Yesterday, the New York Times published a feature on affinage, the practice of properly aging cheeses until they hit that perfect moment for eating. The article profiled several East Coast cheesemongers who practice affinage, most notably Murray's Cheese Shop in Manhattan, which has a master affineur who turns, washes, and sprays wheels of cheese in the shop's network of “caves.”
The article had SFoodie scheming ways we could convert the laundry room in our basement into a place for aging cheeses. We called Gordon Edgar, head cheese guy for Rainbow Grocery, to see whether the Bay Area had any master affineurs. The moment we mentioned the word “affinage” to Edgar, the author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge, he started laughing, then called the practice a word he quickly retracted in favor of a more nuanced explanation.
“I think that there are certain ways that you can affinage cheese that will improve the cheese,” Edgar said, “but those are few and far between. Most people who talk about their affinage are just marketing.”