Meet Your Monger: Carol Johnson of Monger's Palate

The May edition of Meet Your Monger spotlights Carol Johnson, owner of Monger's Palate in Brooklyn, NY.  Carol Johnson has owned and operated Monger's Palate, a cut to order cheese shop, since 2019, and the shop is known for an impressive rotation of cheeses kept in impeccable condition by Carol and her team. She has worked every job in the food industry from ship cook to hotel buffet roast slicer but has specialized in cheese for the last eleven years. She is an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional, former assistant manager of Murray's Cheese, Cheesemonger Invitational Finalist, and often teaches on cheese when not running the shop. Carol also chooses Formaticum products for Monger's Palate - read our interview to find out why!


What inspired you to become a cheesemonger? 
I came to NYC unexpectedly with no money and no plans but trying to get out of the kitchen lifestyle. The first job I got was as a cheesemonger and I completely fell in love.  
How do you use Formaticum products at your counter?
We wrap all the cheese we sell to customers in the One-Ply Roll, as it makes a neat fold and keeps everything fresh. 
What is your favorite Formaticum product and why?
Definitely the One-Ply Roll, but we also sell the retail Cheese Storage Bags and I use them at home for all those cheesemonger odds and ends. 
If you were a cheese, which one would you be and why?
I'd be one of those little Loire Valley chèvres like Crottin that's been aging for months, grey and unassuming but then super peppery and sharp on the palate. 
What is one thing you wish consumers knew about artisan cheese?
Mold is good! There is an uphill battle with getting to an understanding of how it's natural to have surface molds as part of a healthy rind. The perception that "mold = spoiled" needs to be replaced with the idea that not everything has to have a sanitized appearance in order to be safe and delicious. 
What is your favorite cheese storage fact?
Cheese lasts a long time. Cheese is a preservation technique, and if it is properly wrapped and stored you can eat it for weeks!


Follow Monger's Palate on Instagram @mongerspalate and Formaticum on Instagram and TikTok @formaticum, and stop by the cheese shop if you're in NYC!

To nominate a shop or monger for the Meet Your Monger series, email

In Defense of Orange Cheese

When discussing "American cheese," many so-called cheese aficionados turn their nose up at the concept, citing the assumed orange color as an indicator of low quality. But not all American cheeses are artificially colored orange, and the color itself is not inherently connected to the quality of the cheese or even exclusive to cheese made in the United States. Cheeses like French Mimolette and English Red Leicester famously boast the orange hue, and have been for years prior to the popularization of cheesemaking in America. So what exactly gives orange cheese its striking color, and how did the tradition start? May is American Cheese Month, so it seems like the perfect time to learn the true history of this long-standing cheesemaking technique. 

The orange color is a natural pigment derived from annatto seed, which comes from the achiote tree that is indigenous to South America, Asia, and Africa. The pigment is generally added to milk during cheesemaking, and does not impart any flavor onto the final cheese. But not all cheeses that appear to be colored are treated with annatto - for example, a rich yellow paste may denote a cheese made with grass-fed milk rich in betacarotene, the pigment that makes carrots orange. Some deep yellow cheeses may even be colored with saffron, a tradition that is popular in southern Italy. Some orange cheeses you may be familiar with include aged Gouda, Double Gloucester, Cheshire, Cheddar, and even Colby, a Wisconsin original. 

The history of coloring cheese dates back to 16th century England. Annatto was historically used to make British cheeses stand out at the market, as the vivid orange color called to mind the rich yellow color of the presumed higher quality cheeses made with the milk of pastured cows. It was also used to create consistency in cheese across the seasons - because cows can graze on fresh grass during the summer, their milk made deeper yellow-colored cheese. Cheesemakers would add annatto to their milk during winter to adjust the paler color of milk produced by cows grazing on hay during the winter, which does not contain betacarotene. Today, it is a stylistic choice, sometimes used by cheesemakers to help preserve traditional British territorial cheese recipes like Red Leicester, farmhouse Cheshire, or blue Shropshire

Cheeses colored orange with annatto are also not the same as softer, stinkier cheeses with orange rinds like Taleggio or Epoisses - this pungent pigmentation is a result of the activity of the microbe brevibacterium linens on the rind. And to complicate things even more, some cheeses like Langres and Brebirousse are annatto-ripened, meaning annatto is used to color the rind to make it appear washed.

At Formaticum, we believe that every cheese has unique needs, and deserves to be treated with a level of respect and attention to detail that mirrors the care that the farmers, cheesemakers, and affineurs put into producing the cheese. Formaticum offers a comprehensive range of tools and storage products that ensure your cheese is served and stored properly, so that you and your guests can experience the flavor at its most authentic. So, use this handy guide the next time you want to showcase orange cheese (or any cheese!) on a board or plate. 

- Soft cheeses like Langres or Brebirousse should be cut with a Professional Soft Cheese Knife, as the hollow blade will prevent the knife from sticking to the cheese, ensuring a clean cut every time. Soft-ripened or bloomy-rinded cheeses should be wrapped in our plant-based Cellophane Sheets, which are more porous than our other wrapping materials, allowing these delicate rinds to get the oxygen they need to thrive. Washed-rind cheeses like Taleggio should be wrapped in plastic-free and compostable Formaticum Zero Sheets, which are greaseproof to better contain a slicker, smellier rind. 

- Harder cheeses like Mimolette, Cheddar, or Red Leicester should be cut with our sturdy Professional Cheese Knife - the long blade and specially-designed handle make it ideal for cutting those hard-to-handle denser cheeses. Wrap any leftover pieces of these cheeses in our Classic Cheese Storage Sheets or Bags to maintain the right level of humidity and keep them fresher longer than parchment paper or plastic wrap. 

- Blue cheeses like Shropshire should be cut using our Professional Blue Cheese Knife, which was designed with a blade thin enough to make clean cuts through an otherwise crumbly cheese without disturbing the paste. Wrap blue cheeses in our Reusable Cheese Storage Sheets, which are sturdy enough to be leakproof, but won't give your cheese the blues by suffocating it. 

Browse our entire collection of cheese storage products and tools on our website, and don't forget to give orange cheese a chance!  

 Do you still have questions? Email us at!

A Brief History of American Cheese

When you hear the words "American cheese," the first thing that likely comes to mind is a bright orange plastic-wrapped square. And while they might be the most well-known iteration, they're only a small slice (pun intended) of American cheese history. The United States is a melting pot (perhaps even a fondue) of different cultures (another pun, also intended) and each group of immigrants that arrived brought with them their own cheesemaking knowledge and traditions. And although these recipes have European origins, generations of American cheesemakers have adjusted and tweaked them to be their own.

Perhaps the most established example  is Cheddar, the recipe for which was brought by British immigrants in the 1700s and continued to develop its American identity until it became the first cheese produced in an industrial cheese factory and put all but a few artisan cheddar producers out of business. Small farmstead producers could not match the scale and price at which cheese could be made in large factories, and many operations could no longer sustain themselves. By the 1980s, a group of goat farmers affectionately known as the "Goat Ladies of the 80s" had decided it was time to revive the American cheese movement, and began to fight for artisan cheese's place at (or in this case, on) the table.

As a result of their efforts and the continued dedication of many dairy farmers and cheesemakers, American cheese is now thriving - makers all over the United States are producing world-class award-winning cheese, both influenced by European classics and from their own completely original recipes. This reinterpretation of established recipes with a fresh terroir has helped create some new icons, destined to become household names if they aren't already. Additionally, consumers' desire for more food transparency and sustainability has reinvigorated many smaller cheesemaking operations - in today's economic conditions, a high quality product usually comes with a higher price tag, and eco-conscious cheese lovers understand the importance and value of informed and responsible consumerism.  And while pasteurized process cheese food (aka the aforementioned slices) certainly has a place in that story, there are so many more pages to be written. 

So if you're interested in tasting through some historic American cheese moments, keep reading! We've put together a list of some iconic American cheeses and their European counterparts that provided the inspiration, as well as a list of some true American originals.

And just as domestic cheesemakers have spent years nurturing, preserving, and reimagining historic cheese recipes in the face of industrialization, we encourage you to use Formaticum Cheese Storage Bags & Sheets to help preserve your new discoveries and taste the flavor as the cheesemakers intended. 

Beaufort - Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese (WI)
Goat Crottin - Bijou from Vermont Creamery (VT)
Chabichou - Shabby Shoe from Blakesville Creamery (WI)
Valençay - Bonaparte from Lazy Lady Farm (VT), Sofia from Capriole Farm (IN)
Abondance - Tarentaise from Spring Brook Farm (VT)
Vacherin Mont d'Or - Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese (WI), Winnimere from Jasper Hill Farm (VT)
Aged Gouda - St. Malachi from The Farm at Doe Run (PA), Sneek Gouda from Frisian Farms (IA), Marieke Gouda Reserve from Penterman Farm (WI), Aged Gouda from Jake's Gouda (NY)
Taleggio - Crema Alpina from High Lawn Farm, Grayson from Meadow Creek Dairy (VA), Hooligan from Cato Corner Farm (CT)
Camembert - Camembrie from Blue Ledge Farm (VT), Nancy's Camembert from Old Chatham Creamery (NY)
Ossau Iraty - Anabasque from Landmark Creamery (WI), Verano from Vermont Shepherd (VT)
Robiola - Melinda Mae from Mystic Cheese (CT)
Caerphilly - Carefully from Parish Hill Creamery (VT)
Gruyère - Alpha Tolman from Jasper Hill Farm (VT)
Emmentaler - Holey Cow from Central Coast Creamery (CA), Crybaby from Arethusa Farm (CT)
Stilton - Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill Farm (VT), Mad River Blue from Von Trapp Farmstead
Caciocavallo - Suffolk Punch from Parish Hill Creamery (VT)
Morbier - Ashbrook from Spring Brook Farm (VT), Coppinger from Sequatchie Cove Creamery (TN), Smorbier from High Lawn Farm
Queso Oaxaca - Queso Oaxaca from Don Froylan Creamery
Gorgonzola - West West Blue from Parish Hill Creamery
English Clothbound Cheddar - Bleu Mont Cheddar from Bleu Mont Dairy (WI), Shelburne Clothbound from Shelburne Farms (VT), Grafton Clothbound Cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese (VT), Cabot Clothbound Cheddar from Jasper Hill Farm (VT)
Raclette - Reading Raclette from Springbrook Farm (VT), Mount Raclette from Alpinage Cheese (WI)
Selles-sur-Chere - Bonne Bouche from Vermont Creamery (VT), Linedeline from Blakesville Creamery (WI)
Brie - Moses Sleeper from Jasper Hill Farm (VT), Mt. Alice from Von Trapp Farmstead (VT), Raw Milk Brie from Brush Creek Creamery (ID), Noble Road from Calkins Creamery (VT)
Brillat-Savarin - St. Stephen from Four Fat Fowl (NY), Kunik from Nettle Meadow Farm (NY), Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery (CA)
Tomme de Savoie - Swallowtail Tomme from Stony Pond Farm (VT)
Parmigiano Reggiano - Big Sky Grana from Bleu Mont Dairy (WI)
Banon - O'Banon from Capriole Farm (IN), Holiday Cheer from Blakesville Creamery (WI), Pecuri in I Vigne from Blakesville Creamery (WI)
Jibneh - Jibneh from Kasbo's Market (NJ) is a unique cheese inspired by cheesemaker Benita's childhood love of Syrian cheese. "Jibneh" means cheese in Arabic and this cheese is described as a cross between mozzarella, feta, and halloumi, but it is flavored with mahleb (a Middle Eastern Spice made from ground cherry stones) and has a wonderful personality all its own.

And if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can ask your cheesemonger for the following American originals, made with unique recipes created entirely by American cheesemakers. 

Cornerstone - perhaps the truest example of an American original, the Cornerstone Project seeks to highlight the nature of raw milk and its expression of terroir. Made by 3 separate cheesemakers, Cornerstone uses grass-fed raw milk, autochthonous cultures, local salt, and a natural aging process to showcase the unique flavors of the micro-environment from which it was born. Each cheesemaker uses their own versions of the aforementioned ingredients and resources, following the same recipe, and the results are vastly different - a true expression of the cheese's terroir. 
Dunbarton Blue and Red Rock from Roelli Cheese Haus (WI) - unique blue cheeses with milder, more isolated blue mold due to pressing, a process not usually done to blue cheese - because p. roqueforti is activated by oxygen, blue cheeses are not usually pressed, in order to allow the mold to grow in the nooks and crannies between the curds, creating the signature blue veining. 
Colby - a cousin of classic Wisconsin Cheddar made by stirring and washing the curds instead of stacking them, which creates a milder flavor. 
Monterey Jack - while there are now several version of jack cheese on the market with different origin stories, this version was invented in the 1700s by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in CA, and later stolen and popularized by shrewd businessman David Jack when he purchased the land the mission was founded on. 
Brick Cheese from Widmer's Cheese (WI) - invented by a Swiss-born cheesemaker in the late 1800s, this is a washed-rind cheese inspired by Limburger that gets its name from the signature shape, but also from the process of using bricks to press the cheese during aging.  

Do you have a favorite American cheese that isn't mentioned here? Email us at to let us know! 

The Seasonality of Goat Cheese

The arrival of spring is marked by warmer weather, longer days, and seasonal produce like artichokes, fava beans, and ramps. But for cheese lovers, spring means one very important thing: goat cheese season. Fresh and aged chèvres start popping up in cheese cases everywhere, adorned with colorful flower petals and herbs, wrapped in leaves, and even coated with a striking black layer of ash. The bright, lemony, and sometimes nutty or yeasty flavors of chèvre are the perfect way to announce the beginning of the season of renewal. 

But what is goat cheese "season," and why is it significant? First, the term "chèvre" meaning goat cheese in French, does not refer only to stark white logs of fresh chèvre - it encompasses all cheeses made with goat's milk, across all ages and textures, and there are quite a few of them! French writer Charles de Gaulle once asked, "How can you govern a country with 246 varieties of cheese?" but the real number these days is closer to 1200…and that's just in France. 

Second, cheese is a seasonal product because milk is a seasonal product. A ruminant animal must be pregnant to produce milk, and the lactation cycles of goats, sheep, and cows are all different. A goat's lactation cycle is around 300 days, and the milk composition will vary during the cycle (milk is composed mainly of water but also of protein, fat, sugar, and minerals). After "kidding" (when goats give birth), which traditionally happens in the spring, their milk is rich with extra fat and therefore creates particularly luscious and flavorful cheese. This is not to say that goat's milk cheese is not available year round, but rather that spring is the best time to taste goat cheese at its best. 

We also have to consider the change in weather and climate and how that affects the milk. During the spring and summer when goats are able to "browse" (the goat-specific term for grazing), they will usually have access to aromatic grasses, herbs, and other flora that lend a complex and bright flavor to their milk that would not be present otherwise. Therefore, fresh and gently aged goat cheeses are more celebrated in the spring and early summer because of their exquisite flavor! 

So what should you look for at your local cheese shop or counter? Seek out a local fresh chèvre, which will be soft, sweet and spreadable. You can also keep an eye out for geotrichum-rinded goat cheeses like Chabichou or Mothais Sur Feuille, which will be tangy and nutty. An ash-ripened chèvre like Ovalie Cendrée, Valençay, or Couronne de Fontenay will have a delightfully bright and lemony flavor and silky texture. And of course, you simply cannot forget about iconic American goat cheeses from farms like Capriole, Lazy Lady Farm, and Blakesville Creamery - for which we have the Goat Ladies of the 80s to thank! All American cheeses would not be what they are today without the hard work and passion of these visionary women. 

Once you've gotten your chèvre home, how should you store it? The delicate rinds of an aged chèvre require more oxygen to thrive, so you should avoid plastic wrap or bags, which will suffocate that little button of delight. Our plant-based Cellophane Sheets are more porous than our other materials and specially made for soft-ripened cheeses, allowing them to breathe and thrive. Fresh goat cheese demands a bit more structure, and our Reusable Sheets are sturdy enough to protect the softer curd and prevent moisture from leaking through the paper. 

We also recommend using the Formaticum Wire Cutter or Professional Soft Cheese Knife to portion and serve these cheeses, to prevent the delicate paste from crumbling or being crushed by a large blade.

Do you have a favorite chèvre or storage technique you would like to share? Email us at or tag us on Instagram @formaticum!

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Meet Your Monger: Carol Johnson of Monger's Palate

In Defense of Orange Cheese

A Brief History of American Cheese

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