May 8, 2010

New Feature?

Hi all. Doctor-Professor (which has less weight around here, since the Diss was finished) / Mr. Forty-two Roads here. Anna's little X-wing is keeping me company, while she and the kiddos are off and away. I'm supposed to be getting work done; instead, I'm announcing a new, hopefully recurring feature of this little corner of the interwebs, "Cheese Log" (which needs a better name - I am now taking suggestions :) ).

I like cheese. A lot; all kinds. I'm really not picky, and I'm hardly any sort of expert or connoisseur (other names that come up if you google cheese expert [the fact that I did that clearly show's I'm nothing of the sort] are Affineur, Cheese Monger, and Fromager. Maybe I should call this "Cheese Mongrel"). Anyway, I'm no expert - I just like eating it, and there's this great cheese place here in Philly, the cheese counter at Di Bruno Brothers.

Before I begin with the actual cheese-talk, first, a diversion. I will say that I think part of my interest in cheese comes from a trip my parents took me on when I was little (maybe 10? 12?), to a place called Cinque Terre (see below for a scenic picture, courtesy of Google Images. What was life like before Google?), in Northwest Italy (near Milan & Pisa). They took us to this ridiculously nice restaurant, "La Chevre D'Or." That was the first time that I remember eating at a restaurant that, between dinner and dessert, they rolled out a cheese cart. Now, I'm not going to check this, but I distinctly remember they had 197 cheeses. And you could pick however many you wanted. I was a kid, so I picked all sorts of wacky ones, and I have no idea what they tasted like, but I remember liking the concept of "lots of fancy cheeses."

So that brings us here. I actually like all sorts of cheese; I mean, it's like, delicious, right? Who doesn't like cheese, really? Recently, my awesome sister took me to a restaurant here in Philly called Le Bec Fin, where, to my luck, she was friends with the chef. We had an awesome meal, and I got to spend a lot of time talking to the Maitre Fromager (yet another variant name for "cheese expert"). We discussed all the cheeses, and what features I was partial to, and he helped cure my fear of walking up to a fancy cheese counter and chatting with the cheese-guys.

So, armed with some fancier words and more clarity I approached the Di Bruno Brothers cheese counter. I will start off this Cheese Blog with my current favorite, and the cheese off of which I base my forays into other styles:

Tome d'Aydius

This is best described as a mountain goat cheese, from the Pyrenees in France, near the Spanish border. Click on the link for more details, if you're interested. This cheese is delicious, it's light and full of flavor, and knowing the features I like about it lets me venture off from that base to discover new wonderful cheeses. (Key features that I like: mountain, goat, southern France. Also, apparently, "expensive." Tome is not for the faint-of-pocket; it runs $27/lb, which is why I am now happy that I know about it, and can say "What do you have that tastes like Tome d'Aydius, mountain goat or sheep, but is not nearly that expensive?")

Amusing highlights from my experiences over the past few months talking to the cheese people, was when I was trying to find a cheese for Anna, and I asked the Fromager for something she'd like, and told him what she ate. He said "Oh, she eats wall cheeses?" with utter disdain and disgust, gesturing towards the pre-packaged cheese chunks off to the side, out of the main display. (I was shamed, as I, too, eat wall cheeses. Like I said, I'm not too picky).

Today, however, was a new achievement; I feel like I passed a level or something. I was chatting with the fromager about cheeses and trying to select a few (ostensibly for mother's day breakfast, but really, they'll be lucky to last that long). He was helping another customer, and we all started chatting, and he was so impressed with my suggestions and dialogue that he said "you should put on an apron and come back here!" And I'm 52% sure he actually meant it!

So, this is entry #1 into the Cheese Blogosphere. There are other fancier cheese blogs. And I may have a hard time keeping this regular, but I hope to go to Di Bruno every Saturday, and report back once a week. If you enjoy reading about this, or have any comments, or, especially, cheese thoughts or suggestions, please let me know.