May 27, 2012

The Good Stuff.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Avalanche cheeses.  
Most notably the pillowy fluff of their fresh Chevre.  Since I'm pining for the return of The Guy (he's doing business type things out of state) I decided to cope by buying myself some fancy-type cheese.  But what's a lady to do when a plain log of Chev isn't enough?  Naturally she scrounges in her refrigerator (in the back and slightly above the crisper) and produces magic. 
That's what.
To elaborate this Chevre is rolled in paprika and chopped fire roasted tomatoes w/olive oil, garlic, and herbs.  A tiny salad of spicy/bitter greens adds a zing of contrast.  Of course my security blanket of a cheese platform, cracked pepper water crackers, balances it all out.  
I do suspect 7 out of 10 times I take cheese anywhere, that cracker comes with me.  
This time it had the pleasure of delivering that fine, fine Chev concoction to my face.  
Which, naturally, soothed my pining.  
Still, a log of cheese is a poor substitute for a Fiance. 

May 14, 2012

Picnic Food.

Monday Afternoon Pizza
365 Whole Foods Market Garlic Naan Crust, San Danielle Prosciutto, Crave Bros. Fresh Mozzarella (ciligene size), Mitica Capricho de Cabra w/Black Pepper, Divina Fire Roasted Tomatoes in Oil w/Garlic & Herbs, 365 Whole Foods Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
(plus freshly cracked salt and pepper)

This is what I made after bemoaning how I wasn't motivated to make lunch for myself.  I agree with what a friend told me recently.  I always seem to be more motivated to cook if it involves cooking for other people.  Recently my lunch consists of anything that can be easily scooped onto saltines or is already in tupperware.

So, yeah, motivation.  Evidently I have it.

May 10, 2012

An Education in Cheese.

    "How did you learn so much about cheese?"  I get asked this question quite regularly by customers (and occasionally by friends who have somehow managed to escape my long winded hyperbole).  Inevitably I forget  myself and start getting dewy eyed over a piece of Quadrello di Bufala in front of a patient customer.  I'll start talking about the farm in Lombardy it came from and the delicate pudgy paste underneath the mottled crusty rind...and they'll look at me in wonder like I'm perhaps a bit cracked.  Yet that a fore mentioned question keeps popping up. Natch.

    Hence I think it's time that I address it a bit more fully.  It's a rather long saga spanning the last 5 1/2 years (i promise to be concise-ish).  Even including what I call my "Gap Year" where I worked for a thriving dance studio as the Office Girl.  During that time I was still involved with cheese.  Really it was that year where I truly came to understand my deep love/obsession for The Curd.  Separation makes the heart grow fonder...or something like that (it's not like i'm going to stand underneath a balcony pining for a chunk of farmhouse Cheddar...or anything). Hopefully you will be able to use some of what I did to learn about cheese to kick-start your own education. 

    My education in cheese truly began on the job with the first Cheesemonger I really trained under.  I was very fortunate to have such a great teacher for my blossoming interest in cheese.  She, too, was obsessed with the stuff and knew gobs of esoteric trivia about every piece of cheese in our cases.  Listening to her and others who knew quite a bit about cheese was my first step in learning.  For about the first 6 months I would just parrot back what I had picked up.  That is until I was able to eat, read about, and form my own opinions.

Murray's Cheese Handbook & 3 mo. raw milk Manchego
    Which leads me to my next points.  Reading.  Murray's Cheese Handbook and The Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins are two of the best resources on the subject.  I absolutely am that nerd who reads about cheese in her free time.  It has really helped expand what I know about my profession.  From the proper care and keeping of every conceivable style of cheese to what molds are in those smelly washed rinds.  Through reading I get to know the opinions of  other, more accomplished (i.e. published authors), Cheesemongers out there.  Reading their opinions helps me gain perspective.  It can educate me on aspects of individual cheeses that I hadn't even contemplated yet.

    However, my favorite part of learning about cheese has, hands down, been consuming huge quantities of the stuff.  So you want to learn about cheese?  Eat.  Eat lots.  Eat as many different kinds as you can get your hands on.  Then write about what you ate and everything you experienced in eating it.  What did you taste?  How did it feel on your tongue? Against the roof of your mouth? What did you smell?  What was the texture in hand?  What did it look like when you cut into it?  On and on.  You get the idea.  It doesn't have to be fancy writing or in "foodie speak."  This last lesson has been more important to me than either teachers or reading.  It allows for the free flowing of my own personal biases for or against any particular cheese.  And there's nothing* I love more than giving my unfiltered opinions about The Curd.

*okay okay so I love prairie dogs and my Hubs-to-be more...but just barely...

May 08, 2012

Mozzarella. Bar.

Handmade Fior di Latte.  c/o
That's right, you heard me. Mozzarella. Bar. Whoa.  Thanks to a sudden inability to spell the word mozzarella (as i was preparing for a totally different entry regarding the same cheese) I blithely typed the first few letters into my Google search bar, also known as my personal spell check.  The fourth option Google listed for mozzarella was "Mozzarella Bar Boulder".  I may have blacked out for a half a second out of sheer joy.  The world seems so complete now.  A world where the soft, milky, briny, creamy lactose packed fresh curd perfection known as mozzarella never stops coming.  Where I can belly up to a bar and stuff myself with Fior di Latte until tears of happiness blur my vision.  Currently I am devising a way to beat the Mothers Day crowds and go to this font of dairy wonder*.

*Don't fret Osteria Marco! I will only cheat on your house made burrata a teensy bit.  I'll always come back to you...

May 07, 2012

Neal's Yard Dairy

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a class about one  of our cheese providers, Neal's Yard Dairy(NYD).  Being able to hear first hand all about the cheese they offer made me a little giddy. That's right. Giddy.  I had flashbacks to the thrill of the Herve Mons class from several years ago.  I had the urge to jump up and find a way to work hands on with cheese everyday.  Oh wait. I already do that! Excellent...
Purveyors or Pushers...hmmm

Neal's Yard is not actually a cheese making company.  Well, not any more.  They essentially take British farmhouse cheese makers under their wing in order to encourage traditional cheese making.  From there NYD promotes and sells the cheeses across the world.  Thus helping to preserve some amazing regional curd from around the British Isles.
Leah Lewis, U.S. export sales, and James Rutter, export and wholesale sales, ran us through a tasting of three diverse and extraordinary NYD offerings.  All together we had Appleby's Cheshire, Quicke's Cheddar (made by the apparently delightful Mary Quicke and her brood), and the shining star of the whole deal the Borough Market Stilton Blue.
I am going to frame my map of British Cheeses

They were all stunning in  flavor though the Stilton Blue jumped out at me the strongest.  Light and creamy on the tongue but packing a wallop of black pepper, sweet cream and delightful bluey-ness.  I cannot wait to pick up yet another hunk of this fine fine cheese to eat as is.   Perhaps I may even dress it up with a little wildflower honey.  You know, just to be fancy.
This is James Rutter.  He led us on our magical cheese tour. c/o Neal's Yard Dairy