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What to Cook: What to Cook This Week

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 28, 2017 - 11:10am
You might need a break after the Memorial Day rush, but you could also make something simple, like green garlic toast or stir-fried rainbow peppers.
Categories: Food

Your Coffee Is From Where? California?

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 27, 2017 - 2:20pm
Farmers in Southern California are nurturing coffee bushes in what may be the first serious effort to commercialize beans from the contiguous United States.
Categories: Food

Hungry City: A Journey Through Indonesian Favorites at Awang Kitchen in Elmhurst, Queens

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 26, 2017 - 5:58pm
The menu is rambling, featuring dishes like tempeh, goat skewers, and calamari gilded by salted duck egg yolks, but the waiters are patient guides.
Categories: Food

Here, Try Some Mezcal. But Not Too Much.

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 26, 2017 - 3:45pm
The spirit’s new popularity in the United States thrills many Americans but worries others, who fear for its sustainability.
Categories: Food

During Ramadan, Home Cooks Shine

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 26, 2017 - 2:57pm
A month of fasting is punctuated with daily gatherings of family and friends, laden with nourishing food.
Categories: Food

A Good Appetite: A Cheesy, Oniony Gratin That Brings a Family Together

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 26, 2017 - 2:11pm
A few members of the allium family — spring onion, leek and green garlic — benefit from a bread crumb and Parmesan topping.
Categories: Food

What to Cook: What to Cook This Weekend

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 26, 2017 - 11:10am
Feast in the lead up to Memorial Day, and treat yourself to clams, barbecued chicken, or pulled pork or lamb.
Categories: Food

Bites: At Bay Area Restaurant, Roadside Food With a California Accent

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 26, 2017 - 6:00am
The chef at Dad’s Luncheonette is an alumnus of Saison, the wildly expensive San Francisco spot. Dad’s is anything but.
Categories: Food

On Dessert : A More Perfect Cream Puff

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 26, 2017 - 5:00am
Pâte à choux has been around for hundreds of years, but every pastry chef makes it new. Home cooks can, too.
Categories: Food

The Pour: Rioja Grapples With How to Define Its Best Wines

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 25, 2017 - 1:53pm
Weighing aging wine versus terroir in a region of vast potential, where quality cannot be taken for granted.
Categories: Food

City Kitchen: Edible Blossoms to Brighten Your Plate

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 25, 2017 - 1:27pm
Snip off the flowering tops of herbs to make a colorful compound butter for fish, chicken, vegetables or toast.
Categories: Food

Eat: A Taste of Home in One Pot

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 25, 2017 - 5:00am
The beans and pork of northern Mexico, by way of San Francisco.
Categories: Food

Feature: How Amanda Chantal Bacon Perfected the Celebrity Wellness Business

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 25, 2017 - 5:00am
Deciphering the rise of a lifestyle guru who sells self-absorption as the ultimate luxury product.
Categories: Food

Summer in the Hamptons: Eleven Madison Park and Uber (Finally!) Are Coming to the East End

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 25, 2017 - 12:00am
From the toughest reservation in town to the return of the ride-hailing app, here are six things that Hamptonites will be buzzing about.
Categories: Food

What to Cook: Gas or Charcoal?

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 24, 2017 - 11:10am
The answer is complicated. Why not explore it with recipes for grilled flounder and soy-basted chicken thighs?
Categories: Food

Is It Ripe Yet?

Planet Cheese - May 24, 2017 - 10:00am

When is a cheese ripe? I thought I understood that adjective—or at least what it means to me—until a student in a cheese class asked me to explain it. He knew what a ripe banana was, but he’d never associated the word with cheese. That got me thinking. How come I never describe Cheddar as ripe? What about this luscious Nicolau Farms Bianchina (above)? Is it ripe yet? I had to ask the cheesemaker.

Walter Nicolau is a fourth-generation dairy farmer in Modesto, California, the great-grandson of Portuguese immigrants. He started his own enterprise at the ripe (!) age of 20 with one dairy goat. Now he’s milking about 200. Bianchina is a mixed-milk Camembert-style cheese that he introduced four years ago, blending his own milk with cow’s milk from a neighbor. I loved it right out of the gate.

But now he has revised it dramatically. He has bumped up the cow’s milk ratio to 80 percent to make it more buttery and less tangy and added cream to make it more unctuous. And he reduced it from two pounds to eight ounces so retailers could sell the cheese whole. Bianchina is officially a triple-cream cheese now and, naturally, sales have spiked. Americans love that sumptuous richness.

When I picked up Bianchina recently at a cheese counter, intrigued by the new format, it felt really squishy. I thought it might be over-ripe. I couldn’t see the bloomy rind under the wrap—that would have given me another clue—but I risked it anyway. An eleven-dollar bet.

At home I noticed that underneath the store’s price sticker was a tiny sticker with a six-digit number. I knew this was the farm’s in-house code for the make date, but I had to ask Nicolau to translate it.

“We release Bianchina at about two weeks, and we find that it is in its prime at 30 to 45 days,” Nicolau told me. My cheese was 48 days old. Past its prime? Over-ripe?

The damp, dimpled, mottled rind told me that this little disk was close to end-stage. But it gave no hint of ammonia—the death rattle—and it didn’t collapse when cut. It was creamy, plush, faintly mushroomy and not shy on salt.

To a large degree, ripeness is up to you. It’s when the cheese is where you like it. (How do you like your bananas?) This Bianchina was perfectly ripe, and it was probably also ripe two weeks before, depending on your taste.

But here’s the part I had not thought about before my student’s question. Cheese people use “ripe” only for cheeses that get softer as they age, not for cheeses like Cheddar or Manchego that get harder with time. “Advanced to the point of being in the best condition” is one dictionary definition. But if you ask for ripe Cheddar at the cheese counter, you’re going to get a funny look.

In Northern California, look for Nicolau Farms Bianchina at The Cheese Shop (Carmel); Mill Valley Market (Mill Valley); Oxbow Cheese Merchant (Napa); Petaluma Market (Petaluma); Sacramento Natural Foods (Sacramento); Sunshine Foods (St. Helena) and Nugget Market (multiple locations). It should also arrive in several Northern California Whole Foods shortly.

You Could Be a Winner

Are you a food professional who would like to learn more about cheese? You may be a good candidate for the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award, a $5,000 scholarship intended to help people travel to Europe for self-directed research or study. The deadline for applications is May 31 and full details are at

Cheese Class: Sheep’s Milk Cheeses from Near and Far

Join me for this deep dive into the fascinating realm of sheep cheese. We’ll taste fresh and aged wheels from Europe and the U.S., where sheep cheeses are—finally!—an exciting trend. At the end of this sit-down tasting, you’ll understand why, for a cheesemaker, sheep’s milk is the dream ingredient.

Monday, June 12
Silverado Cooking School
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Categories: Food

Pursuits: In the Bars of Berlin, Both the Drinks and Design Are Bracing

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 24, 2017 - 12:01am
The city’s cocktail dens offer intriguing interiors — a chic retreat, a 19th-century villa — and menus that combine classics and recent inventions.
Categories: Food

‘Modern Mexican’ Steps Into the Spotlight

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 23, 2017 - 10:47pm
Mexican cuisine has made the leap to the global stage of fine dining, with chefs in Mexico and beyond producing creative, world-class food.
Categories: Food

What’s New in the Supermarket? A Lot, and Not All of It Good

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 23, 2017 - 10:46pm
Michael Ruhlman, the author of “Grocery,” leads a skeptical stroll through a North Jersey store to show why big changes may be needed in the business.
Categories: Food

Off the Menu: 180 Tenth by Smorgasburg Opens at the High Line Hotel

NYTimes Dining and Wine - May 23, 2017 - 3:26pm
A rooftop bar from Dale Talde, Empellón Cocina closes, and other restaurant news.
Categories: Food