07 March 2011
There is certain arrogance to being a foodie, a sort of lifted-up, unspoken status that of course means absolutely nothing other than the fact that you've survived being raised on Big Agri and have since reinvented your relationship with food. Indeed it is cool to embark on a life of tasting and pairing, spreading and dipping, and of course, adding cheese to anything and everything you can sample it with. And it’s fun to work the gastronome angle, show off your cheese exposure to your pedestrian-palate friends, dropping names and saying it properly as well. Admit it, it’s equally as fun to whip out the arbitrary seasoned or wine-crusted piece in gorgeous wrap and pass it off as just some little nothing lying around in your humble Sub Z. Admit it, knowing what’s out there is a constant source of amusement. Which brings me to my latest game: introducing myself as a blogger for an American cheese magazine, while befriending the Lunigianese artisan cheese producers and sampling everything in sight. Well it’s true, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you do it?
In sharing stories with fellow cheese dorks, I’m starting to realize the extreme measures to which people will resort for a fix. I’m not talking smuggling French cheese past U.S. customs in one’s underwear, although that’s certainly admirable.
No, I’m talking about situations that are perhaps a bit humiliating, if not outright pathetic. I seem to find myself in these situations with some regularity, in part because I’m frequently on the road (here or overseas) for my work as a food and travel journalist. The fact that I’m lactose intolerant just adds to the fun.
Hello fellow cheese-lovers!
I am the new intern for Culture. I have just completed two years at the University of Leeds, England, studying BSc Food Science and Nutrition and am currently on a Study Abroad year at the University of California, Davis. I am very excited to learn more about one of the greatest foods on earth (and the moon?!).
“What is that?”
Ok, not the most gracious way to greet my husband who is, uncharacteristically, standing at the stove. But on the burner is a pot the size of a minivan. In his hand is a 12 mile long spoon. The pot is filled to the rim, molten liquid bubbles bursting wetly splatter the counter, and…the floor. The dog, aka “the Mop” for the extent of this kitchen escapade, has gamely taken on floor cleaning duty.
But, when I asked that rude question I did already know it was one of two things; a lifetime supply of dragon fire salsa, or (and here is where my heart started to sink) a vat of chili.
It’s chili. We will be eating chili for quite a while.
(Why is it absolutely necessary to make chili in cafeteria size proportions? I have a theory. I think it’s because this is xtreme cooking, not to simply put food on the table, but to make a statement about the essential manliness of chili.)
Sunday night is typically a slow one at the ol’ restaurant, and the staff is pared down accordingly. This can result in hairy situations. This past Sunday, when 7:30pm rolled around, it seemed that ALL the residents of Boston made the choice to dine out.
March - early spring warmth after the cold weather is like breathing out after a shock - just the joy of it is enough. All the signs of spring hasten on, buds swelling, birds engrossed in their courtship and nesting, spring flowers start - primroses, daffodils, blackthorn. The landscape, so long held in suspension, slowly then faster and faster animates in the wild dance of the seasons. Ravens call from the woods, a fat fallow hind, belly big with calf, can’t be bothered to skitter out of the way when she sees no threat from me, and walks over the hedge into the copse. They’ve got a good eye for what’s a threat: there is an old fallow hind who follows the woods tractor, knowing that the felled trees will give a good lunch on the soft bark from the top of the tree. When she hears the grunt of the tractor, she follows the sound: won’t follow other tractors, just the one with Tony in it who fells the trees.
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.
Just caught this little bit of inspiration via the Jerusalem Post of all places.
At 8:30 this morning I took my seat in a classroom at the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese (on the campus of UVM in Burlington), to start the first of a four-day- cheesemaking intensive course. This education for me is long overdue. As the editor of culture magazine, I’ve learned a lot on the job about what makes one wheel different from another, but there are big gaps in my cheese intelligence. What really happens (on a microbial level) when milk, starter, coagulant and a cheesemaker come together in a creamery? It was time I knew.
As promised, I’ll share my Valentines Day cooking adventure. Instead of cooking for one special someone, I helped run around for about twenty hungry companions. A friend, chef/ owner of Nudel Restaurant, and I collaborated on a cheese inspired Valentine’s Day tasting. Besides chopping and slinging sauté pans, I took the honor of picking out 4 contrasting and unique domestic cheeses from Rubiner’s...