So, my favorite holiday hits this weekend, and I was curious: is anyone going to risk a full-house egging and TP drape and just give away actual Babybels at the door? Delightful as these salty little snacks are, they are clearly only one short rung above toothbrushes in the Halloween hierarchy, when only sweet will do.
Late one night a few months ago, at my place of (waitressing) employment, a British couple plunked themselves down at our little bar. The bartender that night (Josh, let’s call him) chatted them up for a little while, before, serendipitously, the conversation turned to cheese.
Sidenote: I find it incredible how often this happens without even a nudge from someone like me!
Anyways , this lovely (they were!) couple from across “the pond” said:
“Well you don’t have any cheese to speak of here, now do you?”
My hand-drawn instructions are a sublime piece of art. Metro lines, directions, changes, rue by rue and the same in reverse. All this so I can achieve cheese Nirvana in Paris without having to speak to a single French person. Well, ok, I may have to say something at the fromagerie, the Laurent Dubois Fromagerie on Rue Sant-Germain, but here's to hoping.
Two weeks after being in Paris my French language skills remain that of a zygote. Sure, I could ask for some cheese, "avez vous de fromage?" But that would sound awfully stupid in a fromagerie. Ok, so I could say "avez vous de brie?" to be brief and specific. But what unholy concoction of words could comprise the reply to this simple question? "A Brie de Meaux madame? Would you prefer the double cream or the triple? How would you care to try some of this special little artisan goat's cheese made on my grandmother's farm in Normandy?"
According to Josh Kramer, "If there are two things that I love, they are comics and cheese."
"This summer I discovered that a cheese I had been selling for years, Tarentaise, is made only twenty-five minutes from where I live now in Vermont. I went there recently, just as the leaves were turning, and was blown away by the beauty of the place...."
The other day, when I slipped in a puddle of olive oil while doing a rushed trot up the stairs at my “other” job, I was comforted by the knowledge that culture is part of my life. As I fell, the dirty glassware in my hands crashed to the ground in an epic display of noise. Menus slipped out from under my elbow and slid back down the stairs. As is typical in my life at the restaurant, EVERYONE was watching. Managers zoomed in for damage control, picking up debris as I got to my feet and apologized “wow, that olive oil slick is pretty serious…” etc. They asked me if I was alright (the only answer is YES), and told me to tuck in my shirt.
I pictured them all in a closed room, laughing maniacally as they crossed my name off of a giant list of “people worth keeping around.”
“I had this cheese last time I was here and I can’t remember…”
This is the most common phrase uttered by a customer at the cheese shop where I’m a cheesemonger in northern CA. (Actually, the most common phrases are probably “I’d like something nutty” and “I don’t know anything about cheese,” but those are future blogs.) My focus here and now is on those who buy cheese regularly and just can’t remember what cheese they loved last time – and ways that this can be addressed.
Will someone give me a hand?
The Veneto region grows one of the world's best strains of rice. Vialone Nano is a short grain that's hard to find in US stores, but is supposed to beat Arborio in the risotto game.
I learned this on two successive trips to two rice producers, where I was given six 2 lb. bags of this rice to take home with me. My backneck hurts just looking at it. Anyone want a bag?
Post your favorite risotto recipe in the comments. I will send the best recipe a heavy, heavy bag of premium-quality Vialone Nano.