Dept. of Word Lists

Cheese Words

Chef Terrance Brennan is the founder of Artisanal Premium Cheese, a company that practices the fine art of affinage -- the age-old craft of maturing and aging cheese to achieve peak flavor. He's also something of a cheese revolutionary -- a chef who's helped Americans discover and appreciate the sublime magic of handcrafted artisanal cheese (we'll get to that word in a minute). What better person to ask about cheese words?

Paste. "The body within the rind of the cheese, what the French call the 'pate.' In other words, the interior of the cheese."

Farmstead. "Cheese milked and produced from the same farm."

Grassy. "A descriptive term for flavor, meaning a kind of weedy, herbaceous taste, especially when cows are grazing in lush fields during the spring and early summer and eating a lot of the grasses and herbs before milking."

Bloom. "Cheeses like brie and camembert contain candidum penicillin that develops a white mold on the rind, which we refer to as a bloomy rind."

Eye. "The technical name for holes formed in certain Swiss cheeses after the fermentation process."

Sharp. "Refers to the flavor, typically referring to cheddars, as in 'sharp cheddars.' It can also be used to refer to blue cheese. Most artisanal cheddars are not really sharp flavored. That's found more in the mass-produced cheeses."

Brush. "When you take one of the dry-rind cheeses, like Ossau Iraty and Abbaye de Belloc, and brush off the dust from mites that eat the outside. You use a firm brush to clean the outside of the cheese."

Ammonia. "Some cheeses sometimes give off ammoniated gasses. We let cheese breathe a bit when we open the package but if it's overly ripe, it can give off too much ammonia."

Acid. "When a cheese has a sour flavor we say it's acid."

Cave. "Back in the day -- and still today in places like Roquefort -- cheese was matured and aged in limestone caves. At Artisanal, we cure cheese in modern 'caves' -- high-tech walk-in coolers with a cave-like environment. We can control temperature and humidity to one-tenth of a degree in our cheese caves."

Artisanal. "A lot of people ask me what "artisanal" means. Artisanal is actually not a word in the dictionary. I'm not going to be so bold as to claim that I made up this word but I certainly popularized it when I opened my restaurant, Artisanal, seven years ago. "Artisanal" means foods that are handcrafted by skilled artisans in small batches, using time-honored techniques and recipes. It's become so popular the Wall Street Journal even wrote an article last year about how this word is being abused -- anything can be called "artisanal" now. Our cheeses, however, are the real deal."

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Comments from our users:

Saturday November 17th 2007, 9:20 AM
Comment by: Nicholas T.
Spare me the cheesy cheese vocabulary. Each day, as a wine merchant dealing with some of the most sophisticated palates in the business we laugh at the winey wine voabulary we have developed to confuse the consumer. What will forecome of this? Cheese ratings?
Those of us who know, know.
Sunday December 2nd 2007, 4:02 PM
Comment by: Lou B.
Bravo, Mr. Troilo!
Spoken like a true Sommelier!

I applaud the staunchness of your stand against the inexorable onslaught of radical gustatory pairings such as ‘Wine and Cheese’! Perish the thought!

For those of us who study and can appreciate the myriad qualities of the world’s cheeses, sharing the art and science behind so rich a culinary experience as Cheese is a joyful endeavor; exposing the Public to such concepts as ‘sharp’, ‘grassy’, and ‘Artisnal’, is hardly obfuscatory in intention or effect.
One can only hope that in unveiling the secret language of the Wine Sect you find yourself trapped in, some enterprising history student doesn’t produce a future ‘tell-all’ book, which exposes the shrouded common ancestor shared by both Wine and Cheese - the blessing of ‘ripening’, bestowed by Mother Nature on the simple jug of Milk, and the Grape.
Those of us who really know, also know to share.
Friday February 22nd 2008, 5:07 PM
Comment by: Joan K.
I could fall in love with Terrance Brennan. I have been in love with his food for years and years. Artisanal the restaurant is an exerise in food bliss. It's not just cheese either. The best chicken under a brick in New York City is offered there.
Saturday March 8th 2008, 10:45 AM
Comment by: Sandra B.
I think he forgot a very important cheese vocabulary word. "feety"
if you love strong cheeses, you know what I mean.

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