre Noir

Chèvre Noir Goat Cheddar is one of the best cheddars I've ever tasted. Produced by Fromagerie Tournevent in Chesterville, Quebec, it is made from pasteurized goat milk and aged a minimum of one year.

This pale, slightly dry cheese is initially firm but will literally melted in your mouth. It has a wonderfully rich, creamy, nutty flavor that includes hints of caramel.

Lucie Chartier, René Marceau and Louise Lefebvre have been making Chèvre Noir for twenty years, during which time it has garnered a variety of awards at international cheese competitions, including more than one first place prize at the American Cheese Society annual competition.

The folks at Fromagerie Tournevent suggest serving Chèvre Noir with fresh fruit, port or a premium beer. At $25/lb, Chèvre Noir is more expensive than most other cheddars, but it is well worth the expense. It is absolutely fabulous.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wine and Children

Eric Asimov, wine writer for the NY Times, recently posted some interesting reflections on serving wine to one's teenaged children at home.

Asimov spoke with Dr. Paul Steinberg, a psychiatrist and former director of counseling at Georgetown University, about the best ways to prevent kids from binge drinking in high school and college. According to Steinberg, "The best evidence shows that teaching kids to drink responsibly is better than shutting them off entirely from it. You want to introduce your kids to it, and get across the point that that this is to be enjoyed but not abused."

Studies performed by Dr. George E. Vaillant, a Harvard psychiatry professor, showed that men who grew up in families where alcohol was forbidden at the table but was consumed outside the home apart from food were seven times more likely to become alcoholics than those who came from families where wine was served with meals but drunkenness was not tolerated. Vaillant told Asimov, "If you are taught to drink in a ceremonial way with food, then the purpose of alcohol is taste and celebration, not inebriation. If you are forbidden to use it until college then you drink to get drunk."

Asimov says that he is currently unsure about whether to serve wine to his teenaged sons at home. But he concludes, "my cautious opinion now is that my teenage sons have more to gain than to lose by having a taste of wine now and then with dinner." I would not have expected a well-known wine critic to be so hesitant to serve wine to his teenagers at home.

I have always assumed that I would give sips of wine to my daughters when they become teenagers. But I suppose one should definitely proceed with caution here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Philosophy and Wine Books

Peter Machamer, who is a philosopher of science, wine critic, bon vivant, and even Philosopher-in-Residence for the Attack Theatre Dance Company, has recently reviewed two new books on philosophy and wine at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

The books are Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine, edited by Barry C. Smith, and Wine and Philosophy: A Symposium on Thinking and Drinking, edited by Fritz Allhoff. (The philosopher Barry C. Smith is not to be confused with the philosopher Barry Smith. Only the latter holds world records both for the largest single grant ever given to a philosopher and for total grant money given to a philosopher.)

The book, Wine and Philosophy, is part of Blackwell's Epicurean Trilogy, which also includes Beer and Philosophy: The Unexamined Beer Isn't Worth Drinking and Food and Philosophy: Eat, Think, and Be Merry. These books do an entertaining job of promoting an expanded range of topics in value inquiry that receive sustained philosophical attention.

Some of my colleagues have suggested that I should propose and edit a Cheese and Philosophy volume in the series. Unfortunately, however, I keep my philosophizing and my cheese tasting fairly separate. Perhaps I should consider changing that (after tenure).

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wisconsin Cheese Map

Cheeselovers will be glad to know that the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board has just produced a new 2008 Traveler's Guide to America's Dairyland cheese map. You can order one online for free. I ordered mine last week.

Anyone attending the Wisconsin Epistemology Conference next month should consider including a tour of a great American creamery on their itinerary.

I like to pair wine and cheese tours with professional business whenever I can. For example, the last time the American Philosophical Association held its Pacific Division meeting in San Francisco, I included a two-day trip to Napa Valley. I don't make it out to Wisconsin very often, but hopefully I will be able to combine philosophy conferencing and Wisconsin cheese tasting soon.

Interested readers might also want to consult my earlier post on the Vermont Cheese Trail.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cypress Grove's Truffle Tremor

Truffle Tremor is the latest caseic creation from Cypress Grove Chèvre, one of American's leading makers of artisanal cheese. This soft-ripened goat milk cheese contains bits of truffle that impart a unique, earthy flavor.

Like the French Bucheron or Caña de Oveja, Truffle Tremor has a white, bloomy rind, a crumbly interior paste and a thin, gooey layer in between. The folks at Cypress Grove recommend adding Truffle Tremor to your favorite polenta or risotto recipe or placing a thin layer of it over mashed potatoes and parsnips.

Pair Truffle Tremor with a dry, white wine.