Welcome to the blog of the Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. Pull up a bar stool and experience our Counter Culture!

I'm Andy Meddick, Owner and President of the Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. In 2005, I left my corporate I.T. job in Washington DC, to relocate with my spouse's business to the DE beaches. What to do now we live in a state where chicken houses can often outnumber human? Faced with a four hour round trip to the closest decent food market, I opened my first store, Good For You Market, a full service grocery store, focusing on organic, natural, and gourmet foods. In the worst economy since the 1930s, I won Best of Delaware awards three years running. After four years, I decided to simplify the business, re-aligning to focus on what we did best. The result is the Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. We sell (retail and wholesale) artisan/farmstead cheeses, charcuterie, organic produce,and other specialty foods such as spices and seasonings. We also teach cheese classes, cater, sell online, and consult with other businesses to build their cheese programs.

I've learned much since starting out. For example, staffing was a steep learning curve, and I discovered that a savvy sales and marketing professional lay dormant in an I.T. geek! Systems analysis, business analysis, database design and development, data architecture, web design, specialty cheeses and foods, organic farming, catering, and cooking. What do all these threads have in common? Curiosity! It begets technique, which in turn begets better solutions to commond needs. Why complain about lack of choice, if you're not willing to offer an alternative? Our move, and my business development has taught me to participate in life, and to be ever curious! Enjoy!

Aug 31, 2009

You had me at, "Bon Appetit!"

G4U Market goes to the movies!

From the minute the lights dimmed, we were pulled into "Julie & Julia." Meryl Streep coos her way through a stunning, earthy performance as Julia Child, channeling the gourmande in a study of statuesque, gawky, elemental elegance. Amy Adams is wonderful in the role of Julie - a good counter balance of imperfect human preventing us from veering over into hero(ine) worship.

Julie and Julia are passionate about food and both a validation to those who persist when all they hear is, "No you can't!" Those who shudder with pure sensuality in a public setting at the taste of a dish are bound to be intertesting characters! Being so closely connected with one's senses makes for one feisty individual. Like them, or leave them, you can't ignore them!

If you don't leave the screening hungry, or wanting to take cooking classes, then you must have been in the wrong room at the multiplex. Go see this movie with lots of friends. You'll see their experience on their faces. We all connect over food. We all route for a plucky trailblazer. It's hard to pick favorite scenes in such a delightful, charming movie. I particularly enjoyed scenes of cooking demos gone awry. When you have an audience willing to listen and then soldier on despite slapstick mistakes; I found this touching and uncomfortably funny. Any Chefs or in-store demo folks out there had the same experience? I sense a few red faces! And who does not state the famous quote when screwing up in your kitchen, "When you're alone in your kitchen, no-one knows but you!"

The final scene juxtaposed between Julia Child's Cambridge kitchen, now silenty displayed at the Smithsonian Museum, and the same kitchen in-situ at Julia and Paul Childs's Cambridge home, struck a poignant resonance for me. Life's too short to eat inauthentic, bland food. Life's too short not to share that with others. Never, ever give up. Be insatiably curious and live life out loud. Include others. That's what I take away from this movie. What's your takeout?

Good job Nora Ephron and cast.

Andy for Good For You Market.

Aug 29, 2009

It is said that the herb Rosemary is for remembrance. If that's the case then I must not be eating enough rosemary since I always forget I have it in the garden!

This woody, perennial evergreen gets its name from the Latin ros maris which translates to "dew of the sea" indicating the geographic preference of this Mediterranean native. Rosemary will grow just about anywhere in the garden, but prefers lots of light. As with any herb, keeping regularly trimmed stimulates plenty of new growth. Avoid trimming by late summer since rosemary will produce a stunning display of delicate lilac flowers.

Rosemary later came to be known as the Rose of Mary in honor of the Virgin Mother. The Spanish dubbed the shrubby plant Romero as they believed that Mary took shelter under a large rosemary bush while en route to Egypt. In France, the herb was sometimes referred to as Incensier since it was an economical alternative to incense and was often burned in ceremonial rituals.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is recognized throughout the world as the symbol of remembrance. Rosemary signifies remembering the dead and the tradition of placing rosemary sprigs in tombs or on burial sites dates back to ancient Egypt. Shakespeare's Juliet was honored with rosemary at burial, and in Australia, the custom of wearing rosemary on Anzac Day to remember deceased loved ones persists today. There is a practice of including rosemary in wedding bouquets, or adding to the red wine served at wedding parties. Try adding some fresh rosemary (go easy tiger!) to your red wine, it is delicious.

Medicinally, rosemary has been used to treat migraine, muscle aches, joint disorders, amenorrhea, exhaustion, poor memory and digestion and just about anything else that could affect the body. Massage Therapists use rosemary to increase peripheral circulation. Oil of Rosemary can be massaged into joints to ease arthritic or rheumatic pain, although since rosemary is a stimulant, avoid at bedtime. Rosemary is thought to induce contractions, so is best avoided during pregnancy.

The essential oil of rosemary has an antibacterial and antiviral action and is useful in treating burns and wounds or when used in homemade household cleaning formulas. Added to pet shampoos or powders, the oil is also helpful in deterring fleas and in treating flea dermatitis. It is also an excellent remedy for dandruff in people since it deters skalp flaking.

As a culinary herb, rosemary is a wonderful accompaniment to meats (especially poultry and ham), vegetables, soups and salads. Here are some lovely recipes involving rosemary:

Caramelized Onion, Pear, Blue Cheese & Rosemary Topping: http://tinyurl.com/n8oyjw

Abruzze Sausage over Rosemary Spaghettini or Spaghetti Squash (can be made vegan): http://tinyurl.com/mnf6ds

Rosemary Orange Shortbread: http://tinyurl.com/nupwp4

Remember to share,and yes all these ingredients may be purchase at G4U Market in Lewes, DE!

Andy for G4U Market.

Aug 25, 2009

Coffee Talk with Andy

Life's just too short to drink bad coffee or bad tea. Tea is covered in another article. Here are my tips on coffee.

Arabica or Robusta: There are two types of coffee plant (beans): Arabica, and Robusta. The Arabica coffee plant (Coffea Arabica), grows in semitropical climates near the equator, both in the western and eastern hemispheres, at high altitudes. Because ripe Arabica cherries (unroasted beans) fall to the ground and spoil, they must be carefully monitored and picked at intervals, which increases production costs. Robusta trees (Coffea Canephora), which are grown exclusively in the eastern hemisphere, also thrive in equatorial climates, but at low altitudes. Their cherries require less care since they remain on the tree after they ripen. Robusta beans have twice the caffeine of Arabica, but less flavor. Most generic, commercially produced coffee comes from the poorer quality Robusta plant. Think freeze-dried generic 'instant' coffee. Ugh! Good food markets and coffee shops generally use Arabica beans. Once you have tasted the difference for yourself, you will not need persuading to buy Arabica over Robusta.
Storage: I'm going to offend some old wives, but we take our coffee seriously at G4U Market, so here goes! Never, ever, no never, store coffee beans in the fridge or the freezer. I know, caught me out too! As soon as you get your treasured beans home, empty into an airtight container that does not let the light in. Keep on your counter top, or pantry at room temperature. The fridge or freezer will cause your beans to absorb moisture and spoil the flavor. We all know what water retention does for a girl. Same for coffee! If you do not want to store coffee in large amounts, find a good food market who will allow you to purchase loose beans by the pound. You only buy as much as you need and the price is typically better.
Daily Grind: Buy beans and invest in your own coffee grinder, or better still have the market grind it for you since commercial coffee grinders produce evenly sized grinds, affecting taste enormously. Ground coffee is best for only minutes after grinding the beans before the flavor starts to spoil. Ground coffee has a greater surface area exposed to oxygen than roasted beans. If you have had beans custom roasted for you, wait 2 - 4 days before grinding and consuming. This allows the oil in the beans to settle for optimum flavor.

The size of the ground coffee particles must match the type of brewing equipment you will be using. Brewing methods which expose the grinds to water for longer periods require a coarser grind than faster brewing methods. Beans which are too finely ground for the brewing method in which they are used will expose too much surface area to the heated water and produce a bitter, harsh taste. An overly coarse grind will produce weak coffee unless more is used. Long-brew methods are French Presses ("Cafetière") and drip coffee machines. A short brew method is an espresso machine. Home coffee grinders at the lower end of the price range use a rotating blade to chop the coffee beans. Blade grinders create coffee dust which can clog espresso machines and French Presses. Blade grinders can be purchased inexpensively these days and work OK for drip coffee machines. Finely ground coffee and coffee intended for French Presses require a burr-grinder which tears the beans into a uniform size. To save money, it really is preferrable to have your market grind your coffee beans for you. Let your market know which type of coffee brewing equipment you will be using, since they can match the size of the coffee grounds to your brewing method.

Strength: How much coffee to use? Of course it depends on the depth of the roast, and personal preference, but a general guide is 2 slightly heaped tablespoons of ground coffee per 6oz water. Experiment with your coffee equipment and record your personal taste. If your local water tastes funny, or is high in lime, invest in a filter for your water supply. Bottled water will do in a pinch, but please recycle the bottle! Using poor quality water wastes your hard earned cash spent on buying decent beans. Not buying decent beans is just too grim to consider and best not discussed.
Water Temperature: recommended brewing temperature of coffee is 200 °F (93 °C). Too cool and solubles that make up the flavor will not be extracted. Too hot, and undesirable, bitter solubles will be extracted, spoiling the flavor. Espresso is an exception, brewed at a water temperature of between 91 °C (195 °F) and 96 °C (204 °F). Espresso is made by forcing hot water through finely ground beans which have been packed into a "Puck." The grinds are only griefly exposed to the water. The essence of taste in espresso is due to the fine colloidal foam ("Crema") containing emulsified oils which layers on top of the brew.
Organic, Fair Trade, Shade-grown: Oh my, can't a guy just get a cup of Joe? Well, that generic mass-produced coffee you buy everywhere in the big boxes is not as cheap as you think it is. We're bearing the cost of conventional coffee in communities barely surviving on rock-bottom pricing, land erosion, more and more chemicals being utilized to produce less and less coffee. I would encourage everyone to seek out markets who only sell organic, Fair Trade, and Shade-grown coffee. What is this?
Organic - obviously no chemicals.
Fair Trade - the growers get a fair price for their crop, workers are paid a fair, living wage, more of the profit from the distribution of the crop goes directly back into the communities who grew it for us. This is evident in higher wages, strengthened communities through profits being used for schools, roads, sustainable farming training, and increased availability of the crop due to more farmers remaining on the land, farming. You've heard it said, "No Farms, No Food." Distribution layers are consolidated with the farmer typically gaining direct access to distribution without multiple layers of handlers.
Shade-grown. In order to maintain low production prices, coffee has typically been grown by clear-cutting native trees and planting coffee bushes in place. With no cover and with a ecosystem disrupted, the soil dries out, and erodes. Also such soil requires masses of chemicals to supplement soil fertility and reduce pests. This causes toxic runoff and loss of wildlife habitat on treeless areas. Shade grown means growing coffee bushes in the shade of native trees, or by planting a forest of shade-trees with many layers of tree canopy to mimic native forests. Wildlife habitats are preserved, or created, soil fertility is built naturally.
Tips and Recommendations: My preferred brewing method is espresso. However Espresso machines are very expensive, so I typically favor the simple French Press as an excellent compromise. The flavor is good since the coffee grinds remain in direct contact with the water, and the press captures more of the coffee's flavor and essential oils. There are very nifty travel mug versions of French Presses now available which makes it easy to get good coffee on the go. French pressed coffee is best drunk within 20 minutes, becoming bitter after that due to the coffee sediment being retained in the brewed coffee. There is some thought that French pressed coffee should be avoided by those with high cholesterol since compounds in unfiltered coffee are thought to increase cholesterol.

Letting coffee sit on a warming plate in a caraffe is not good for flavor since the brewed coffee begins to burn. Best to choose thermal airpots to dispense brewed coffee in food service locations. Do not reheat your coffee in a microwave (sorry Mother-in-law!). You might as well pour it over the garden since coffee (and spent coffee grinds) are high in nitrogen and good for the soil (use organic!).

Always use Organic, Fair Trade, Shade-grown coffee beans.

Recap: What must we do, asides from putting recycle in the trash? And, oh yeah, G4U Market sells loose, Organic, Fair Trade, Shade-grown coffee and can grind it for you. We also use the coffee we sell in Auntie's Bar (our organic juice, coffee and tea bar).

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