Monday, April 27, 2009

Changes, etc.

So it's been almost an entire year since my last post. For all 7 of you who read this blog, I apologize for the delay.

Last time I wrote, I was in the world of cheese, loving every minute. I definitely consider my self somewhat of an expert now - I have taught a few Cheese 101 classes and have gotten great reviews. But sadly that came to an end in February.

The big news - I am pregnant! 32 weeks as of yesterday. My cheese job was just too labor-intensive. Lifting and moving around wheels of cheese upwards of 80 pounds just doesn't cut it when you have a belly blocking the way!!

So, I left in February and started a brief internship as an editorial assistant at a food magazine. I get to fact check, edit, and will actually have a piece published (if all goes well) in the June issue. Yay! Guess what it's subject is - Cheese, sort of.

So this job ends on Friday and we are off for a week in the sun in Florida, and then I get to sit around doing nothing until the baby comes, sometime mid to late June.

I have no clue what I will do in the food world now. I feel like I have done it. I've been a butcher, a baker, a cook, a cheesemonger, a cheese ager, a teacher, and a writer.
I have toyed with the idea of launching a food product - I even have the product. It's my chopped liver. People won't shut up about it when I make it. But it has like zero days shelf-life and I haven' t figured out how to seal it properly.

Other than that, I guess I'll become my baby's chef. I am planning to make my famous brownies this week, so that's something, I guess. I miss cheese terribly, and I miss restaurants terribly, but I'm really excited to be a mommy too. We haven't found out what we're having, so it will be a big surprise.

I think this is the end for now of food-oriented blogging for me. Maybe I'll change this to a blog about my baby. We'll see. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I actually like my job. I can't believe I am saying this, after my insane job ADD of the last year, but it's true. I bust my butt all day for at least 10 hours, usually 11 plus, and I go home happy at the end.

Oh yeah, I haven't written about my job. I was hired full-time to work in the caves. I get to spend all day doing something I really like, learning a lot, and working insanely fast and hard. Of course, I do other stuff too - it isn't all fun and games and cheese babysitting, but it's the icing on the cake.

Now, onto a scarier note. A friend of mine caters on the side, and couldn't do a job this weekend, so she passed it on to me.
I thought, Hey, I could use a few extra bucks! I love to entertain. How hard can it be?
I am a pretty neurotic person, so just the planning and list-making is driving me mad! I am pretty sure it will go off without a hitch, and I think everything will taste good, but I worry about the pre-game Leanna that I will have to deal with!

We'll see how it goes. It's a baby shower, so at least the pregnant lady will be nice and hungry!

Oh, and a side note. July 3rd marks one year working in restaurants/the food biz. And it is about 1-1/2 years since the big change. I have to say, although the money sucks, I am truly happy in my career. So there, all you people who think I should go back to Landscape Architecture.

Sorry for the boring post, to all my 7 readers! I'll try to be more exciting next time, and I'll include photos from my gig. Here's the menu:

1: Homemade ricotta with honey on gourmet cracker
2. Potato pancake with herbed mascarpone cheese and proscuitto
3. Sausage and cheese croissant
1. Vegetable Strata
2. Poached salmon
1. Spinach salad with peaches and walnuts with walnut vinaigrette
2. Pasta salad with pesto, chicken and feta
3. baked bbq chicken wing with smoky ranch dipping sauce
4. Fried risotto balls stuffed with chorizo
1. Double chocolate walnut chunk cookies(to take home)
2. Fruit kabobs with yogurt dipping sauce

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cheese Boot Camp

Since I got called out as being a hypocrite for my last posting(which I totally was, by the way), I decided to drop my anger and irritation about people having food blogs. I have one, so why shouldn't everyone?

Anyway, back to my most important topic of late - CHEESE!
I attended a weekend cheese boot camp this past weekend. I got to go for free because I work at the shop where it's held, so I was lucky not to have to spend the $500 fee.

It was as amazing as it sounds. There was so much information, from the history of cheese, to the way to distinguish types, ages, etc, to ageing, making, and even pairing with both wines and beers. WOW! I ate (no joke) 43 different cheeses over the course of the weekend.

I actually had to buy Tums on Sunday night when I got home. But lo and behold, Monday afternoon, I was sampling a new cheese from Ireland that we got in called Durros, and enjoying it immensely.

I guess it's the same thing as eating too much candy when you're a kid. Your mother tells you not to, but you do it anyway. Then, you get that awful feeling in your stomach and you know you went too far.
But, as soon as you feel better, you forget how sick you were, and go ahead and eat more candy. Cheese is my candy, but I also eat a lot of candy! But whatever the consequences were, I learned a ton of new information both about cheese in general and also about specific cheeses and styles. Very exciting time for me.

And as for my rennet dilemma, I am officially over it. I thought back to my dairy days, and while I am sure that no animal rennet was used to make the cheeses that I ate while in Israel, I am also sure that cows died in the dairy business. Whether it was the male calves being shipped off to be veal, or the adult femals with udder infections going off to who knows where, there was and always will be death associated with milk production, and since you can't have good cheese without milk, either you get over it or you don't. There may be cheese made without vegetable rennet, but to call it vegetarian is a misnomer.

That is my rant for today.
I have noticed that I do a lot of ranting. Hopefully it amuses some of you out there.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Does everyone have a food blog?

Wow, I think they do. I have at least 2 other friends who write about food, post recipes, etc. And when I did a search on google, I got 23 million hits. Wow!
Also, the other day I saw 2 people run into each other after a long time and one gave the other her card and said, "I write a food blog, check it out".
What made everyone think they are experts on food all of a sudden? Am I included in this annoying group of food snobs? I really hope not.
I don't post recipes and I don't go into serious detail about dishes I ate at home or out. Maybe I'm a food blog snob?
I will, however, admit, that after learning about and working with cheese for this past month, I am most certainly a cheese snob, and I am perfectly okay with that. There is a big difference between what you get in a grocery store and what you get from specialty producers. It's amazing. I encourage everyone to go into your local cheese shop and try something. They will let you try anything you want, and if they don't, it isn't a good shop. See what you think. I guarantee that if you like cheese, it will be life-changing.
Good luck with that. And feel free to blog about it afterward. That's my rant for today.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

This just in...

I found something out on Tuesday that upset me a great deal.

Just a warning - this is going to be about cheese, so if you aren't interested, this would be a good stopping point.

As part of this new cheese life that I am starting, I went to a Cheese 101 class on Tuesday afternoon. It all started out so well. We were getting to taste 9 different cheeses, all looking and smelling delicious. I have to admit, I was just as excited for this as I was for my first day of culinary school(I was super-excited for that).

Anyway, we start learning about what makes cheese, cheese. Aparently, a coagulant is added to milk to make it change it's form, etc.

There are 3 types of coagulant. Now, bear in mind that I was in the middle of tasting a delicious cheddar from England as I was being told this.

The 1st type(and I'm not going to go into the other 2) is called animal rennet. This is an enzyme that comes from the stomach lining of unweaned animals. You may be saying, so? Well, the animal has to freaking DIE to get this. Animals DIE to make cheese?????? WHAT?
Maybe I've been living on another planet and should've known this already, but that really upset me. You may be asking yourself and me, for that matter, Leanna, don't you eat pretty much everything?

Yes, I do. I eat fois gras, I have eaten chicken and eggs that are not free-range, I have eaten and enjoyed lots of farmed fish, but I draw the line at veal. And for some reason, I equate this with it - I guess because the animal is so young and helpless, etc.

Again you may be confused. I know that this seems confusing, but you need to know a little bit more about me to understand my kinship with cows.

When I was 18-19, I lived in Israel, and for part of that time, I lived on a kibbutz, and my job was to help birth and raise the calves. In the time that I was there, I helped in approximately 75 births. I also watched sadly as the male calves were shipped off to become veal, and although I was perfectly able to continue eating beef, veal just became something very sad to me.
Don't believe me? Check out these photos of a much younger and chubbier Leanna.

Yes, those are jelly shoes...

For those of you who might be upset about this, don't worry. Just buy American-made cheeses(these are made with non-meat enzymes) or kosher cheeses. I wish I knew this back when I kept kosher. I am pretty sure I broke a lot of laws just in the cheese department.

I am going to try to get over this for the sake of learning and realize that all meat I eat was killed so that I could eat it, and at least this animal isn't made to suffer like veal. I'll just keep telling myself that. It still isn't making it easy to sleep at night.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy Girl!

Well, I turned 30 today. I must admit, I was dreading it for a while, but over the last few months, I stopped caring. I always swore that I would be in the best shape of my life by this time and come up with a million dollar idea.

Not only am I not in the best shape of my life, I think I put on a few pounds in the last couple of weeks. But alas, I am super-vain, and I have not worn anything larger than a size 6 since I was 14 years old. My size 6's may be tight now, but I refuse to go up a size. That's how it all starts...
And by the way, no million dollar idea yet either.

So, you may ask, Leanna, why are you happy today? Well, I'm glad you asked.

I am starting my dream job in a couple of weeks. Well, it's sort of my dream job.

Most of you that I talk to often know that I am pretty much obsessed with cheese, and happen to have a good palette for it. Who knew?

Anyway, back in September, I toured the cheese caves at a very famous cheese shop here in the City and I actually felt serious feelings of jealousy for the girl who ran the place, called an affineur(translated from French as a finisher). She gets the cheeses that have been made recently and puts them in the caves and then ages them perfectly to be sold to restaurants or at the retail counter. WOW.

Well, just yesterday I was offered an internship position at said cheese shop in said caves to help with the finishing. WOW again!

The reason why it isn't a dream job is that it is unpaid, and only 2 days a week and won't lead to a position in the caves, but could lead to something in the organization. It's a start, nonetheless.

And so you may now be wondering what these caves look like...I'm glad you asked that as well. Below is a picture I took while on the tour.

Nice, huh?
So now I find myself with the issue of earning a paycheck and finding something for the rest of the week.
I am talking to 3 prospective clients about private cheffing. I am super excited about that as well. I hope it won't be like landscape architecture...
When we worked for a corporate client, they understood that we were very busy and didn't knitpick at us for every little thing, but when I worked for private people, they thought they owned me and would call with every single issue. I guess I'll have to see what happens.
I think that's all I've got for now, but I promise to touch base when I know more about my awesome free job!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Facebook is killing me!

So there I was 2 days ago, sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when my coworker says to me: Leanna, are you on Facebook?

This innocent little question has led me to not only sign up for it, but also to go to this website hundreds of times a day.

It has become like crack to me.

For those who may be wondering what office I am speaking of - don't.
This was a very short-lived attempt I took at consulting in the food business. I came to learn that people in this realm might actually be crazier than chefs...who knew?

That's all I am going to say about that. I refuse to talk about it further.

I am off...back to facebook I run.