Friday, October 19, 2007

Say, Fromage!

TC is passionate about cheese. My life's goal is to make her happy. I may stumble towards this goal, but there you go. At least I can buy her cheese for her visit Sunday.

I grew up poor, only occasionally eating Kraft Singles (we bought generic). I wasn't big on cheese for most of my life, despite the French-influence on other parts of my meals. So I had a pretty boring palate for cheese for mst of my life. I remember my college boyfriend (FLOML) introducing me to Vermont cheddar, a cheese I usually don't like. I still don't generally like cheddar, and since 2001 have refused to touch Vermont cheddar--but I often get Canadian Cheddar, which I much like--those Canadians are so inoffensive, they can do no wrong. And they make a pleasantly creamy-but-sharp white cheddar.

Still, one must break out of the cheddar/mozzarella/provolone box. Cheese is not just for slicing up into turkey sandwiches. We do not eat processed cheese foods past a certain level of palate development, so no to American/Canadian Singles (seriously, in Canada, that's what they call them...).

So in an effort to go beyond cheddar and other "sandwich cheeses," I've been going to the neighborhood cheese co-op. Yes, you heard me. Liberal College City is full of co-ops for everything: living, grocery-shopping, bakery-ing, cheese-shopping.

The nice thing about a proper cheese shop is that you can ask for little slices to try, rather than be limited to buying pre-cut wedges from the gourmet grocery stores. That can get expensive (cough, Whole Foods, cough), and if you don't like it--sucks to be you. And because of that, it's a little more difficult to be adventurous and try new cheeses. I have a grad student budget. I like buying wedges under $10, $5 if possible--and yes, I still want to try nice cheeses.

Which is why the cheese co-op is awesome. Far better than Mr. Wensleydale's. And far better than pre-cut, wrapped cheeses from the foodie grocery store.

I plan to arrange the following decoraively in a platter of figs, slices of Bosc pear and Fuji apple (grapes didn't look good), toasted walnuts drizzled with honey, and slices of baguette (or simple crackers):

-Istara: French/Pyrrennes Sheep's Milk Cheese: mild, creamy, flavorful with a tangy finish.

-Piave: Italian Cow's Milk Cheese, a good parmesan with an almost fruity, citrusy finish.

-Sotto Cenere: Italian Cow's Milk Cheese with Truffles, rich and creamy and truffly, slight smokiness.

-Rocchetta: Italian Sheep/Goat/Cow's Milk, like La Tour, so pleasingly sharp, but soft and spreadable. Almost a little bluesy.

-Epoisses: French Cow's Milk, also soft, with sharp bite and smooth finish.