Introducing The Joy of Cheese and Back in the Day
I'm happy to be in the midst here. Before I get all verbose and everything, please allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Martin Johnson and I've been a cheesemonger for most of the last 27 years. I've held buyer and managerial jobs at several fine and now mostly defunct (through no fault of my own) shops in Manhattan. After realizing that working full time as a writer and full time as a cheesemonger was incompatible with the goal of living a vibrant life in New York City, I paired the cheesemongering back to a part time endeavor. For the last six and half years I've worked part time on the counter of the Bedford Cheese Shop in Brooklyn. Because being a freelance journalist is a pretty dicey proposition in this economy and because the caliber of cheese available to New Yorkers today shouldn't be a secret known only to people who frequent fine retailers, I started another endeavor, The Joy of Cheese, where I hold informal cheeses classes at four bars in NYC. It seemed to me that a lot more people frequent bars in New York than frequent cheese boutiques, so this was an opportunity to do outreach and audience development work on behalf of great cheese. I also teach formal classes (ones with teacher evaluation forms and everything) at the 92nd St. Y.
The schedule for the bar classes is at http://thejoyofcheese.blogspot.com/
A fine example of one of the bar classes will take place Tuesday January 4th at d.b.a Brooklyn. Ray Deter, the bar's owner and I will sample and discuss seven blue cheeses which will be paired with seven superb beers. For instance Blauschimmel will be paired with Fuller's 1845, Herve Mons Persille Beaujolais will be paired with a Troubadour Blonde Ale and there will be five other pairings.
In addition, I have another blog, http://thejoyofcheese.wordpress.com/, where I create a daily post called Fromage of the Day, in which I try to bring cheese and the arts together and elevate the language we use for both. I'm a ardent proponent of using better adjectives for cheese than strong or mild, and Fromage of the Day becomes my daily attempt to walk that walk.
Almost lastly, I write a column on cheese for Serious Eats; here's a recent example, http://bit.ly/fO20as.
And indeed lastly, (hey, I hinted that I'm a verbose type), I want to introduce a series here called Back in the Day. It's a memoir-ish account of what it was like to work on a cheese counter more than 25 years ago. Back then Chaumes was a top shelf washed rind cheese, and St. Andre and L'Explorateur represented the state of the art in triple cremes,and my cheesemonger colleagues and I thought we were really smart because we knew of Reggiano. It was an interesting time to see the food world grow around you every day.
Anyway those are a few words of introduction. Many more words, hopefully of greater substance will follow..