My Love Letter to Cheese
Melissa is often my partner in crime when it comes to food. So when Maya sent me the link to this cheese warehouse website, I knew instantly that A) I had to go, and that B) Melissa had to go with me. (All of these pictures are Melissa’s by the way.)
With Google map in hand, we finally made the trek to the nether regions of the Southside a few weeks ago. I’ve been meaning to write about it since. Given that this is Valentine’s Day, I thought it appropriate and sit down today and write this post about my most favorite foodstuff on earth. Cheese. I love the moldy, I love the nutty, I love the stinky, I love the creamy. I love it when it’s aged and hard and sharp. I love it when it’s young and smooth and tastes like you’ve dipped your tongue in a bath of cream. I mean, it’s easy to get rhapsodic about cheese. It’s the most versatile food I can think of, and there has to be–if you try hard enough–a cheese for every preference. It’s remarkable how many avenues a cheese maker can walk down, how many different flavor sensations can be produced from an animal’s milk. It seems such a primal phenomenon–the desire to preserve milk, the basic food that we all start with.
On the Saturday morning of our trek, we pulled up to an unassuming warehouse with a collapsible sign out front. We walked down a ramp in a loading zone toward another sign promising cheese.
When we walked in, we were greeted by the intense nutty, funky smell that is unmistakably cheese. We were surrounded by it, in it. A man with a belly and a beret was standing before a folding table with likely 50 different hunks of cheese, each flying a flag with its name and origin. A few other couples were standing around, and beret man was slicing off tastings of any and all of the cheeses.
We were a bit overwhelmed at first, but definitely impressed by the selection (I use the royal we speaking for Melissa because I’m sure she will concur). All the cheeses that he sells are American, and the range on display was pretty vast. Blues, cows, goats, sheeps, smoked, raw.
This Kelle Blue was one of the most intense cheeses I’ve ever tasted. It was actually kind of a palate-buster, making milder cheeses I tasted afterward seem pretty milquetoast. But when it was in my mouth, it was all I could think of. It seemed to hit every single taste bud with its briny, sharp cream.
Before we really got down to the business of picking cheeses, we explored a bit. We entered the gigantic fridge/cheese cave, with shelves and shelves of packaged cheeses.
We came upon a few doozies of the moldy/stinky varietal.
What we finally walked away with was a blue from Louisiana, a Vermont sheep’s cheese, and a hard goat cheese, and a few slices of aged asiago. They all got consumed as soon as we put them out at a dinner party that night, so I’d say we chose well.
One of the very best things I’ve ever read about cheese is an article by Eric LeMay called “Illegal Cheese.” You can download it from the Gastronomica website, and I highly suggest you do.
So, happy Valentine’s Day, Cheese! Here’s to many, many more.