When I was a kid, I only ever wanted to be at least one of three things when I grew up: an artist, a writer, or…a cheesemonger. Now that I’m a “grown-up,” I can maybe cross off the first two, and last night, I got a tiny peek into what it would be like to be the third.
I’m a cheese freak to the point that when I’m in an Italian restaurant and the cheese-and-pepper guy comes over asking if I want cheese on my pasta, it gets real awkward after he’s standing there pouring it on top of my meal for a couple moments longer than he should be. After I heard that the Gramercy outpost of Bedford Cheese Shop offered a Cheesemaking 101 class, I practically jumped at the chance to take part, ready to learn how to make some cheese.
Greeted by a lovely cheese plate and wine, the class was pretty small (less than 15?) and mostly full of couples or friends. Our instructor Cara was really nice, focusing on fresh cheeses and fielding tons of questions while leading us through demonstrations of making ricotta (which with got to taste while we were there) and also rennet cheese (also known as “farmer’s cheese”), which we were allowed to take home. We also made our own butter by spending a decent amount of time shaking up containers of cream until it solidified and separated from the buttermilk (which can be squeezed out of the rest of the butter and rinsed off).
The class was heavier on the demonstrations than the actual making, and I would have loved to be more hands on in the class – but then again, it was a “101” and it’s always good to know the basics before you dive into anything, right? I’d love to take another class somewhere else as well (Murray’s, maybe?) and see what their take on an introductory cheesemaking class would be.
Homemade butter and rennet cheese!
Interested in making your own ricotta? Here’s a little recipe for you, courtesy of Bedford Cheese Shop:
Ricotta from Whole Milk
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp citric acid, dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1 tsp salt
1. Add milk to large pot.
2. Slowly heat the milk on low, stirring frequently to 180 degrees.
3. Remove from heat. Stir in citric acid, stir gently for 20 seconds to distribute evenly.
4. Add salt and gently stir for 10 seconds more.
5. Let the curds rest for 10-15 minutes.
6. Scoop curds gently into draining baskets.
7. Let drain 15 minutes, or several hours. Chill.
Bedford Cheese Shop offers all kinds of classes, from wine and cheese pairings, to whiskey and cheese pairings, classes on olive oil, jams, jellies, charcuterie, and the list goes on. To find out what else they have to offer, check them out on Eventbrite!
*** Next stop on the Eventbrite NYC Blogger Tour? I’ll be gorging on BBQ at the Hog Days of Summer at Greenpoint’s Arrogant Swine this coming Saturday, September 21. To find out more about the event, head to their Eventbrite.
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