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8/14 Bronwen Percival, Cheese Buyer for Neal’s Yard Dairy London and Cheese Book Author
Di Wagner @deathbedfood: Me too! It's my 1st #sommchat!
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: Great to have You joining in on your 1st #SommChat !
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: Welcome to #SommChat everyone! Tell your friends to join us to learn from Bronwen Percival, Cheese Buyer for Neal’s Yard Dairy London and Cheese Book Author @BronwenPercival!
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: Don't forget that EVERY tweet during this chat should include the #SommChat hashtag in order for everyone to see it!
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: As we ask our Qs, you can ask Bronwen your Q’s as well! She'll do her best to answer all Q’s in the order they come #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll An average day involves looking at a lot of cheese, either in our warehouse/maturing rooms here in London, or visiting farms; yesterday I was selecting Cheddar in Somerset. #SommChat
Di Wagner @deathbedfood: You're in London? Nice to meet a wine lover from the other side of the Pond. I'm in Napa! #sommchat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: I love Napa! I actually helped out at a winery there during the 2004 harvest running lab samples (in my pre-cheese days). My parents live on the Central Coast so we try to make it back at least once a year to CA. #SommChat
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: Q fr #SommChat #Somm I would like to have our 1st cheese plate offering at our resto in NE #US - what #Cheeses would you start with that are most complimentary to #Wine @BronwenPercival
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll I'd look at starting with just a couple of cheeses; we've found that the friendliest matches for wines tend to be cheeses with a low rind-to-paste ratio, as rinds can be awkward matches for cheese... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll Some of our favourites are cooked pressed mountain style cheeses like Comte (or Tarentaise from VT!) or fresh lactic goat's cheeses. British territorials like Lancashire are also wonderful with buttery whites (plug for British Cheese!) ;) #SommChat
Di Wagner @deathbedfood: Do you sell those cheeses in the U.S.? #sommchat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: Neal's Yard Dairy (where I buy the cheese) sells Lancashire and a number of other British cheeses to shops in the USA--I'm just an admirer of the new generation of great American cheeses like Tarentaise, which should be widely available there. #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll Re cheese seasonality: there are certain cheeses that just seem right for cold weather, like creamy Mont d'Or, which also happen to be produced during that time of the year. Conversely, I think fresh buffalo mozzarella and lactic goat's cheese seem... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll ...best during the summer months. It's sometimes frustrating to see the rush for goat's cheeses for Christmas cheese selections when most goats are milked seasonally and the availability is lowest at that time of the year! #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: When I was growing up I was a member of my local 4-H (agricultural club) dairy goat programme, and I tried making cheese from their milk--in hindsight it was pretty terrible, but I was curious enough to give it a go... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: ...I think it was only later, when I was doing an internship on a dairy farm in New Jersey, that I discovered that cheese could have incredible flavours linked to the place and farming system where they were made... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: Finally, I think that my experiences working with wine (for example, working the harvest in Burgundy in 2012) have helped me understand how cheese could be representative of something more processing milk, but an opportunity to taste an amazing place! #SommChat
Di Wagner @deathbedfood: Yes! Burgundy without food (or cheese) is like peanut butter without jelly :-) #sommchat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll Great question! For the most part, cheeses are all best at a cool room temperature--warm enough to be pliant and release their aromas, but not sweating! To be honest, I can't think of any cheeses I'd serve cooler than that, so perhaps it's quite simple! #SommChat
Di Wagner @deathbedfood: OMG I am so upset with restaurants because most of them serve their cheese way too cold!! #sommchat
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: Q fr #SommChat #Somm for #cheese that we can only get @NealsYardDairy can they ship to US and if so do they have both wholesale and retail #US accounts @BronwenPercival ?
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll Neal's Yard Dairy sells to a number of retailers and wholesalers in the USA, often through regional distributors. Unfortunately we don't ship cheese direct to individuals there; we have enough challenges with mailorder in the UK. #SommChat
Meg Maker @megmaker: I recently toured the cellars at @jasperhillfarm with Mateo Kehler. He emphasized that the fresh cheeses are a seasonal cash crop, while aged cheeses (e.g. Cabot Clothbound) are like gold bullion on shelves. The cave as a bank vault. Do you have thoughts about that? #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: He's not alone in feeling that way...in fact the maturers of Parmigiano-Reggiano in Italy were also the banking families. A cheese cellar represents a lot of cash to be sitting on, particularly for the unfortunate farmers who are eager to turn their milk into money! #SommChat
Meg Maker @megmaker: Mateo also noted how demand for cheese drops precipitously after the holidays — exactly like wine — so the long-aged cheeses help smooth everyone's cashflow. #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: I agree...particularly when dealing with herds that are milked seasonally, being able to spread those sales through the winter makes a tremendous difference to cashflow! #SommChat
Di Wagner @deathbedfood: Holidays definitely busiest season for wine and cheese! #sommchat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll Natural fermentations are at the cutting edge of the cheese world, but they can also tell us a lot about other fermented foods...and wine! Wherever I go, when I speak with (farmer-)cheesemakers, there is a desire to make a cheese that expresses their own... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll ...farm's microbial community, which is a reflection of their unique place and farming practices, rather than make cheeses that are driven by isolated bacterial strains bought in from biotechnology firms. While many classic cheeses, e.g. Comte, are made... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll ...native microbes, it's much rarer to find Anglo-Saxon cheeses made with them. This represents an opportunity for cheesemakers to make cheeses that are more unique, and a reflection of their place of origin, which then opens the door to them more. #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: Definitely! I think 'terroir' is a word that's been thrown around fairly indiscriminately by cheesemakers, but we are finally beginning to see some potential mechanisms of action, and things that people can do to highlight their uniqueness. #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: Great question. We had an absolutely amazing board featuring cheeses from Mexico and Central America when we were last in California, at a restaurant in Santa Ana. They were so different from the European and British cheese I'm familiar with...it revealed new horizons! #SommChat
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: Q fr #SommChat #Somm @BronwenPercival How does your #wine knowledge incorporate with being a Cheese Buyer for @NealsYardDairy in #London and as a #cheese Book Author? #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll I think that cheesemakers feel that I reference the wine world a lot, but it has provided such a valuable glimpse for me into an alternate universe where farmers get a sustainable living from their unique agricultural products... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll favourite wine and cheese pairings: tawny Port with Stilton (obvs!), Riesling Auslese with cooked pressed mountain cheeses, super-plush Zinfandel with fresh, unripened lactic goat's cheese, and washed rinds with sake (is that allowed on #SommChat ??)
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll Have you ever had barley wine (like JW Lees?) It's an almost sweet-soy flavoured beer that goes incredibly well with blue cheeses, particularly Stilton. In general, beer, with its lower acidity and tannins, can be a more forgiving match with many cheeses. #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll Cheese with cocktails is an interesting one, partly because the potential range of aromas is so much wider. I haven't got much experience in this area, but I think that the sweetness of many cocktails might make an interesting foil to salty cheese. #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: I think it's a conversation that is slowly developing: there is a lot of interest, and a will to make 'terroir-driven' cheese, but less in the way of a robust toolkit. People who want to experiment are left to work with trial and error, which can be a bit risky from... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: ...the point of view of wastage! However, there are two different cheesemakers in the UK actively selling cheese made with soured-milk and whey starters (all their own microbes) and they are both wonderful. Their success should drive others to experiment too--I hope! #SommChat
Martin Gott @st_jamescheese: Wow, never even occurred to me we lost one when Sleight Farm packed up.
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: @BronwenPercival would you pls share info about your #Cheese Book with @FAPercival and where our #SommChat followers interested in learning about #cheese can find the book? Is it for both consumer and industry?
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll @FAPercival and I wrote Reinventing the Wheel for a broad audience: we wanted it to be relevant to the industry, but also something a general audience could read by the pool for fun... #SommChat
Francis Percival @FAPercival: Still my favourite review of #reinventingthewheel although I remember it as "too much sex and swearing!" We missed a trick not putting the quote on the cover of the paperback edition. #Sommchat #cheese
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll I'd love to see a bigger focus on the environmental impact of cheese and dairy products, as when dairy farming is done intensively, it has an unsustainable impact that we as an industry need to be working to change... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll ...the bright side is that cheeses made from the sort of extensive farming systems that promote biodiversity and sequester carbon are also those that create milk with the most microbial and flavour potential, so it's potentially win-win. #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: I think there's more and more emphasis on trying to produce something 'unique'. In addition to farming for microbes, there is also a project in the NE USA where they are developing a new cheese style, called 'Cornerstone', which is supposed to be uniquely American. #sommchat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll You can tell if a cheese is in good condition in a couple of ways. The first is to look at the cut surface: is it dry, cracked, or showing signs of light mould growth? If so, it's probably been cut for several days, or stored in rough conditions... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll ...Second, give it a sniff (if it's not totally wrapped up in something airtight): it should not smell of ammonia, which is a sign of excessive age and protein breakdown; this can be a particular problem with soft, mould-ripened cheese... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll ...if it passes those two tests, you're probably safe in terms of condition, but *I cannot stress enough* that if you're buying from a cheese counter--even a grab & go one--you should feel free to ask the person behind the counter for a taste! #SommChat
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: Q fr #SommChat #Somm agree with you that #Cheese should not be served too cold. Would you say in general that harder cheeses should be taken out to serve earlier than soft cheese and do you have a rule of thumb for this timing if so @BronwenPercival ?
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll Some cheeses that are better the fresher they are include fresh buffalo mozzarella (best eaten immediately, or within hours!), or unripened lactic cheeses, which will quickly start to grow yellowish yeasts on the surface, even if they're kept cold. #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll the speed with which a cheese warms up depends on the size of the piece, so it might make the most sense to take out small cheeses over the course of the evening an hour or so before serving, but a large wedge of something like Cheddar several hours... #SommChat
Bronwen Percival @BronwenPercival: @keepercoll ...in advance. A lot will depend on the temperature of the area you have to store it. If it's not too hot, the soft cheeses will probably be fine; if there's anything particularly runny and soft, you're right that it might be best to keep em cool for longer! #SommChat
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: Time to wrap up! Hope you enjoyed this hour of #cheese talk with Bronwen Percival, Cheese Buyer for @NealsYardDairy #London and Cheese Book Author @BronwenPercival! #WineWednesday #SommChat
Keeper Collection @KeeperColl: It was great to have Bronwen Percival, Cheese Buyer for Neal’s Yard Dairy London and Cheese Book Author @BronwenPercival join us today for #SommChat. We hope everyone learned as much as we did! #WineWednesday