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!

Jan 29, 2010

I'm on a gnocchi roll this week. Gnocchi are so easy to make, there's no excuse for discarding any less than perfect vegetables in your pantry. Just peel, cube, and steam the vegetable of choice. Then mash it, or, if you have a potato ricer (and why not if you don't?), it's a breeze.

I've been experimenting with Rutabaga, Yukon Gold Potatoes and Spinach, or Broccoli, Winter Squashes (Butternut, Acorn, Kabocha), Carrot, Gold Beets, Red Beets, Sweet Potatoes, and Parsnips. The result has been a range of flavors (mild to sweet and earthy), and color (pale green, pale yellow, golden orange, and deep red).

I'm working on an article for The Grapevine (Good For You Market's E-newsletter) and my Organic Living column in the E-zine Coastal Sussex Weekly. I'll post photos of my gnocchi, together with a discussion of Gnocchi in a few days when I'm done experimenting and come out of my starch induced high!

Spread the word about Good For You Market and our E-newsletter and this blog. This time of year is especially hard for beach area businesses and we need all the support we can get. Help us change the perception that we are an expensive, "Healthfood Store." We're a serious food market that also carries health food. We're cheaper than the big boxes and have better quality food, and rare, 'Foodie' items you just cannot find elsewhere at the DE beaches. Send us a message you value this choice before I give up working like a dog on this business!

To sign up for The Grapevine, our E-newsletter, visit the Good For You Market website http://www.good4uorganic.com/

To follow or read our Blog Curious and Cooking, well you're already reading it aren't cha Blanche?

Jan 28, 2010

Dum da-da, dum da-da…

Are you a, “Man/woman on a mission?” I am. I have a mission to get us cooking. If we make it ourselves then we know what’s gone into it. At the very least we understand the waiter when they’re discussing the specials, or know what a huge deal it is when a local chef posts live Maine Lobstah, or boasts of rutabaga in a subtly sweet gnocchi – a vegetable we would never eat otherwise.

We’re all so distracted – so much information from so many media. It’s overwhelming, but if we have access to a computer, how is there ever an excuse for not knowing where to start? Whenever I asked my Dad how to spell, or drove him nuts with, "Dad, dad, dad, what’s that?” Dad would say, “Look it up!” Look it up for us meant a 2-hour trip to the town library. Look it up today is as easy as getting the kids, or spouse off of Facebook so we can get a turn with the computer.

I’ve been half-heartedly ‘learning’ Italian, French, and Spanish for a decade. Ten years is enough time to be reasonably fluent in any of these languages. Technique fascinates me. Not being able to communicate drives me nuts. I don’t just mean traditional spoken languages, what about so called, “Insider jargon?” In other words - when a TV chef discusses a, “rolling boil,” or, “Brunoise/finely dice,” or, “the acid in the lemon brings out/ruins the balance of…” Martha Stewart shows us how to debone a chicken, having just crocheted a pot-holder and carved a cutting board out of a single block of maple. There’s a little bit of Martha in us all, but I think we get overwhelmed, instead of learning how to selectively focus and learn by incremental steps.

I’ve just been listening to a chef on the radio discussing pasta and pasta sauces for simple mid-week dinners. He knew his stuff – making of pasta: bronze die cuts, hand rolling, air-drying, which shape to choose for which sauce… However, he lost me at hello! He began by instructing us to buy our pasta at our neighborhood pasta store. What the fricasse?

Before we all go searching our hood for our pasta store, do we know how to make a basic sauce? Can we budget out a weekly shop, navigate the internet scanning for ingredient glossaries, print recipes, download a video on how to chop an onion so we get just onion and not the finger? Do we know how to prepare meats and vegetables, how to dice, puree, buy the minimal number of pans, knives and kitchen gadgets we really need, how to balance acid and sweetness, understand the role of fat in a recipe? The poor chef cannot possibly cover all this in his allotted 30 minutes.

Chef did a great job: advocating making inexpensive sauces from scratch, and hand-making ravioli in large batches for freezing and use ahead. However, again, I felt overwhelmed at the volume of what I didn’t know. Faced with this, it’s natural to give up and buy an unsatisfying junk-laden pasta sauce - overly salted to disguise inferior ingredients. I felt like I was being taken from the linguistic equivalent of learning how to ask for the bill, to discussing whether the Director’s cut of Bladerunner is the better version.

I’ve set my bar so high with language skills that I’ve let fear of not knowing enough, or wanting to be an expert lead me to a destination ten years in the making. I still can’t ask what’s in my meal when ordering on vacation. I don’t need to be able to discuss Kafka with my specialty food vendors for whom English is not their first language. Their English is fluent enough for that! I would however like to be sociable and to be able to connect with them. This year, I will become proficient with basic Italian to ask my cheese vendor how his family is, which type of milk is in the cheese, and what time of year the cheese is made instead of just, ‘looking it up.’ I will re-kindle my high-school French enough to pass the time of day with my lovely local French lady customer at the store. I will learn basic Spanish so I can find a supplier of authentic Dulce de Leche when we’re in Argentina.

Studies show that people who cook for themselves maintain better control over their weight and physical health, not to mention financial health, and the social benefits of sharing a meal! We’d all benefit from learning some basic cooking skills.

Don’t be so intimidated by the volume of information you don’t know, or by the need to get it perfect, that you never try. If all else fails, have a few takeout menus in your kitchen drawer. If you love to eat out, plan restaurant visits into your budget, shop the specials and, if they’re not too backed up in the kitchen, talk to the chef and understand what you’re enjoying. I was quite surprised recently to discover I was enjoying a Chocolate Balsamic when I always said I don’t like vinegar! I got an impromptu lesson in acid, the powers of reduction, and a command to avoid so called reductions that are really cheap vinegars thickened with sweet syrups.

I remember basic cooking classes, and financial planning games at grade school. Ask our younger generations, and the answer may be, “Is that available on Wii?” So, here’s my mission for our school systems. I believe this is a Mission Possible. I’d like to see basic cooking skills, along with project management skills such as cost estimation, long-range planning, and financial acumen being taught as a pre-requisite for high-school graduation. We don’t need to be chefs, financial planners, or contract negotiators to budget our households and put together a toolkit of culinary basics, but these basic skills will give us a start in life and may even inspire a few careers.

Tutto Mangia!

Jan 25, 2010


Each time I declare I’ve had enough of Facebook, vowing to re-enter the ‘real’ world, someone posts a great snippet of information. Leave it to the folks at the excellent Saveur magazine (http://www.saveur.com)/ to post this update, “Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute declaring 2010 the International Year of the Rutabaga.” I’m sure tongues are firmly planted in cheeks, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a case of, “Rutabaga: you give so much and get so little love in return.”

Rutabagas are not well understood, nor widely eaten, and this is a shame. I admit they look and smell ghastly when raw. In fact, never eat it raw; for you will not pick it up ever again! When cooked, however, Rutabagas endures an alchemical transformation into a delicate color and sweet flavor.

Rutabagas are fall/early winter root vegetables with a very long growing season. As such they are picked only once during the year - in the wintertime. They weather frost well and, like Kale, sweeten up after exposure to frost. Rutabagas store well in cool, dark places, lengthening the availability at market. Since they are not well used outside of commercial food preparation, rutabagas are quite hard to find. Some supermarkets may carry them, but they sit forlorn and overlooked. Best to seek out a discerning specialty food market.


The Rutabaga is actually a hybrid of a turnip and a cabbage. Don’t hold that against it since it tastes like neither. The flavor combination, like any relationship, is complicated - simultaneously sweet and slightly bitter. Since Rutabaga is inexpensive, many chefs use Rutabaga to bulk out recipes: stews, pies, casseroles, or even mash. Rutabaga is a refreshing substitute for the humble potato. Discerning chefs will transform rutabaga into gnocchi, replacing the potato. Rutabaga’s flavor pairs well with gamy meat such as rabbit, or with shellfish – shrimp, or lobster.

Resist the temptation to overcook Rutabaga in an effort to remove the raw smell and bitter taste. You can slightly cook them to soften, as in blanching, or you can slow cook them, as in roasting. When blanched they will need more sweetening. My favorite prep method for rutabaga is to peel, chop into rough cubes, steam and puree. I add a touch of heavy cream and a dash of sweetness such as maple syrup, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup; even apple juice. Mix in a pinch of spice such as cumin, cayenne pepper, or paprika and, “Bon Appetit” – a simple, nutritious soup or thrilling pasta sauce. The heavy cream can be substituted for a thick, non-dairy milk such as coconut milk for a Vegan option. In this case, the soup/sauce mix will need to be reduced somewhat to thicken.

Growing up in the UK we used large Rutabagas as Jack-o-Lanterns for carving at Halloween. Imagine how long it took poor old Dads to carve that tough baby while their offspring moved onto more immediate distractions. Mother made sure Rutabaga, or, “Swede” as we called it, would be on every Sunday roast dinner plate, and we hated it; that pale orange stuff that had better not touch anything else on the plate! As a ‘grown-up’ I’ve learnt to love this vegetable for its earthy sweetness and adaptability to any kind of use You may not have noticed, but enjoy any kind of ‘pasty’ (pastry turnover) in the UK – Cornish, or otherwise, and you’ve enjoyed Rutabaga – it is the sweet, inexpensive ‘filler’ in pasties. You probably thought it was sweet potato, or carrot.

Please try this humblest of vegetables. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It is very cheap to buy, and suits well to just about any recipe you throw it at, just don’t forget to sweeten it. Rutabaga is commonly used in desserts amongst adventurous cooks. See what you can come up with and get back to me! Enjoy 2010: let’s make it a great year for Rutabaga!

Jan 17, 2010


I just made wholewheat shortcrust pastry and pasties with said pastry and frankly I'm stunned! The pastry is light, crumbly, and a little crunchy. For the filling I used some caramelized onions which I cooked down over 24 hours in my crockpot and added steamed organic veggies and a strong cheddar from the store. While I don't think I'd win many awards for appearance, the result is one to be proud of. I listened to my Mother's advice when it comes to pastry and, well as always, Mother knows best!

Next time I roll the edges of the turnover like an old Cornish lady.

Meanwhile Tom, being from Jersey thinks a British pasty could be improved by deep frying like a Panzarotti. Ychafi!

More on pasties later. For now I gotta nap. I'm so overwhelmed at my pastry!


Jan 8, 2010

I've been reading various online posts that discuss the proposed benefits or not of Agave Nectar. Also the marketing of said nectar. I'm not going to link to the posts since, well you know how to Google, don't you Steve? Also, admittedly, I haven't trawled my way through all the research, articles and conflicting viewpoints that have arisen this week.

So, why mention this at all? I have a guilty pleasure when I view online articles. I love to scan the comments. It's like people watching on the boardwalk. Fascinating. Such diversity. One thing disturbed me in the comments on the Agave nectar posting. There was a trend toward bashing 'Natural Food' stores.

Now y'all know (that I'm from The South, right? South Wales that is!) that I don't consider Good For You Market to be a 'Health Food' or a 'Natural Food' store. Does that set us apart from a so called, "Health Food," or "Natural Food" store? No, we carry 'Health Food' or 'Natural Food' products, but above all we focus on good food and great ingredients, be they so called 'Health Food' or a Triple Cream Brie. I love my Quinoa as much as my Triple Cream Brie! Are conventional supermarkets charged with the moniker, "Health Food Store" if they carry products considered to be, "Health Food?" What's the cutoff point with product mix when one switches over to being called a, "Health Food Store?" What constitutes a, "Health Food?" Is a conventional cereal or milk considered a, "Health Food" if it carries a "Heart Healthy" label? Oooh, deep!

At Good For You Market, we do not 'prescribe' when we sell a product. Instead we focus on what is it? Is there any exploitation involved in producing it? Is it sythentically altered (chemicals - pesticides or test tubes)? Does it taste good? How do we use it? Can we get a fair price on it? What do we need to know about it, 'good' or 'bad?' Don't misunderstand the last question. We can't place a value judgement on conflicting information. We can tell you if it tastes good and how to use it! This is the reason I dislike the term, "Health Food." Nutritionally is Broccoli 'healthier' for us than a tablespoon of 'sugar?' Well, starches in vegetables break down to 'sugar.' Now we're all getting a little confused and lost! This is where we give up and pop open that pint of ice cream! How about Broccoli ice cream? Is that better? I'm getting a little Johnathan Swift in my analogy to make a point here. My point is get a second, third, fourth opinion from practioners when it comes to 'health' claims. Look at the mess we're all in over our understanding of fats in our diet. Help!

So, if you're a 'Food Market' why do you carry supplements? I covered this in an article I wrote for Coastal Sussex Weekly from last December. Here's an abbreviated version of it:

http://www.good4uorganic.com/media/mediaCategory/December_2008_Minerals.doc

Basically we take the same approach as with our food sourcing: we do not carry 'test tube' synthetic products. Our products are whole foods based, including our supplements. If periodically we make a mistake, or consistent research has shown something to be dangerous, we drop the product.

So, that out of the way, you know what bothers me about the 'Natural Food' store bashing? It's not that I'm taking any of it personally. I get that the comments come from a general frustration over misleading claims, or perceptions of false marketing. We're all so conflicted - there's information overload in our modern lives and we just don't know what, or whom to believe anymore.

What bothers me is indiscriminate bashing, actually any kind of bashing! Instead seek out businesses that know what they're stocking and selling. Y'all know stocking a product is not the same thing as selling it, right Good For You staff? Mmm hmm... If you're making a claim for a product based on a health related concern, you'd better make sure you know what you're talking about.

Yes, we carry Agave Nectar, and no I'm not going to comment on the articles. I use Agave Nectar in dips and in baking. I use minimally refined sugar equally as much. I love the taste of Agave Nectar. I also like the challenge of figuring out how a recipe works with a liquid sweetener versus a crystallized sweetener.

I think much of our confusion comes from a basic misunderstanding over the application of the words sugar, sweetener, fructose and so on. Food Scientists, Nutrionists, and Dietitians - you're up! In the meantime I'll keep using Agave Nectar with the same philosophy I have for my Triple Cream Brie - moderation not denial. Hopefully we can all apply that to the facts, whatever they may highlight.

It strikes me that there's some other terms that we're all confused over, "Raw," "Refined," and, "Processed." Also, why is Good For You Market named so? For these things we'll have to wait for another column, I've got a Food Market to open!

Jan 4, 2010

G4U Cheese Ads

Check out our new Artisan Cheese ads running locally in DE. We're now upto 40 artisan cheeses and not 25 as mentioned in the ads.

Clip 1: Cheese 101 Class being held at the Good For You Market, January 16, 2010

video


Clip 2: The Power of Yum!

video

Jan 2, 2010

I changed the blog name yet again. Why? I think words matter, they matter a great deal. Language is a great gift and an enormous tool, best used for good and to develop others. After 16 years in the USA, I still get in trouble over verbal and cultural misunderstandings and I hail from a country with (allegedly) the same language.

So, "The Moodie Foodie" - while close, just didn't cut it. For now, the closest I can find is, "Curious and Cooking." Why not Moodie Foodie? Too limiting and just didn't sit right with me - like wearing someone else's shoes. They may look good and be your size, so come close, but they don't feel right and make you walk funny. Life shouldn't be about staying in your comfort zone, but why walk funny, if you don't naturally walk that way?

"Curious and Cooking," sums up where I am and doesn't limit. No need to impress. As my, "About Me" says, I like curious people. They're interesting to be around, they motivate and are full of life. To not be curious is not to live and food is about life! If you're familiar with any of my writing in my "Organic Living" column for the excellent e-zine, Coastal Sussex Weekly, I think it's fair to say I think somewhat laterally. Part of that is cultural - Brits do tend toward the oblique over the direct reference. Part of me just cannot switch off the longstanding Systems Analyst/Designer/Project Management corporate IT training. Some would say being infinitely curious is what makes one good at that. Part of it is that I'm infinitely curious and when my curiousity is spiked, I'm driven to want to know as much as I can about a subject and be as good at it as I can. This lands me in some very diverse destinations. I like to think I learn from each spot I land in. The skills transfer even though the landscape changes. Besides, Foodie just sounds a little prissy to me and I already have more than my fair share of sparkle! No offence to, "Foodies." I just don't want to have to keep defining something I don't really understand myself.


Here's part of my curious family. Mam taught Tom how to make Yorkshire Puddings.



This navel gazing (I mean my belly-button not a variety of orange, did I spell that right?) has me tired and Faithful Spouse is getting ticked off because I've not come up yet.

Andy.

Jan 1, 2010

Happy New Year! Our Bayberry Candle burning New Year's Eve. Burned out just in time for New Year EST!
This morning I woke up convinced it was New Year's Eve and that I had to open the store. I made it to the bathroom before going, "Huh?" So Happy New Year from a bleary eyed retailer who is glad things can settle back to normal. It's a long crazy ride from Thanksgiving to December 31.

Tom's New Year outfit. Skipped the crowds in downtown Rehoboth and stayed home. Tom made Crab Imperial and we drank heavily to get over the shock of how much we paid for the Maryland Crab. No we did not get it at Good For You Market! I'm looking into it though. It was yummy for the tummy, but not much money left for my honey afterwards!

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