After Dark: Connected Cheese was an evening event recently held at the NY Hall of Science. It consisted of an approximate 45-minute presentation by Krista Jacobsen, followed by a cheese-eating reception in the Great Hall. Jacobsen is the Caves Assistant Manager at Murray’s Cheese who has an especially fond concern for the way animals – “critters” as she calls them: cow, sheep, and goat – are treated and fed, which leads to better milk product yields, and thus a better cheese.

The science is astounding. And I’m just talking about the ‘pure science,’ not even the ‘tasting science’ or other factors that go into cheese-making. I heard more binomial nomenclatures this one evening than I have in a long long time! Jacobsen discussed everything from bacteria to molecular chains and peptide bonds, the different types of rennet used, and of course pH.

And the process – or ‘art’ – of cheese-making is also astounding, very complex, and also somewhat romantic. So many factors go into making a cheese that the package – a block of cheddar nicely shrink-wrapped – doesn’t show, from the washing and milling and flipping of cheeses, to even the pressing and packaging of a cheese:


Perhaps the most fascinating slide to me was this genealogical chart; it is limited in what it shows but you get a basic idea of the relationship/s between cheeses, and their family branches:


Here are just a few of the slides Jacobsen showed:






After the lecture the eating commenced! I managed to not take a single photo, as I was busy shoveling some really delicious cheeses into my mouth. Four NYC-area cheese-makers were present, including Murray’s, but frankly Eastern District took the prize, with some really great sides to accompany their cheeses.

The event was very timely too, as I recently bought all of the supplies needed to home-make mozzarella cheese, and will be taking up that task soon. It’s easier than you think, but it all goes back to your original milk source – that’s the challenge really!