My sweetie pie is a devotee of podcasts, and pointed me towards this tale from The Moth Radio Hour.
Julie Kraut tells of her time in Africa, an unfortunate traveling companion, and what happened when a piece of cheese came between them.
"You know how some people feel about God? I feel that way about cheese."
You can download it via iTunes (it's free)
It's the second story, starting at 7:00. Salty language alert.
As you may remember, several weeks ago I posted a whole wheat goat-cheese and peach pizza, proof that I'd acclimatized to Northern California.
Lauren spotted this innovation and struck back, challenging me to a Cali-cuisine duel and throwing down the gauntlet with a salad. It was a nice attempt, with backyard greens and spearmint, plus grapes, apples and dill havarti. But was it California? Sure, there were home-grown Napa grapes, but the DOP chestnut honey was the tip: Lauren's heart still lingers in Italy.
Her salad looks tasty, but it doesn't really answer the ultimate question: What Would Alice Waters Do?
Oyster mushroom ceviche, that's what. It's local, it's fusion (Bay Area hippie-veggie with Central Valley migrant-Mexican), it's completely bonkers, and it's delicious.
After only six months of living here, I am now a Californian. The evidence? Whole-wheat peach pizza with goat cheese, sage and red onion. That's right, I said peaches. The Scientist (aka Minda "no sauce" Berbeco) whipped up another batch of dough last night, and suggested we use a few of the fruits we'd picked up at Davis CA's infamous farmer's market.
It sure was one of the prettiest pizzas we've ever made. The uncooked pie (pictured) was cute enough to hang over the couch. And when we pulled it out, the cheese and herbs melded perfectly with the sweet peaches and onions, furthering my conviction that everything goes with just about everything. Which, I suppose, is a very California attitude.
In LA this week, at the International Dairy, Deli & Bakery's annual convention, which draws doughnut-makers, mustard mongers, and, of course, cheese professionals from across the country and the world. This is a major industry-oriented event, so I was occupied mostly with the entirely humdrum and uninteresting chores the magazine demanded of me, like tasting Rouge et Noir's unreleased triple-cream brie with truffles:
And stalking poodle-skirted cheese-carver extraordinaire Sarah Kaufmann—note the earrings:
Just wanted to mark the start of summer with my traditional exhortation: grill haloumi and eat it.
If you want a bit more detail, haloumi is a firm, salty cheese from Cyprus made from goat and sheep's milk, with a texture like a very dense mozzarella. Unlike mozz, however, haloumi has the singular virtue of not melting under high heat. Instead, like other proteins, haloumi will acquire a nicely browned crispness, which is great in a pan but outstanding when cooked over an open flame.
I've been thinking about pizza lately. We don't give it a lot of coverage in the magazine, which is strange as it's one of the three great American cheese-foods. Along with grilled cheese and mac 'n whatever, it demonstrates a very simple formula: starch + salt + fat = dinner.
Because pizza is ubiquitous (especially as children's fare), everyone has their own opinion on what makes a good slice. Preferences are typically formed early and harden into obstinacy during the college years, when exposure to out-of-state pizza combines with economic necessity to make students into connoisseurs. This is a good thing, in my opinion. Although everyone else is wrong, especially New Yorkers, it's our differences that create the rich tomato-and-cheese tapestry that is America.