Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Big Cheese

Opposite Seattle's Pike Public Market, Beecher's Handmade Cheese showcases their process through wrap-around storefront windows.  Giant vats containing hundreds of gallons of milk are transformed into cheese curds.
Re-visiting the place over the course of my stay in Seattle, I not only came to appreciate what a curd is (more on that later), but the simple dedication the task requires to repeat the process every day in front of watching crowds.
A curdling agent, such as rennet, is added to the milk. Then begins the long process of separating the curds from the whey (solids from liquids).  The resulting chunks have a clean, tangy, flavor.
When I asked about its melting properties, visa-vie pizza, a salesperson said that the curds will soften and stretch but will not spread and drip.
Storefront 'micro-factories' such as this have the advantage of visually drawing people who otherwise might pass a sign that read "CURDS".  Like olive oil and vinegar shops, a tasting line further gets people to cross that essential line that brings them closer to buying and using the product.
Micro-breweries have used this to great advantage.  The storefront windows present the physical and metaphoric spirit of 'transparency' for industries.
Wood-fired brick oven pizzerias use this up-front prep and cooking area to great advantage.
At the risk of sounding anachronistic, ALL manufacture once had this transparency.  It's the modern version of the village shoemaker.
For previous blog on cheese production see: truebrickovens.blogspot.com/2011/01/cheese.html

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