Back in June 2016, Sarah E Crowder and I both wanted to do something creatively inspired by cheese, as it stands as sculpture. Artisan cheese, in its essence, is a work of art and craftsmanship.
I often think that my entire career in cheese has been expression of the first moment the craft really spoke to me: as a nineteen year old cheese-monger at Cowgirl Creamery. I was lucky enough to taste wheels of the same cheese in succession, and note their subtle differences due to their seasonal and handcrafted nature. For example, each wheel of the blue cheese, Bleu D'Auvergne, tasted like a chapter in a story. Each taste blossomed and rattled images from my memory. The story's introduction went something like this: a horse (barnyard notes) walks through a meadow (grassy notes) and an apple orchard (fruity notes), and stops at a stream for a sip of water (metallic and flint notes). This was a moment where cheese was both tangible and esoteric in its experience. I was absolutely giddy with the sensation and the discovery. Although I knew I could never recreate that specific day, or that wheel of handcrafted cheese, I knew that the inspiration was something worth chasing.
Sarah and I visited Formaggio Essex and Foster Sundry, two cheese shops in the NYC area who generously offered their cheeses as models for our project. We wanted to capture their fermenting momentary essence: a meditation on their rinds, a conversation between the internal paste and the external rind exposed to the elements. Each wheel houses a wonderland of experience, months of animal, milk, and curd knowledge. I believe the visual cues from the photos reflect this.
Do you have a cheese moment that inspired and committed you to the quest for amazing cheese? Tag your rind photos #mindtherind on IG, and feel free to share your comments below.
All photos by Sarah E Crowder, styled by me.
Featured from top to bottom: Corsu Vecchiu: Corsican Sheep Milk Cheese, Garrotxa: Spanish Goat Milk Cheese, Pawlet: American Cow Milk Cheese, Maxorata Pimenton: Spanish Goat Milk Cheese, Gruyere AOP: Swiss Cow Milk Cheese, Flory's Truckle: American Cow Milk Cheese, Spur Blue: American Cow Milk Cheese.