Friday, February 26, 2010

Manchego update

Wow, this manchego got moldy!  Trying to get a good olive oil rind is tough.  It had some moldy spots in the past and I just cleaned them off with brine.  The last time, I thought I would really make sure it didn't get mold on it by salting it and then rubbing olive oil on it.  The problem was that every time I cleaned it, the skin would come off - never establishing the rind and probably losing some cheese in the process.  I thought I could hit it hard with some salt and leave it for a week or so to really build up a rind I could wash off without sacrificing the rind... no such luck.

So, I cleaned it off again.  The rind still came off this time, losing quite a bit of the cheese in the process.  Also, I noticed the cheese has become relatively soft.  Interesting.  Well, this cheese has a long way to go still... so we'll see.  Maybe next time I'll just leave it as it is and if it turns out edible at the end of a few months, great, and therefore maybe I don't need to worry about the mold so much.  If not, I know I need to continually fight the mold.  This time, I'm going to do the salted olive oil rub again, but put it in the garage fridge.  Maybe the wine room is just too warm and the cooler temperature will keep the mold at bay... at least long enough to establish a good olive oil rind.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Saw Wicked

We saw Wicked on Sunday. What a fabulous show - definitely a must-see.  The tie-in's to the movie were fun to discover.  First we met Kurt and his wife, Dee, at the HiDive in San Francisco.  Even though it was pouring rain and Megan and I got drenched during the 7 block walk from the BART station, it was worth it.  The staff at the HiDive are lots of fun, the food was great, and the drinks even better.  We took an "interesting" cab ride to the theater and all thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Apparently cab drivers are quite a competitive group in The City.

The theater show (as opposed to the cab ride show), Wicked, reinforces the idea that there are always multiple perspectives to a story.  Sometimes I need reminding that there could always be an explanation I don't expect - and, as my dear 'ole dad taught me, never assume.  "You know what happens when you assume things..."  Many times I find that it's quite beneficial if I wait to get all the stories, or ask the right questions, to find those other perspectives.

Opened a brie

Partly I got anxious, but I also just wanted to see how the cheese was progressing on the inside. Since I have 3 going, I thought opening one wouldn't be a huge sacrifice... in the name of science. What I found was a normal brie crust as you can tell from the outside. Inside that was a very thin layer of creamy gooey brie. Inside that (majority of the cheese) was a still firm and kind of chalky but creamy (not gooey) cheese. The crust tasted fine. The gooey layer tasted great. The inside didn't taste very good. The first bite wasn't bad, but later bites were less desirable. Megan thought it smelled bad. Since I don't smell good, I couldn't tell. Maybe that was just her excuse to not try it. I'm sure she's scared to... and I don't blame her, I suppose.

At only 4 weeks old, I suppose I didn't expect too much for a cheese that is supposed to age 3 months. At least I confirmed they should get the full 3 months of aging before I open them up. For the one I opened, I took a slice out of the middle, pushed the two ends together, and re-wrapped. We'll see how that fares as well.

Speaking of wrapping. I tried the clear cellophane cheese wraps (supposedly meant for wrapping mold-ripened cheeses). I didn't wrap all the bries with this, I wrapped one with just this wrap, one with this wrap plus wax paper over it, and I kept one wrapped with wax paper. The cellophane ones had a ton of water droplets, whereas the wax paper seems to sort of absorb it and be happy. I thought the water droplets were probably bad, so I re-wrapped everything with just the wax paper.

Photo quality is poor since I used my phone that only wants to take 12k photos.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Weekend cheese updates

I did some work on the cheese this weekend:
wrapped bries and cleaned and oiled the manchego.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cheese aging lessons

Now that the cheeses have been around for at least a few weeks, I've learned a few things:

1. Bamboo mats are great for initial draining and drying, but not good for aging - they can harbor unwanted molds and such. I have to get some plastic mats for sure... in the meantime, small tupperware lids work.

2. Aging cheeses is smelly... or at least while the mold is forming. I'm hoping that after I wrap them, the smell won't be so strong - particuarly since they're in the wine room. This process is probably better off in the garage.

3. 9 is colder than 1 on the garage fridge. Ooops. The previous time I checked the bleu, I thought I would warm the fridge up a little - it was close to 40. Instead, I cooled it down closer to 30. I hope I didn't freeze the bleu and kill it. It sort of seemed fine, but I guess we'll see. Meanwhile, I warmed the fridge up - in the correct direction this time. Maybe I should bring it up into the wine room to check and make sure it's still happy.

That's all for now. Definitely fun mold management last night! Hopefully I haven't screwed up all the cheeses.