Monday, June 20, 2016

Trying New Cheeses: Entry 11, Rougette, Kaserei Champignon

Straight out of Germany comes Rougette! Here's a cheese that is 3 decades in the making. You would hope that in that time the cheese would have been perfected. I tried some of this German cheese in my 11th edition and first new tasting for 2016 in my Trying New Cheese series. Germans are well-known for their beer making abilities, so how does their cheese stack up? I found out for myself.

Kaserei Chamignon, Rougette
Milk: cows
Type: soft
Country: Germany
Region: Alluga Region of Bavaria 
Pasteurized: Yes
Description: Small round, rind washed soft cheese like Camembert with a red mold rind
Claim to Fame: Orange soft-washed rind cheese, cousin to Brie

History: Rougette is a German cheese made in the Alluga region of Bavaria, and it is in the Brie family. It is very similar to Camebert, another Brie family member. Rougette comes from Bavaria and has a distinctive red-orange rind that is washed 5 times during the cheese making process. It is known for its buttery flavor. Rougette comes from a family of cheese makers that have 100 years of experience.

Taste: The Rougette cheese will remind you a lot of Camebert, but it is not the same. It has a pungent smell when you open it and it is soft but not nearly as soft as Camebert, and I liked that. It had the consistency of a Brie, so it held together nicely without oozing. The rind was orange, as is its trademark. The taste was mild but very flavorful. The rind was more like Camebert than Brie, and I didn't mind eating it. Unlike Brie, the taste of the rind didn't seem to overpower the center with its own flavor.  The texture was smooth and creamy and it went really well with the raspberries I was eating at the same time. 

 The small wheel was 4.4 oz and at $4.98 that seems a little steep, but after trying it, I feel it was worth it. If you make a cheese board consisting of soft cheeses, you'll definitely want to add Rougette. It is different enough from Camebert and Brie to be a nice unique addition that will offset the other two while it remains a strong member of the same family. 

I give the German Rougette an 8 out of 10, and that's as close to a 9 as it can get. I didn't enjoy it as much as Camebert but it was very close. It also cost almost double with being the same size! Eating it with berries is suggested and since this is what I tried, I can tell you that is a very good idea. It goes very well with fruit or fresh bread. It isn't uncommon for this cheese to be placed in the oven and then the top sliced open for dipping purposes. I think the strength of the rind would make it perfect for this kind of use. I recommend trying this cheese for sure. 

Germany is known for their beer, stuffed meats, and chocolate, but when it comes to soft cheeses the French have an edge. After trying Rougette, you might find yourself saying Auf Wiedersehen to the French soft cheeses, but that's just my two cents. 

CHEESE FACT: For Queen Victoria's wedding in 1840, the farmers in Somerset, England, made a Cheddar cheese weighing 1,100 pounds and measuring more than 9 feet wide!'s good to be the queen. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What is a Cheese Cave, and when can I move in??

Ever since I began making my own cheese, I had to find a way of aging it. Most cheese is aged for months, sometimes even years. Traditionally, especially in Europe, a cheese cave is used because of the perfect specific cheese aging conditions. The home cheese maker has to find a replacement for these cheese caves for aging their cheese.

Not all cheese has to be aged. Mozzarella, for example, can be made and eaten in the same day. Cheddar, however, has to be aged for weeks before it develops its trademark flavor. The longer a cheese ages, the sharper it gets. Some extra sharp cheddars are aged for years at a time.
How do you apply for that job???

"Wait, Andrew, are you saying the cheese I buy in the store has been sitting on a piece of wood in some cave for months???" Yes, actually, that's exactly what happens.

Add a bed and I'm moving in! 

In factories and for the commercial cheese producer, a room with temperature and humidity controls suffice for underground cheese caves of the past, but the idea is the same. The cheese you eat has been sitting around in some room for weeks or even months before it ever makes it to your table.

So why a cave? Well, cheese needs to be aged at 55 degrees with a humidity at about 80% and that's pretty much how a normal underground basement or cellar is on its own, making it an ideal setting for the cheese aging process. When a natural cave wasn't around, cheese makers started digging into hillsides to create tiny caves, just for their cheeses.
That's one fancy homemade cave!

My cheese cave is simply a wine cellar refrigerator, which is a modern way of keeping wine. However, it can also be used as a cheese cave and that's what I have to use because there are no basements or cellars in Texas.
Not a true cave, but does what I need it to do.

The cheese you eat from stores is probably all aged in controlled factory environments, but if you get some imported cheese, you might actually get to eat a true cave-aged cheese!

(the best cheese is in the 56th row, 35th from left) 

Here are some amazing examples of cheese caves from around the world! Each one makes me want to pack up my stuff and move in!

It's as if Bilbo Baggins makes cheese! 
A manmade modern cheese cave! 
First I would dress up as Link, then I would eat everything I find in this cave.
Long hard day in the cheese mines???
Congratulations, it's a cheese! 

If caves have taught us anything, it is that awesome things come from them. Whether it be lions, bears, Neanderthals, wine, Batman, or cheese, a cave is going to produce something really awesome but that's just my two cents.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Own Lawn Jockey, a project from start to finish

I decided to get my own Lawn Jockey. There is a great place that makes and sells these yard statues. You can have it customized in any color you want or you can get an unfinished one. I chose to go with the unfinished aluminum lawn jock. As you can see, it is bare metal when it arrives.

This is how it was shipped, (very fast I might add). That's a very large box! Luckily, aluminum doesn't weigh as much as concrete or cast iron, so it surprisingly wasn't all that heavy. He probably weighs right around 46 pounds. This means I can move him anywhere I want without any trouble. The concrete statues weigh over 100 pounds.

It actually looks kinda cool like this. That's a lot of melted down pop cans folks. Reminds me of T-1000 from Terminator 2. As cool as it looked like this, I had other plans.

The first step was to use primer paint. If you don't use primer paint, the paint won't stay on the statue as well. If you skip this step you'll be looking at touching up your jockey in a couple of years. This guy will be out in the sun, the rain, the heat, the cold, the wind, and snow (if that ever happens in Texas), so you need to use a good outdoor paint. Using a paint for outdoor furniture is a good choice. I went with Rust-Oleum and was very happy with them.
Pimer paint, all ready for colors!

The thing about a Lawn Jock is, they can be in any color you can imagine. Every farm and racing stable has their own colors and designs, so really these guys can end up looking like anything. I had a difficult time on deciding on a color scheme and for a long time I really wanted to do a Claiborne Farms silks design, reminiscent of Ron Tourcotte and Secretariat.

 In the end, I thought that would be too difficult and instead went for a more classic look.

The first thing I painted was the white pants. Keep in mind if you're going for a high gloss finish as I was, the first coat isn't going to look that great. It will have lines in it and be dull, having no shine that a gloss paint should have, but this is completely normal and it will take 3 coats before you get what you want. In this picture my lawn jockey has his 3 coats of white for this pants.

I then had to make flesh color for his hands and face. I thought this would be easy by adding white to a brown, that will make a tan and I'll keep adding white until it's what Caucasian skin tone would look like!  WRONG! Brown plus white equals grey. Don't ask me why, I'm just telling you that's what will happen if you add those two colors together. I had an outdoor tan color for the house, so I used that and added the white to it. It didn't come out as glossy as the pants, and I don't like that. It also wasn't as smooth. HOWEVER, it does look like white guy skin color, and that's what I wanted.

If you want Caucasian skin tone, you need to add, BLUE, RED, YELLOW, AND WHITE. Don't ask me how the hell that equals skin color, but IT DOES. Why or how? Simple answer is, all colors originate from the primary colors. Don't believe me? Try it yourself. The reason why you should consider this is because if all of your paint isn't the same brand or the same in gloss, it won't mix well, as it didn't with mine. The problem was, I didn't have blue or yellow paint and I didn't feel like going out and buying two cans just to make a Dixie Cup worth of paint for such a small surface area. It isn't a big deal and if you already are using those colors for the clothes, so just mix up a batch of skin color. It also works if you want to make African American skin tones.

I went with a very nice red for the coat and hat. As you can see, it is very bright and goes great with the white pants. I plan to make the buttons and wrist cuffs black. That will be painted and it doesn't matter too much if you leave it or cover it in red first, as I did with the buttons. Once the paint is completely dry, the black will go right over the red. I didn't do the hat because I wanted to have his brown hair painted first, that way the red of the hat can be painted over top of the brown.

Eventually I finished. Keep in mind that one coat of paint takes 24 hours to fully dry. This slows things down but it was ok, taking your time is the better way to go. The lawn jockey looks very regal and classy outside my house as he greets anyone that comes here. There are other statues in my neighborhood, but no lawn jockeys, he is the first of his kind on the block. I named him Joffery because it sounded classy.

This was a fun project and I'm kind of sad to be done with it. He is a welcomed addition to my landscaping and I will enjoy for years to come.