Confession: I Just Might Be Disgusting
Saturday, 26 February 2011
Desperate times call for desperate measures, one of the few clichés I can actually tolerate, applies tonight. And I do mean desperate. It has been a completely manic week at the farm, with Spring showing up early and agriturismo guests following the season. Needless to say, tonight is una Notte di Blockbuster, accompanied by a local syrah (purchased Monday by my friend Teri Love of Gioia Wines in Santa Barbara, but sadly left behind for ME!) and some cheeses I bought this week and (gasp!) haven’t found the opportunity to open slowly, bleeding out the process of pairing and sampling at a snail’s pace. Anything less deliberate is a wasted opportunity fraught with the tastelessness of simply snacking and the oblivion of a half-cocked palate, and was thus omitted from this past week’s agenda.
There was nothing I wanted more tonight than to invade the restaurant’s leftover cheeses and throw in what I bought from Paolo down the hill, open a nice robust wine, and relax in front of a much-needed American DVD, a perfect night laid out for a weatherworn Lauren after a grating week. But then tragedy struck. I opened the gorgeous brown paper wrapping from the local cheese-God only to find a fine furry mess that would have turned even Pasteur off. My beautiful mini-round of soft pecorino had reached its peak, and was now on the decline, neglected for several days and whose pristine freshness and handling had been taken for granted. Ditto on the seasoned aged ricotta, the outer mantle of which had become as hard as its embedded peppercorns. Such a shame, especially after the tantalizing slivers that were shaved off for Teri and I at the farmer’s specialty shop, and a bloody waste of beautiful preservative-free artisan gems I will rarely encounter after returning to the States, if ever at all. Obviously, I had sinned, and I was bummed. I mean, if you’re going to commit a sinful act, should it not feel delectably devilish, too good to pass up, and worth paying for it later, instead of wasteful and just plain bad?
Now it was time to face the music, to pay in spades for the sin of such utter disregard. But since I am not Catholic and have been otherwise indoctrinated with family converted-to-Judaism guilt, I had my own reckoning that was far worse than any confessional could ever render: the issue of health and food safety. Point blank, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that this gorgeous cheese would be seen chucked into the giant bin, floating amongst yesterday’s discarded potato skins and assorted newborn pampers to its end wherever Italian rubbish is left to die. No way, man. So I started cutting fur parts off, all the while resisting the inhale of a nasty-smelling creamy gorgonzola on the counter just begging to be resurrected along with the treasure beneath the baseball sheath that was once a gorgeous seasoned aged ricotta, also stinking slightly while dangling a few last breaths of hope before me on the counter. I basically abandoned all sensitivity to the “ick factor” and sliced away everything that seemed un-kosher, leaving a significantly lower volume of cheese than I had bargained for, as well as a green furry dusting inside the once-gorgeous brown paper wrap. Honestly, I didn’t care. Once the bad bits were trimmed and discarded, out of sight became out of mind, and the cheese was reborn. With the syrah and a few various cracker types, a complete meal was devoured as if no sin had been committed in the making of this delectable meal.
I figured at the very least, maybe some of the residual mold might finally usher out this nightmare of a cold I’ve been carrying for nearly a month now, a really boring little damper on my stay. Or, if worse could possibly have come to worse, would I die for cheese? I won’t answer that. The bottom line is that I gorged myself on trimmed rotten cheese and it was, to be perfectly honest, flawless, a tablet-of-green-fuzz-come-delicacy. Am I disgusting, addicted, desperate, or just plain dedicated? You be the judge.