Its finally the Weekend, and boy am I going to get a good night's sleep tonight! Today we visited the local farmer's market and learned about the local vendors and their cheeses. Then we proceeded to buy supplies for lunch from the market and then set out to rent bikes. We then biked 14 km to a Chateaux and ate our lunch at nearby picnic area. Next, we took a tour of the chateaux and its gardens and raced back on our bike to make it to the rental place by 6 PM. The way back was kind of tiring because of this. Don't even get me started on uncomfortable the bicycle seats were. Afterwards I had an extravagent 4 course meal at a local restaurant before watching the US-England match. It was a very tiring day, so I will probably pass out after this post.
Anyway, yesterday was a lot of touring cheese farms/factories and learning about the different ways in which cheese is produced in then northern part of Burgundy. The main difference between norhtern and southern burgundy cheeses is that the South uses mainly free floating bacteria in the factories air to provide sufficient inoculum to get the fermentation going. After a delicious lunch at a nearby town we headed to the vineyards that these monks once possessed. These vineyards are located on top of goat milk while the North side usually uses cow milk. Nevertheless, at the Abbeyie Citeaux, we learned how the monks made their famous cheese, using mostly stainless steel, automatic equipment to help make the process go faster. Because they are a young factory, they add starter cultures to their milk to help get the fermentation process going. In a few years however, they will no logner need to do so as there will be enough some of the best grape-growing soils in the world. Therefore, its not surprising to see their wines being sold for at least 1000- 4000 euros a bottle! The trip to the chateuax by the vineyards was followed by a visit to a cheese factory. Here we learned about a more industrial kind of cheese production. After a tour of the factory we had a wine and cheese tasting there. Many of the cheese we tasted were smelly and full of flavor, exactly the way I like it!
Tomorrow should be a fairly quiet day. Most of it will be spent on writing my papers for the course and preparing for the oral presentations. There won't be anythign to do in town anyway, as everything is closed on Sundays. That, and its suppoed to rain again.
Today's lesson of the day will be on cheese variety. I mean to put it one way, if all cheese comes from milk, than how come there are so many varities? Well let me start off by letting you know, not all cheeses are made from the same type of milk. Some cheeses are made from goat's milk, others from cows, and to a small extent, some are produced from buffalo or horse milk. The source of the milk will affect its variety. Next, differentiation between cheeses can occur at the level of pasteurization. Some producers pasteurize their collected milk at temperatures around 50 celcius while others pasteurize soemwhere in the 60 celcius range. Others dont pasteurize their milk at all and make cheese from raw milk. These differences will allow for different bacteria popultions to exist from cheese to cheese. Weve tasted some of those cheeses, and let me tell you, the flavor comes out a lot better in them. Additionally, variations in cheese can arise from differences in the bacteria present in the cheese. In my last entry, Dr Young brigns up a good question. What type of fermentation is used to produce Swiss Cheese? Indeed, the Swiss cheese is still produced by using homolactic fermentation. However, what gives Swiss cheeses its distinct "holey" appearance is the presence of propionic bacteria late in the aging process. These bacterias convert the lactic acid to propionate and in the process produce CO2 which causes the holes to form in the cheese.
Moving right along, other variations in cheese can arise from differing againg times, conditions, bacteria present, etc.
Interestingly, in France, to protect the traditional methods of producing cheese, a so-called "committee" called the "Appelations d'origine controlee" was created. Basically, this board decides who can make what cheese. For example, the cheese made by the abbey monks at Abbayie de Citeuax is regulated by the AOC. As long as the monks follow the guidelines for making their cheeses as set by the AOC, they can put the AOC seal of approval on their cheese to mark its originiality. In this way, it prevents a cheese producer from Paris from saying their cheese is called "Fromage de Abbayie Citeaux." Thus the AOC helps maintain tradition and keep bad competition out.
Anyway, enough of my blabbing on and on. I shall now leave you with some more pictures from the past two days when the internet decides to work again. Enoy!
"Jamais en Vain, Toujours en Vain"
"Never in Vain, Always in Wine!"