Live fast, die young – such is the lifestyle of Brie microbes according to Dr Mark Krasnow, at Wellington’s Le Cordon Bleu Wine and Cheese Tasting last Friday night. In contrast, Parmesan’s flavours develop slow and steady as the enzymes die and the rind develops.
An enthralling hour or so of chemistry, not an oxymoron with Mark’s passion for cheese, followed by a demonstration of curd making, and finishing with a cheese and wine tasting. What a great evening. 5 cheese fiends, a chemist, a helper and his lover. Perfect!
This was the first of Mark’s culture series, he was following cheese and wine up the next day with a feast of fermentation. Mark wondered if a science of craft beer would go well in Wellington? Hell yes we assured him, each of us knowing at least 3 craft beer aficionados or amateur brewers. The hipster-beard-to-body ratio would certainly be high at that one!
I was impressed and delighted by Mark’s ease of imparting chemical processes that have previously eluded me. He’s a great story teller with a heathy respect for the alchemy of cheese, explaining the bits science understands, acknowledging the parts still unexplained. We marvelled at how the two basic ingredients of cheese, that is milk and salt, combine to produce around 12,000 cheese varieties globally. Acidification, Bacteria, Salt and Syneresis – these combine to enable the production of cheese. At the core of the cheese makers art is Syneresis, or the separation of curds and whey to allow the clumping together of casein micelles. I think I got that right.
Mark’s a lively speaker, he’s a wine guy by day and like many of us, well, at least me, has fallen down the rabbit hole of cheese. His love for the stuff evidenced by his contagious excitement. I am grateful for his generous sharing of knowedge learnt at the University of Califoria – Davis.
Next week at the exciting Eketahuna Cheese pop up event, Biddy from Cymglyn Farm is going to give me 12 litres of her milk, and who know maybe with the help of Biddy and her girls, plus Mark’s enthusiasm and chemical knowledge, I may be able to cut the curd and make actual cheese at last. I’ll keep you posted.