Thursday, May 4, 2017

Havarti Cheesemaking & Artisan Food Slabs from American Stonecraft

Today I would like to talk about cheese and food slabs. Let's start with the cheese.

I would consider myself to be an intermediate cheesemaker. I have made quite a variety of cheeses over the years, more recently delving into the more complex and time-consuming world of aged cheeses. My niche is definitely mold-ripened cheeses, as my Stilton and Camembert have been quite exquisite for my first attempts.

More recently I tried my hand at my first washed-curd cheese, a natural rind Havarti. Havarti is one of my favorite cheeses, and an excellent addition to grilled cheeses and macaroni and cheese, two of the best uses of melty cheeses in the history of comfort food.

Young Havarti prior to aging
The cheese turned out well after aging for a couple months, but I did struggle a bit during the aging process to keep my rind mold-free. I think this mildly impacted the flavor of the Havarti (we had to really trim the rind before eating to ensure it didn't have any stinky notes) and also the Havarti-aging experience. It was more challenging to keep a watchful eye on this cheese since you want to AVOID the mold growth unlike the mold-ripened cheeses I've made in the past.

Honestly, I don't think I would make Havarti again, and a big part of the reason is my struggle with mold. If I had sealed my cheese in wax or even a vacuum-sealed bag it would have been much easier to age, but I opted to try a natural rind and it definitely created more trouble than it was worth.

I still ended up with a beautiful wheel of cheese! I photographed it atop a hand-crafted food slab made by a local artisan. Let me back track a tad and tell you the story about the day I purchased it.

I also got this cool cheese knife with my purchase!

My sister and I were spending the day in Boston prior to checking out one of our all-time favorite bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, perform that evening. We randomly discovered the Boston Public Market, a pretty incredible space featuring many local vendors and food stalls. As we wandered through the market we happened upon a display of incredible food slabs, trivets, and coasters all made of stone. Here we met Gerald Croteau III, the founder of American Stonecraft, a Lowell, MA based studio that works with local farmers to unearth buried fieldstones from their farms and repurpose them into usable works of art.

Fieldstones are sliced and polished by hand to create one-of-a-kind treasures that can be used for serving and in some cases cooking food. Food slabs, cook slabs, trivets, and coasters are just a few of the impressive products created by these artists. The fieldstones are recovered from farms all across New England, and the bottom of each product is stamped with the name of the farm where that stone was sourced. Pretty cool, huh?

As a native New Englander and avid foodie, I was really excited to add one of these beautiful products to my kitchen. It's about as farm-to-table as you can get! I plan to purchase more, as each item is tremendously unique and can find many purposes in my home. In fact, here's a fun list of 101 different ways to use a food slab. You can read more about the history and process of American Stonecraft here, but in the meantime, if you would like to check out more of these products please click on the image below (disclaimer: this is an affiliate link, and I will receive a small percentage of purchases made using this link).

Custom Stonecraft

These products are so beautiful and special, truly a wonderful gift idea, but also a great treat for yourself. I couldn't resist purchasing a food slab for myself, and I'm totally in love with it. It reminds me a bit of a black-and-white version of the surface of Jupiter, with the beautiful swirly characteristics within the rock, and the Big Red Spot, which in this case is white. Each item is truly one-of-a-kind, and I think that's part of what makes it special. You also get to feel a real connection knowing exactly which farm each product came from.

I am hoping to visit the studio in the near future for a tour, and will definitely share more images and information about American Stonecraft at that time!

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this post, and I purchased my food slab myself. This post contains an affiliate link for American Stonecraft. My opinions are always my own.


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