Enjoying Cheese for the Lactose Intolerant

October 21st, 2014

These days, it seems like everyone’s got some sort of dietary restriction — whether it’s something as simple as staying away from sweets because you’re trying to drop a few pounds to something as serious as celiac disease, we’re all watching what we eat. Funny comic
But amid all of this hyper vigilance, I’ve got some good news for the lactose intolerance sufferers out there:  YOU CAN EAT CHEESE!!!!  And all it takes is one simple step — look at the nutrition label!
Since lactose is the sugar found in milk, the fewer grams of sugar on the label, the better. Compare, for example, the 0.2 grams in cheddar cheese versus the 6 grams in feta. An easy way to check for lactose in cheese is to look at the Nutrition Facts under “Sugar.”  Nutrition FactsSince the sugar in cheese is lactose, you can easily see how much lactose the cheese contains. If the sugar is listed as zero, then the cheese contains no more than half a gram of lactose per ounce. Compare to 12 grams of lactose in an 8 ounce glass of milk.

Cheese with trace levels (less than 0.5 gram lactose):

Naturally aged cheese (such as Cheddar, Parmesan and Swiss) can be digested by many people with lactose intolerance. During the cheese making process, much of the lactose is drained off with the whey (the liquid portion). The small amount that remains in the curd becomes lactic acid during the aging process of the cheese.  Mere trace amounts of lactose remain.

Cheese with low levels (less than 5 grams lactose):

Fresh unripened cheese (such as mozzarella, cream cheese and ricotta) are not aged. Only part of the lactose that remains in the curd has a chance to convert to lactic acid.  Cottage Cheese, also a fresh unripened cheese, generally has additional milk or cream mixed with the curd. Therefore, fresh cheeses contain more lactose than aged cheeses.
Processed cheese foods and cheese spreads are made by melting natural cheese to stop the aging process and then adding other ingredients, including whey or milk. Thus, cheese foods and cheese spreads do contain levels of lactose that may make you, well, intolerant.

So look for aged, rather than younger cheeses, and sugar under 5 grams per serving.  Here’s another rule of thumb: The higher the fat content, usually the lower the lactose levels. If you find that you still feel bloated, just try goat or sheep’s milk cheeses instead.

6 Top Goat and Sheep’s Milk Cheeses

Manchego CheeseManchego “It’s a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese that gets harder, nuttier, and sharper as it ages. I like a one year-aged Manchego but it’s a personal preference. For a softer flavor, go for a young Manchego. Taste around to find a flavor, brand, or age profile that you like.”
Goat Gouda “It’s an aged goat cheese that’s totally different from the fresh crumbly kind you know from salads. Goat Gouda CheeseFour-, five-, and six-month aged versions are crowd friendly but a one-year is especially good. It gets hard, dense, and really crystalized with almost a caramel flavor.”
Roquefort CheeseRoquefort “My favorite brand of this blue cheese made of sheep’s milk is Carles. There are only seven producers of Roquefort and it’s a highly regulated cheese, so a cheese shop will usually carry only one brand and you probably won’t be able to comparison shop. Roquefort can have a really aggressive, almost nail-polish-remover quality, so the trick is having a flavor that is balanced with the right amount of saltiness. Carles’s flavor is round, sweet, and salty–so you can eat a lot of it even though it’s intensely flavored.”
Young Goat Cheeses “Vermont Creamery makes a fantastic variety with different rinds. If you’re starting out, try the Coupole. It’s yellowy in color with a dry, dense, almost flaky texture, and nutty, mellow flavor. For goat cheese 201, go for Bonne Bouche, a small 6-oz round that has an ash rind, and a very creamy, almost liquid-like-texture, and an herbaceous flavor.”
Feta “Traditional feta from Greece is made with a blend of goat and sheep’s milk but anyone can make a cheese and call it feta,Feta Cheese so you need to make sure that you get it from a reliable source. One brand to look for that’s pretty widely available in supermarkets is MT Vikos Feta.”
Pecorino “Any cheese labeled ‘pecorino’ will always be made of sheep’s milk. The name means ‘little sheep’ in Italian. Pecorino comes in a huge range–it can be soft, super hard and aged, or really delicate and mild. If you’re up for an adventure, taste as many Pecorino CheesePecorino cheeses as you can–it’s a fun way to learn about sheep cheese throughout Italy, and it’s a great journey to discover what style of pecorino you like best.”

And most of all, enjoy your cheese, no matter what the form!


For best results, know how to store your cheese!

October 15th, 2014

I’ve always demystified cheese by telling people that it’s just rotten milk, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to just leave it susceptible to the elements on your countertop! Cheese’s rotten-ness hangs in a very delicate balance between edible rotten-ness and inedible rotten-ness, so to ensure that you’re being the best cheese guardian you possibly can, follow the steps below and you’ll know how to store your cheese the right way:

1. In order to avoid having the cheese dry out or pick up other flavors, always re-wrap cheese in fresh wrapping (preferably in waxed or parchment paper) after the cheese has been opened.  Remember that natural cheese is a living organism complete with enzymes and bacteria that require air and moisture to survive.  Thus, re-wrapping the cheese in paper cheese storage paperand then in plastic wrap will create a micro-environment for the cheese and is the preferred storage treatment.  Also remember that you shouldn’t leave cheese in the same wrappings for extended periods of time.

2. The ideal temperature range for storing cheese is between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, with high humidity, preferably in the bottom vegetable/fruit bin.  To guard against accidentally freezing your cheese, store it as far away from the freezer compartment and/or the meat bin as possible.

3. Strong, pungent cheeses such as blue, aged brick, or washed rind varieties deserve to be double wrapped to avoid having their aromas permeate other foods.Stinky Cheese  It’s not a bad idea to place these cheeses in an airtight container for extra assurance against aroma leakage.  It’s best to store cheeses separately if possible, especially blues, washed rinds and milder cheeses, as they will pick up each other’s flavors.

4. If cheeses other than fresh cheeses and blues have surpassed their expiration dates (imprinted on the packaging) or if the cheese develops a blue-green mold on the exterior, make a cut about a ½ inch below the mold to ensure that it has been entirely removed; the remaining cheese will be fine.

5. In general, never freeze natural cheeses, as they may lose their texture, and in some cases their flavor profiles will be seriously altered.  If you must freeze cheese, allow the cheese to thaw slowly in the refrigerator and use it for cooking, as the texture will become crumbly and dry after it is defrosted.

6. If stored and wrapped cheeses are overly dry, develop a slimy texture, exhibit ammoniated or any off odors, it’s best to discard them.  moldy cheeseIf you find these characteristics in cheeses at your local shop, do not purchase them, as they are  past their prime.  If a retailer’s offerings consistently display the above characteristics, it’s best to find another resource for your cheese.


Follow these tips for buying cheese!

October 7th, 2014

Anyone can go to the grocery store and swipe their card at the checkout counter — it doesn’t even matter what’s in your cart.  But to really understand what you’re buying (or what you’d like to buy), it never hurts to do a little homework.  Follow my tips for buying cheese and you’ll never have buyer’s remorse again!

1. Always re-wrap cheese in a fresh wrap, preferably waxed or parchment paper, Wrap your cheese!after the cheese has been opened to avoid having the cheese dry out or assume other flavors. Natural cheese is a living organism, with enzymes and bacteria that require air and moisture in order to survive. Re-wrapping the cheese in paper and then plastic wrap creates a micro-environment for the cheese which is the preferred storage treatment. However, you should not leave cheese in the same wrappings for extended periods of time.

2. The recommended temperature range for storing cheese is between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, with high humidity,cheese-in-fridge preferably in the vegetable/fruit bin near the bottom of your refrigerator. To avoid freezing the cheese, make sure it’s not stored near the freezer compartment or in the meat bin.

 

3. Double wrap strong, pungent cheeses, such as blue, aged brick, or washed rind varieties, to avoid having their aromas permeate other foods. It’s a good idea to put these cheeses in an airtight container for added assurance against aroma permeation. It’s also best to separately store cheeses if possible, especially blues, washed rinds and milder cheeses, as they tend to pick up each others’ flavors.Pungent Cheese Storage

4. If cheeses other than fresh cheeses and blues have surpassed their expiration dates (imprinted on the packaging) or if the cheese develops a blue-green mold on the exterior, make a cut about a ½ inch below the mold to ensure that it has been entirely removed; the remaining cheese will be fine.

5. In general, never  freeze natural cheeses, as they may lose their texture, and in some cases their flavor profiles will be seriously altered. If you must freeze cheese, allow the cheese to thaw slowly in the refrigerator and use it for cooking, as the texture will become crumbly and dry after it is defrosted.

6. If stored and wrapped cheeses are overly dry, develop a slimy texture, exhibit ammoniated or any off odors, it’s best to discard them. If you find these characteristics in cheeses at your local grocery store, do not purchase them, as they are past their prime. If a retailer’s offerings consistently display the above characteristics, it’s best to find another resource for your cheese, like Andrew’s Cheese Shop!


Make the Most of Your Cheese Platter with These Tips

October 1st, 2014

October is American Cheese Month, and that means we’re celebrating North America’s delicious and diverse cheeses, and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers (that’s me!), and chefs who bring them to your table. To commemorate American Cheese Month, I thought it would be cool to give out a few pointers on the best ways to buy, treat, serve and store cheese.

In this first post, we’re going to talk about putting together a beautiful cheese platter, because if you’re not serving a cheese platter tonight, the first night of this month-long celebration called American Cheese Month, then something is amiss. Without further ado, here are the tips!

1. When putting together a cheese board, to be served either before or after dinner, don’t forget to limit your selection to around five different cheeses. Cheese CutleryCreate diversity and add interest to your cheese board by serving cheeses of different sizes, shapes, and flavor or texture profiles. Strong, pungent cheeses shouldn’t be next to delicately flavored cheeses, and you should definitely have individual knives for each cheese.

2. Even the most modest of cheese trays can be elegant when you pay attention to the presentation. Cheese BoardServe cheeses on a wooden board, marble slab, straw mat, or flat wicker basket. Don’t to overcrowd the serving tray; you’ll want to allow your guests room to slice the cheeses. Serve bread and/or plain crackers on a separate plate or in a wicker basket.

3. Apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, fresh figs and melon add variety to a cheese board, especially if cheese is being served with cocktails. Additional accompaniments can include nuts, such as walnuts or Marcona almonds, fig cakes, and any manner of condiments, such as floral honeys, wine jellies, and Italian mostarda.Cheese Platter w apples and grapes

4. When designing a menu, consider when you want to serve cheese. Serving cheese after the main course, prior to or in place of dessert, adds an elegant touch to casual dinners. If served with cocktails, before dinner, remember that cheeses can be filling. Serve in limited quantities and variety.

I hope these tips help you in your quest to serve the perfect cheese platter. If you’ve got any questions about this post or anything else that’s cheese-related, give us a call at the shop at (310)393-3308 or just drop in anytime!


FDA restrictions keeping some great cheeses out of stores

September 5th, 2014

I was called on to give a quote for a recent story in the Food Section of the LA Times dealing with FDA restrictions and how it affects imported cheeses. Read it below:



Los Angeles cheese counters could soon be a lot less aromatic, with several popular cheeses falling victim to a more zealous U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Roquefort — France’s top-selling blue — is in the agency’s cross hairs along with raw-milk versions of Morbier, St. Nectaire and Tomme de Savoie.

In early August, these cheeses and many more landed on an FDA Import Alert because the agency found bacterial counts that exceeded its tolerance level. Cheeses on Import Alert can’t be sold in the U.S. until the producer documents corrective action and five samples test clean, a process that can take months.

Of course, French creameries haven’t changed their recipes for any of these classic cheeses. But their wheels are flunking now because the FDA has drastically cut allowances for a typically harmless bacterium by a factor of 10.

The limits for nontoxigenic E. coli were cut from 100 MPN (most probable number) per gram to 10 MPN. These are bacteria that live in every human gut; they are typically harmless and we coexist happily. But the FDA considers them a marker for sanitation: If a cheese shows even modest levels of nontoxigenic E. coli, the facility that produced it must be insufficiently clean.

Dennis D’Amico, an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut whose specialty is dairy microbiology, says this premise is flawed. But that’s little comfort to producers whose cheeses are denied entry, like the prominent French affineur (cheese ager) Pascal Beillevaire. Or to the retailers who rely on these cheeses.

“We carried eight or nine Beillevaire cheeses, and we can’t get any of them right now,” says Andrew Steiner of Andrew’s Cheese Shop in Santa Monica. “People like him are just going to give up. The American market is not the biggest part of their business. If a shipment gets destroyed, they’re likely to say, ‘We’re not trying that again.’”

American cheese makers have to meet the same standards and are understandably queasy. Some say it is all but impossible to make compliant raw-milk cheese consistently, and that the lowered tolerance for nontoxigenic E. coli will do nothing to improve public health. “There was no health risk in all the years we operated at 100 MPN,” says David Gremmels of Oregon’s Rogue Creamery, which produces several raw-milk blues. “We look at this as an arbitrary change.”

Cary Bryant, Rogue’s cheese maker, says he worries that the tightened standards may even impair public health. “People need some microbial diversity in their life,” says Bryant, a microbiologist by training. “This is going to create people with immune systems that can never handle anything.”

Gremmels and others say they felt blindsided by the revised FDA guidelines, learning about them only when European cheeses began being held. The agency hasn’t offered any scientific support for the altered E. coli allowance, prompting unease about its decision making.

Andy Hatch, owner of Wisconsin’s Uplands Cheese Co., announced in mid-August that he would not produce any Rush Creek Reserve this year, an acclaimed raw-milk cheese made with the farm’s rich autumn cow’s milk.

“I’m not worried about my ability to meet those standards,” says Hatch. “I’m worried about what new standards are going to show up unannounced. What if, a month from now, I have 14,000 pounds of Rush Creek in my aging room and they say ‘zero nontoxigenic bacteria?’”

The stepped-up testing creates headaches for companies like Gourmet Imports, a Los Angeles cheese importer and distributor.

“In the past year, we’ve had delays on things you never would have imagined would be held before,” reports general manager Alex Brown. Even Parmigiano-Reggiano, a well-aged, low-moisture cheese unlikely to have microbial issues, was recently held for testing.

“It’s the safest cheese on the planet,” Brown says.


How to Create the Perfect Late Summer Cheese Plate | Los Angeles Magazine

September 4th, 2014

I recently consulted with Los Angeles Magazine for a piece they were doing about how to create the perfect late summer cheese plate. Leah Park Fierro of Milk Farm and Tony Princiotta of the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills also contributed their expertise. Check it out by clicking the link below!

Experts from three of LA’s best cheese shops share their favorite end-of-summer cheeses

How to Create the Perfect Late Summer Cheese Plate | Los Angeles Magazine (September 4, 2014)

We each chose just one cheese that we felt embodied the summertime, and while I talk a little bit about it in the article, I’m going to give you all a little bit more of an in-depth description of this wonderful cheese.

Fleur Verte

Fleur Verte definitely feels like a summer cheese to me. Fleur Verte (“green flower”) is so named because the wheel of cheese resembles a giant green flower. The sides of the cheese are scalloped and it is completely covered in thyme, tarragon, and pink peppercorns.
Fleur Verte is unusual in that it is barely aged at all. Most imported goat cheeses are aged for at least a month, but this one only gets four days of aging. Goat’s milk has a tremendous amount of lactose (milk sugar) compared to cow’s milk. That is why fresh goat’s milk on the farm tastes so sweet and delicious. All of that lactose gets converted into lactic acid during the aging process which accounts for the high levels of acid in many goat cheeses. Because of the short aging of Fleur Verte, however, this cheese retains a lot of its natural sweetness.
This style of cheesemaking has much to do with the environment and local traditions of production. Fleur Verte is from Périgord, France. Many of you I am sure have heard of Périgord. If not, it’s a great place to visit, but a bit out of the way (I always feel like the French tourism board should pay me for these descriptions). Perhaps the most interesting features of the region are the caves of Lascaux. This is where the oldest cave paintings were discovered.

Dordogne River, Périgord

Digression finished – Périgord is just southwest of central France tucked between Bordeaux and the volcanoes of the Massif Central. The Dordogne River runs from Bordeaux straight through Périgord. The region is renowned around the world for its truffles, Foie Gras, and duck Confit (my favorite dish in the world). The traditional style for the goat’s cheeses of the region uses a slow fermentation. This gives the milk a fuller, smoother flavor as opposed to the famous goat cheeses from the north which are much more acidic.
The flavor of Fleur Verte is definitely herbal, but balanced with the sweetness and acidity of this beautiful cheese. It has a nice, clean, lemony finish and I just love this summer cheese with Bandol, the famous Rosé wine from Provence.


It’s Our 6th Anniversary!!!

August 15th, 2014

Everyone who comes into the shop that day and gives us a ‘Like’ or a ‘Follow’ on any (or all) of our social media accounts will walk away with this amazing reusable bag (while supplies last)!
acs reusable bag


5 Raw Cheeses You’ll Melt For | The Chalkboard

August 12th, 2014

I don’t know how this one slipped by me.  I talk to a lot of people and I say yes to almost every single interview request, and I’m usually good about staying in touch and getting a copy of the final product when it’s done, but as you can tell by this article’s “4.4.12” date, I’m a little late on this one.

The good news is that this is an evergreen article — all 5 of the raw cheeses I recommend in this article are still just as good as they where when I recommended them!  Click on the link below to read the article!

 The Chalkboard | 5 Raw Cheeses You’ll Melt For: Andrew Steiner's Top Picks

The Chalkboard | 5 Raw Cheeses You’ll Melt For: Andrew Steiner’s Top Picks
(April 2012)


August 29th Grilled Cheese & Beer Night!

August 8th, 2014
Grilled Cheese & Beer

Grilled Cheese & Beer Night, August 29th!

Grilled Cheese & Beer Night | August 29th, 2014 | Andrew’s Cheese Shop

This family-style event has been our most popular. Join us now and see what the excitement has been all about! The cost is $47.50 (plus tax) per person. We have now slightly upgraded the event to have a salad, four courses of our famous grilled cheeses (paired with four specialty beers), and an awesome, new dessert course of an Imperial Stout Float with French Vanilla Ice cream! The event sells out quickly, so check our calendar for upcoming dates, or email us to get on the list for the next event.

If you are interested in booking this event privately, please let us know and we’ll be happy to find a date and go over the details with you. The per person cost is the same and there is a $600.00 minimum for a private event. We are also now offering a premium event for $67.50 per person which switches out one of the beers for sparkling wine and we use super-premium beers for the others.

*NOTE: Please let us know if anybody in your party has any dietary restrictions.

**Due to the incessant flakiness of a small percentage of Los Angelenos, ALL SALES ARE FINAL.


September 12th Grilled Cheese & Beer Night!

August 8th, 2014
Grilled Cheese & Beer

Grilled Cheese & Beer Night, September 12th!

Grilled Cheese & Beer Night | September 12th, 2014 | Andrew’s Cheese Shop

This family-style event has been our most popular. Join us now and see what the excitement has been all about! The cost is $47.50 (plus tax) per person. We have now slightly upgraded the event to have a salad, four courses of our famous grilled cheeses (paired with four specialty beers), and an awesome, new dessert course of an Imperial Stout Float with French Vanilla Ice cream! The event sells out quickly, so check our calendar for upcoming dates, or email us to get on the list for the next event.

If you are interested in booking this event privately, please let us know and we’ll be happy to find a date and go over the details with you. The per person cost is the same and there is a $600.00 minimum for a private event. We are also now offering a premium event for $67.50 per person which switches out one of the beers for sparkling wine and we use super-premium beers for the others.

*NOTE: Please let us know if anybody in your party has any dietary restrictions.

**Due to the incessant flakiness of a small percentage of Los Angelenos, ALL SALES ARE FINAL.


Location and Hours

728 Montana Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90403 (Google Map)

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Phone: 310-393-3308

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