Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Controlled Chaos of Homemade Fromage Blanc

…and mascarpone, ricotta, mozzarella, cream cheese and thick buttermilk have been glupping along in the kitchen and tasting spectacular. They have a freshness and loads of flavor levels not found in commercial varieties.

Gil (le hubbeau) has a math and science mind and has taken his precised-ness into the area of fresh cheese lately. It’s like seeing the ages-old story of cheese evolve as he happily moves from one recipe to the next, mixing milk, lemon, rennet, cream and what have you and cooking them into formed tastiness. Even he is thrilled with how little a large lump of the stuff costs when you make it at home: about $3 for several pounds of fresh cheese.

And then someone has to eat it. We’ve mounded it on a plate, then drizzled honey and salty pistachio bits on top, and slathered it on toast with a thick frosting of homemade raspberry jam. Sometimes it’s lunch – just big blobs of delicious white cheese.

Anyone who says these cheeses practically make themselves are not presenting the entire picture. This is controlled chaos, and the cheese maker carefully manages the curdle, the temperature, the bacteria. He measures, follows instructions and obeys the thermometer – there’s nothing slapdash about this.

But in the end a gallon of milk has blurped into a plump, beautiful, incredibly delicious mass of radiance and joy.


MyLastBite said...

I agree... it's definitely worth the time to make. Beautiful photo.

Anonymous said...

My science background has taken me into the world of pastry and chocolate, but fermentation (beer, wine and cheese) eludes me. It's like magic to me, and I don't really want to know what's up the magician's sleeve.

Makes you appreciate why good cheese is so expensive, I suppose. Based on low yields and the work of the cheesemaker, that is.