Food, ZingLife, Food Artisans

Attention Cheesemakers & Mongers: A Cheese Mold Workshop!

The life of a cheese rind

If you are a cheesemaker, cheesemonger, or simply a fermented curd enthusiast, you won’t want to miss this unique educational opportunity. We are very pleased to welcome noted Harvard mycologist Dr. Benjamin Wolfe to the Zingerman’s Deli for a very special workshop on the subject of cheese molds. At the end of the this four-hour class, guests will have a much more in-depth understanding of cheese mold.Dr Ben Wolfe

Dr. Wolfe will take us on a microscopic journey into this wild world, exploring the diversity and management of cheese rind microbes.  During the workshop, Dr. Wolfe will discuss:

  • Demystifying cheese mold names and taxonomy
  • The natural history and identification of significant cheese molds
  • The function of cheese molds in flavor, aesthetics, and shelf life
  • Mycotoxins
  • The interactions between molds and other cheese microbes, such as yeasts and bacteria
  • The various approaches to mold management in cheese ecosystems
  • Identifying and harnessing wild cheese molds for the American microbial terroir

Guests are encouraged to bring along problematic or interesting rinds for Dr. Wolfe to examine. If you make cheese, bring that along as well!

Dr. Wolfe has worked with several cheesemakers, including Jasper Hill. He’s taught classes about food microbiology at Harvard Summer School, and the San Francisco Cheese School, and is a regular contributor to Lucky Peach magazine.

Call 734-663-3400 to reserve a seat or online.

Don’t miss it!

Food, Food Artisans

A Personal and Professional Perspective on American Cheese

Five Reasons Why I’m Convinced That American Cheese is on the Road to Greatness

When we first opened Zingerman’s in 1982, we sold just a handful of American-made cheeses. Today, we turn away American cheeses that are better than most of what was available when we first opened. There are so many wonderful, hand-crafted cheeses being made in this country that we’re hard-pressed to keep our selection at a manageable level.

The energy, the interest, the commitment to better American cheese is all around me. I can see it in the cheesemakers. There’s more of them all the time, more committed to making the best-tasting cheese they can make. I can see it in the people who come to Zingerman’s to buy cheese. They’re inter- ested, they’re intrigued, they want to learn, they like to taste. They like to eat good cheese.

As a nation, we often have a hard time com- ing to consensus. But once we decide that we’re going to do something, we do it faster than almost any people on earth. You can see it with American wines. Forty years ago, the French laughed at them. Today they sell our wines in Paris. American cheeses are on the road to greatness, too. And they’re moving fast.

There’s a lot of talk these days of “American decline” the “end of an era.” H ow terrible it is that we have to “accept limits.” I beg to differ. Times change. And change can be very good thing. The truth is that we aren’t pioneers anymore. There are no more plains to cross. We can’t conquer nature. There is an age of new limits upon us. But as we accept these new limits of our lives, we are now free to look inward, to examine the spiritual, to embrace the smaller—but in some ways finer—things in life. Appreciating nature instead of trying to conquer it. Eating and enjoying great food is one of those things. Our fixation with making bigger cheeses is giving way to a commitment to making better cheeses. Quality can pass quantity as the measure of our success.

It may well be that my generation and the generations which follow will not be able to afford to buy bigger houses or fancier cars than our parents did. But we can definitely eat better. Food is one of the most afford- able luxuries there is. We might not be able to afford a new Cadillac, but we can certain- ly savor a great cheddar or an exceptional hunk of Detroit Street Brick cheese.

Lord knows, we’ve eaten a lot of mediocre food in this country in the last 50 years. But look around and you’ll see that better tasting, fresher, more flavorful food is appear- ing all around you. And once we get used to eating good food, we won’t want to go back. If you’ve come to love real Roquefort, you won’t go back to bags of “blue cheese crumbles.”


Bridgewater Cheese from the Zingerman’s Creamery


Food, ZingLife, Food Artisans

Author Michael Paterniti tells all at Zingerman’s event!


Author of The Telling Room

Thursday, September 26th, 6:30pm to 8:30pmtelling_room_book
Zingerman’s Events on Fourth
415 N. Fifth Ave in Kerrytown

While award-winning author Michael Paterniti will probably do a few hundred book release events this fall, this is the one that takes him back to the source of his story. We’re honored to welcome Mike back to reconnect with roots of the bookZingerman’s Delicatessen, good writing, and a really great story about a strangely compelling Spanish cheese.

It’s not every day that a best-selling book, written by a nationally known author, has a storyline that starts at Zingerman’s. But that’s exactly what’s taken place with the recent release of The Telling Room. Twenty-two years ago this fall, Mike was a graduate student studying English at University of Michigan. He took a part-time job here at Zingerman’s editing our newsletter to help pay a few bills. But funny things can happen when you get around good people and good food. Mike’s part-time job turned into a life-altering obsession.

In issue #87 of the Zingerman’s News, there was an essay, written by Zingerman’s co-founder, Ari Weinzweig, about his seven favorite Spanish cheeses. The seventh on the list was a very expensive and exciting new arrival. Whatever Ari said in those four short paragraphs about the Paramo di Guzman caught Mike Paterniti’s attention. He clipped it out and carried it in his wallet for a good ten years, regularly reflecting on it and wondering what happened to Ambrosio, the man who made this wonderful cheese.

Many of us have these things that lodge in our minds. Maybe we could call it “wonderlust,” the hundreds of “what happened tos,” “what ifs” and “I wonders” of our lives. Most us never act on them; we go to our graves not knowing. Mike Paterniti is different. After ten years of wondering, he uprooted his family and set off for Spain in search of Paramo di Guzman, and the man who made it. What happened on this journey changed his life.

In the years since he worked proofing the newsletter at the Deli, Mike has made quite a name for himself. He authored the bestselling Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein’s Brain, and his work has appeared in several nationally known publications, including the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Harper’s, Outside, Esquire, and GQ. In the process he’s been nominated eight different times for the National Magazine Award, and received an NEA grant and a pair of MacDowell Fellowships. Now the prodigal Mr. Paterniti is returning to Zingerman’s Delicatessen, where his journey began, to share the story of his search for an elusive and wondrous cheese he first read about in issue #87 of the Zingerman’s News.

Twenty-two years down the road and we’re on issue #240 of Zingerman’s News, which appropriately again features our homage to foods of Spain and the story behind Michael’s new book. On Thursday, September 26, Mike will visit the Deli and tell the story himself. He’ll sign copies of the book, as well as copies of the Zingerman’s News that features the book’s release. We’ll also taste a delicious selection of fine Spanish foods, including many of our favorite traditional cheeses.

Copies of Michael’s new book are available at fine bookstores everywhere, but seats at the event are very limited. Reserve your seat today!

$30/person, reserve a seat online or call 734-663-3400!

Food, Food Artisans

“The Original Cheddar” at the Zingerman’s Deli

The Zingerman’s Deli has just broken open a wheel of delicious Montgomery Cheddar! This is some of the best cheddar in the world, fans of the curd should definitely stop by for a taste!


Zingerman’s Mail Order partner Mo Frechette sums it up:

English Farmhouse Cheddar
Universally imitated, never replicated. The original cheddar.

Like the British Empire, cheddar conquered the world—it’s the planet’s most widely copied cheese. Ironically, with so much emphasis on imitation, the original has become an endangered species. It’s rarely found in this country and is worlds apart in character from its copycat cousins.

Montgomery’s is one of only three farms in its ancestral homeland making truly traditional farmhouse English cheddar. Big, clothbound drums are made by veteran cheesemaker Steve Bridges every day except Friday. All the milk comes from Jamie Montgomery’s herd of just under 200 Holstein-Fresian cows, which graze on a nearby hill rumored, incidentally, to be the site of Camelot. Their cheeses have a golden color, a warm, flaky texture and a penetrating, memorable flavor. Each one is spoken for—they’re taking no new customers.

Once, at a bar in London, someone told me “Cheddar should be like a neighbour’s party,” which is a line I don’t quite understand but have never forgotten. It is a totally appropriate way to describe the easy, unforgettable flavor of Montgomery’s cheddar.

Last year, Zingerman’s Deli cheesemonger Chad Hayes toured several creameries in southwest Britain, Montgomery’s among them. Read all about his adventure on his Cheese Trippin’ blog.


 “If I could come back as a mouse, I’d like to live in your place! That English Farmhouse Cheddar is the best I’ve ever had!”
– Ellen from Creston, Iowa

Food, Food Artisans

Help Us Choose the Cheese!

Come to the Zingerman’s Deli this Thursday evening, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and help us select the best-tasting wheels of Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese!

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Earlier this year, the Deli’s cheese experts, Sean and Mike, got together with Uplands’ cheesemaker, Andy Hatch, and sampled over twenty batches of Pleasant Ridge Reserve from the 2011 season. From there, they narrowed it down to six cheese wheels, each representing a day’s batch of about sixty wheels.

photo 1

But, we still need to choose the best of the best. And that’s where our guests can help!
Join us Thursday in tasting samples from these six finalist wheels. We want to hear what you taste, and what you think. Your comments will help us select the two best wheels (and batches) to sell in the Deli in the coming year.

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Help us pick the best of the best!


Breaking the Wheel

Every so often at the Zingerman’s Deli, the call comes from the cheese counter that it’s time for more Emmentaler. Some fortunate person has purchased the last tasty portion and the time has come to break open a new wheel.


A freshly opened Emmentaler wheel.

The cheesemongers are dispatched. Down they go, and into the cheese cooler underneath the Deli. Here, in chilled comfort, wrapped chunks, half-moons, and huge wheels of delicious cheese await their turn up on the sales floor. The air inside the cooler has a dairy tang, a promise of fine curds aged to perfection by traditional methods. The cheesemongers find the box they’re looking for and wrestle it upstairs. This is a public unveiling.


This wedge weighs about 50 pounds!

I’m fortunate to have cheesemonger Chad Hayes as my guide through this process, and he drops facts about the cheese as he works. This wheel of Emmentaler weighs in at 210 pounds, just about average for this cheese. It’s produced in “larger format” because it’s an Alpine cheese and was traditionally made by folks living high in the mountains of Switzerland who were often cut off by winter storms. The big wheels of cheese provided a source of protein for the long winter months of isolation. It’s made from cows milk and the curd is cooked to help stabilize the cheese for longer storage. This Emmentaler has been carefully aged for over a year.


Preparing to open the second half.



Scoring the rind.



Pulling the cutting wire through.






Butterfat ‘weeps’ from the the holes in the cheese.

Emmentaler originated in the area around Emmental, Switzerland, and is probably the best-known of all swiss, or Alpine, cheeses. The signature holes in the cheese are the result of trapped carbon dioxide gas during the fermentation process. The cheese has a mellow and savory (but not sharp) flavor and melts easily. It’s an excellent choice for fondue, gratins, or simply enjoying along with some fresh fruit and a nice glass of semi-dry white wine.


A mountain of cheese!