Tia Keenan Talks About How She Became The Queen Of Cheese
Tia Keenan like any great Queen has a multitude of titles including Published Author, Wall Street Journal Contributor, Fromager, Restauranteur, Consultant, Mother, and many more.
In 2001 after leaving her career in publishing, she began working as a server at Tribeca Grill. It was(and still is) an incredibly hot and successful restaurant owned by Robert DeNiro and NYC Hospitality Titan Drew Nieporent. All servers were expected to know the ins and outs of the cheese cart, but none of the staff knew it the way Tia did. Tia started working at Fleur de Sel at began ordering from Murray’s Cheese. She took her knowledge with her to other restaurants in NYC until she became the Opening Chef Fromager at The Modern, Danny Meyer’s Fine Dining restaurant inside the Museum of Modern Art.
Tia had dreams bigger than working for Danny and opened up her own cheese-centric restaurant Cassellula on 52nd between 9th and 10th. She eventually moved on to consulting and helping restauranteurs open up their own restaurants including Murray’s Cheese with their Cheese Bar concept. After having a child she took a step back from restaurants and began her career as a writer. She wrote The Art of The Cheese Plate, Chevre(Short Stack), and Melt, Stretch, and Sizzle: The Art of Cooking Cheese
The Art of The Cheese Plate with Tia Keenan
Tom and I both feel like we have strong knowledge of Charcuterie and Cheese. We’ve done a video in the past, and have talked about our love for all things cured and aged. That being said, when you have the chance to talk to someone who is an actual expert, you will always learn things if you ask the right questions, so we asked Tia if you’re hosting a party for 10 regular people what will your cheese plate look like.
3 to 5 Kinds of cheese
If Cheese will be the appetizer 1 to 1.5 ounces per person
If Cheese will be the main course than 2 to 2.5 ounces per person
If your guests are more of a Gouda and Pepperjack crowd, you can do something nice and get an Artisinal Gouda, but you don’t need to get an over the top cheese.
The goal of the cheese board is for it to be completely finished by the end of the night
Fresh Cheese: Like Mozzarella, Bocconcini or Buratta
Bloomy Rind Cheese: Something like Camembert, Brie, Brillat Savarin
Goat Milk, Cow Milk, Sheep Milk: Maybe something hard and sharp here
A Stinky Washed Rind Cheese: Limburger, Winnimere, Something over the top
A Blue Cheese: Mild to Extreme Blue
This is a good time to remember that some will be more popular than others so maybe you get 1 ounce of that washed rind cheese and 2 ounces of a nice Gouda
This is where you can go wild with different flavors and textures really. Different flavored popcorn, pickled vegetables, jams, marshmallows. Everything is fair game for cheese pairings.
Putting together Cheese Plates are supposed to be fun and not feel like homework so at the end of the day don’t stress out and trust your gut and your local cheesemonger 🙂
All About English Cheddar with Tia Keenan
Tia just got back from a Cheese Tourism trip throughout the UK called “The Cheddar Odyssey” She tells us about her trip and explains what makes Cheddar, Cheddar.
Cheesemaking 101: You coagulate the milk with rennet and a starter culture. This separates the curds from the whey. The whey is essentially the water of the milk. You add the salt and press the curds into a mold and cook it. This is the 101 of how to make cheese
Cheddaring: To make Cheddar you press and layer the curds and you essentially make a slab of it. It looks like cheese-shale. You cut the shale into curds, heavy salt it, and then press those curds into a mold which is lined with a muslin cloth. You wash that cheese with lard and then let it age.
Tia also brought a Smoked Cheddar Cheese from Westcombe. It was smokey and rich and you could smell it from a mile away. I didn’t think it could get any better but than Tia told us it wasn’t available in the US, so obviously it became even more delicious
What Are We Drinking:
Tia Keenan: Dolin Blanc Vermouth with Soda and a Lemon Twist
Mike: Wolfer Rose Dry Cider
Tom: Gin Gimlet(2.5 oz of New Amsterdam Gin .5 Fresh Lime Juice)