Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Art of Cheese

The Art of Cheese

What is Artisan Cheese? I write a blog about the subject, yet I’ve never really defined the term.  Wikipedia defines it as such “Artisanal cheese refers to cheeses produced by hand using the traditional craftsmanship of skilled cheesemakers”. This is both appropriate and misleading at the same time. It reflects the simplicity of a practice that has been in place since before recorded history, yet it lacks the depth necessary to understand just how complex the product of a cheese maker’s labor truly is. Let me share some examples.

Rogue Creamery in Oregon uses fresh milk produced on their personal dairy farm. These cows are graze fed grass for most of the year which, by their estimation, produces the best milk for their cheeses, both rich in protein and butterfat. After heating, the rennet is introduced to the milk in order to begin the curdling process. Once the curds have begun to set, they are cut with a cheese harp and separated from the whey. From these curds they can produce amazing blue cheeses and bitingly delicious cheddars. All of these steps are performed by hand to exacting detail by processes developed hundreds of years ago and perfected to modern standards. For those that have not experienced it yet, their Rogue River Blue is an absolute pleasure of a cheese. It is aged in grape leaves that have been soaked in pear brandy, and the end product is by far my favorite blue, by which all other blue cheeses must be measured. (My opinion)

Another example involves a Mennonite family From Pennsylvania. After moving to Southern Iowa in 1992, they started a dairy farm. Living In the heart of old Amish country, it wasn’t a difficult stretch to imagine turning all of that milk into something more. Thus was born the Milton Creamery. Hard work and tradition was a way of life for this family. Simple living and dedication found its way into the methods by which they prepare their cheeses. The Prairie Breeze for instance, is an exceptional offering from the cheddar family. Both sweet and sharp, and painstakingly prepared the way cheese makers have been producing it for hundreds of years.  They even produce a Truckle, which is the Old English word for cylinder. It is a cloth-bound cheddar made and aged to produce a crumbly marvel that literally tastes of old world culture.

Most first crossing the line between plastic wrapped slices and hand crafted art, quickly become daunted by the posted price tag for some of these cheeses. The main thing to remember is that those prices are by the pound! If someone were to spend an afternoon eating a pound of any cheese, they had better keep some laxative handy, because their digestive system would certainly go on lockdown in protest. When serving cheese to guests or enjoying some yourself, the common recommendation is 2-4 ounces per person. That’s ounces, not pounds. So, unless you plan on having a cheese tasting involving the local high school football team and all of their friends, I suggest you take a deep breath and use some practical sense.  

Just remember that when you are buying an artisan cheese, you are not just purchasing a product. You are also buying years of experience and expertise, generations of tradition, and a dedication to perfection. If this still doesn’t convince you, then you are more than welcome to purchase some lactic imposter that is a byproduct of ingenuity, born out of the idea of mass consumption, and hand crafted on an assembly line.  All I can really hope is that you, the reader, take from this at least enough curiosity to entertain the idea of stepping out of the supermarket and into the art gallery. You won’t be disappointed.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro - "Welcome Home"

It is a lazy Sunday afternoon, just seven days after the tragic events in Boston. Events that will surely change the legacy of a local holiday that once celebrated the symbolic birth of an idea that would one day become the United States of America. Just seven days after events that galvanized a city, and exposed the heart of its residents turning a nation of people into Bostonians. On this day, just a lazy Sunday, conversations turned, as they often do, to the subject of food.

I like to think of myself as an adventurous person, at least where the culinary is concerned. So as my friends and I pondered the events of the past week and what we should do for dinner, it was decided that we should go out. A small form of defiance, I know, but the idea that an act of terror could force us to fear to live our lives just doesn’t fit the attitude of the citizens of this state. You see, Boston has a very long history of standing up to bullies, and though it was a tiny gesture, going out to dinner felt like a small victory. To that end, my friend Jim suggested we try Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro. As I had never been there, I agreed.

 Off we went, Jim, his wife Melissa, and myself, to stare death in the face (or at least to call him names from really far away) and hopefully enjoy a little bit of food and culture. Patriots Place is a small outdoor mall that is attached to Gillette Stadium; the home of the New England Patriots, and it was deathly quiet. Normally there would be a buzz of shoppers moving from store to store or taking in a movie at the local theater, but today, aside from a few people playing a beanbag toss game outside of the Life is Good store, we were alone.

Tastings is settled at the entrance to the stadium near the official pro shop, and it has a fairly nice view of the field. Patrons are greeted with shelves full of a variety of wine offerings and a rustic setting full of deep cherry, brown stone, and autumn accents. The place itself is comforting and warm without a hint of pretense, and the staff equally welcoming. Alas, just as with the walk leading to its front door, the restaurant was empty. I was a bit surprised to see this as I had observed on previous occasions not too long ago, a full house with a fairly long wait to get in. It had only been seven days after all.

We were seated by our friendly waiter Shawn, and it wasn’t a moment longer before we had menus, fresh water, and a list of specials to choose from. Even before I had a chance to look at the menu, Jim informed me with some enthusiasm that they had a cheese plate. Well now, being that I am the Cultured Caveman, this was something I had to experience. Though many times in the past have I been sorely disappointed by a generic offering of provolone, no-name brie, and some unknown cheddar  with some overly salty wheat crackers being billed as an “artisan cheese plate”. I was a bit skeptical to say the least.

A short time later, a slate arrived bearing four beautiful artisan cheeses from creameries like Boggy Meadow Farms and Rogue Creamery. Around these islands of lactic gold were dollops of a homemade strawberry vanilla jam that were like ruby pools of heaven. All of this was served with a plate of their own homemade crostini to better deliver all of it to our taste buds. In short, this place knows how to serve real artisan cheeses. Caveman happy!

Deciding on a dinner option, and since I was now suddenly on the hunt for fromage, I couldn’t help but notice their listing for an “award winning Mac and Cheese”. I love cheese, I eat cheese, and I write about cheese. This was clearly the right choice for me, and I was not wrong. The dish (an appetizer actually) consisted of small pasta shells bathed in a creamy mixture of Landaff, Boggy Meadow Fiddlehead Tomme, and some Grafton Village cheddar. This was all touched with a hint of truffle and topped with smoked bread crumbs. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Now that I had visited culture heaven, it was time for me to come back to Boston, and this little bistro was happy to oblige. You see, Executive Chef Ben Lacy, who was responsible for our creatively prepared meals, had come up with a dessert you would not only enjoy, but could be proud to have eaten. Chef Lacy, feeling the need to do something to help those affected by the recent tragedy, came up with a most amazing creation. A deconstructed Boston cream pie that featured towers of moist cake standing above a field of dark chocolate with dollops of vanilla custard and chocolate ganache, all of which reminded me of a city skyline. The best part of it was that portions of the proceeds went to “The One Fund Boston”. Bravo Chef Lacy, Bravo.

Now that I’ve given you some insight into my food experience, let me talk about the social side of Tastings. Our waiter Shawn was very personable and had no problem getting involved in our banter and definitely had a great sense of humor. If you can’t find something in life to laugh about, there really isn’t much point to it. In passing, as we were ordering the cheese plate, I had mentioned that as a blogger on the subject, I had an imperative to try it. Well, Shawn had heard me and took an interest in my blog. After explaining what it was and giving him the address, he disappeared into the back and a few seconds later we met the manager.

Cassandra Bader is the manager at Tastings, and that young lady knows her cheese. She came back to our table with a binder of cheese. (Not as controversial as a binder full of women, but in my opinion, just as sexy.) It was alphabetized and included so many wonderful cheeses from many excellent creameries. There was a decidedly pointed focus on farms and producers that were noted for their support of local growers and sustainability. It was quite refreshing to see a restaurant that clearly cared not only about what food they served, but where it was grown. The love of food was deeply rooted in the menu at Tastings, and it begins in the soil.

Lastly and certainly not least, Cassandra (We’re like besties in cheese at this point.) presented me with a jar of the amazing jam they served with the cheese plate, as well as Line Cook Thomas Norton's recipe for it printed out on parchment paper. With her permission I now share it with all of you so that you too can experience a little bit of the love we were served that night. Enjoy!

To sum it all up, I highly recommend you pay a visit to Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro, whether you like wine or not. This rustic and classy establishment will treat you more like family than paying customers, and it is my opinion, as well as my recommendation, that at some point they hang a small sign above the door that reads “Welcome Home”.

Do you have an experience at this restaurant or recommendations for the next time I go there, leave a comment below! If you found this blog helpful or interesting, or you just like cavemen, share it! Thanks for stopping by the cave!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Singin' the Caveman Blues

"Oh lil girl, whatcha doin with that milk"
"I say OH lil girl, whatcha doin with that milk"
"She say gonna go on down the deep hole"
"And make me something blue."
(Cue the steel guitar and harmonica)

Ok, so maybe I’m not Howlin Wolf or Muddy Waters, but I am definitely a caveman, and the blues run deep in my veins of penicillium. Of all the cheeses I’ve sampled in my life, I always find myself eventually coming back for that tangy wake-up call with the blue veins. To me, nothing compliments a delicious tenderloin quite like a tasty piece of blue. If you haven’t guessed it by now, this review is on exactly that; Blue cheese. In this particular case Caveman Blue by Rogue Creamery.

This little gem from the left coast (Pacific) is a beautiful example of an American made piece of artistry. It is a raw milk, cave aged cheese (for at least six months) and is both certified sustainable and rBST free. Beyond these statements of integrity, it is absolutely delicious. It is crumbly, creamy, sweet, and salty, all rolled into one tasty package. Caveman Blue has been a staple of the Rogue Creamery for over a decade and their efforts to perfect it really show.

My first taste of this treat revealed a great deal. I was immediately greeted at the door with the tangy bite that is a signature of all blues. Then, once I had a chance to settle in, I was met with a surprisingly sweet melody that heralded some deep earthy tones.  The cheese itself was delightfully crumbly at first, but quickly breaks down on the tongue to reveal a buttery smooth texture in the end.

In this review I decided to pair the cheese with one of my staples, as well as a few new items. I included some Sunburst tomatoes (personal favorite) as a sweet and fresh addition. Next in line is a Rose’ salami from Volpi  foods. To bring all of this back to earth, I included a delightfully nutty Romesco, prepared fresh by the culinary Maestro Robert Gonsalves. All of this was being delivered to my mouth via Beer Flats Pilsner flatbreads.

Meaty riff – The Rose’ salami itself has a sweetness that proved a perfect duet to the tangy sweetness of the creamy blue. To me, blue cheese in general has always been crafted with carne in mind. If you ever find your center cut filet or porterhouse looking a bit lonely, just lay down a few riffs of some fine blue to raise the spirits.

Sweet licks – As usual, the Sunburst tomatoes did not disappoint.  Juicy and sweet, the golden fruit was a perfect match for flavor, and their crisp snap kept perfect time with the creamy blue for those food texture aficionados.

Heavy bass – The Romesco by itself is amazing. I could write an entire entry just on this little treasure, but I’m a blogger of fine cheeses. That being said, if you ever find yourself in Hingham Massachusetts, make sure you stop by the Bloomy Rind for the nutty experience.  It really goes without saying that the Romesco was the bass man of Ol’ Caveman Blue. There’s just something about the nutty and earthy flavors that just seems to work musical magic, and these two delicacies are no exception.

Laying it all down – Beer flavored crackers. Need I really say more? Thick and hearty, the pilsner flatbreads really set the tempo. Not so overpowering that you would lose the flavor of anything put on it, but strong enough to let you know it’s there to play.

Let’s talk about the artists behind this cheese; RogueCreamery. I’ve had experience with this producer before. In fact, they make one of my favorite cheeses of all time. (To be reviewed later) Tucked away in the Rogue River Valley region of Oregon, the creamery is the crowning achievement of the late Tom Vella. After migrating north from Sonoma California, Tom settled in this farm rich region of Oregon. The depression era of the 1930’s was in full swing at the time, and work was scarce. Seeing an opportunity in the local farmsteads, Tom opened the Rogue Creamery creating jobs and working to revitalize the local economy. The farmers were eager to supply the Vella family with plenty of milk, and in turn, Tom was able to grow his business.

Rogue Creamery was also heavily involved in the war effort from 1941 to 1948. Rogue creamery supplied the US troops fighting overseas with a steady supply of cheddar cheese. This effort earned them an award from the US government for their diligence during such a turbulent time. If there’s anything I’ve learned about the Rogue Creamery it is their dedication to community and the preservation of sustainable local foods. My hat is off to this little purveyor of fine cheeses, and I for one plan to do my part by continuing to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Have you already tried Caveman Blue? If so let me know what you think! Leave a comment with any pairing suggestions or recipes below. Thanks again for stopping by the cave!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A date with Winnie

So there she was, waiting and watching me through the casement with shy longing. As I approached, her mask of timidity melted away to reveal a true nature as she wordlessly beckoned me to approach. Her heady scent caught my senses and led me closer with hints of deep earth and woodland passion.  I knew at once that I had met my equal as my lips met her cleanly washed… rind?

Wait a minute. That’s not what happened at all! Oh sure, things like this are definitely possible, but tend to only happen in books that people buy without a cover for twenty five cents. The real romance that occurs in the world of cheese most commonly appears in two places. The first is with the artist. The cheese maker that takes pride in the product he or she produces, in the natural elements that come into play which make this cheese unique, and in the effort required to turn their toil into a small piece of perfection.

The second romantic encounter is the tentative moment when one tries a cheese for the first time. Just like a first date, the initial taste of a new cheese can be both anxious and exciting. The differences between cheeses can be rather expansive like comparing  a cheddar to a Brie, but it can also be incredibly subtle like comparing two cheddars produced in two very different regions. It is for this reason that trying out something new from your local fromagerie can have that awkward first date feel.

So this is how my encounter with “Winnie” more accurately occurred. I sped to my new favorite cheese shop, the Bloomy Rind, only barely beating their closing time. (I am becoming famous for this already) I explained to the lovely Curator Mary that I had begun to blog my experiences regarding my journey through the wonderful world of curd, and that I wanted something to try for my next review.  I had already reviewed a cheese in the cheddar family and I wanted to move onto something a bit more-creamy like a nice bloomy or washed rind cheese. That is when she introduced me to Winnimere.

As any good purveyor of fine fromage will do, Mary at first offered me a sample before my decision to buy, but as I was looking for a cheese to review, I politely declined. I mean, if I only blogged about cheeses I liked, it really wouldn’t be very objective, now would it? Mary liked that idea and did something that impressed me. She suggested a smaller sample of the cheese than I initially asked for unless I was planning on sharing with a group. To me, that showed not only class, but it told me this person cared about her customers as well as the products she is clearly passionate about. The Bloomy Rind has definitely earned my loyalty and its owner my respect.

Now, on to the cheese, shall we? (More on the Bloomy Rind in an upcoming feature.) I took my date .. uh.. I mean my cheese home and set out a plating of all of the things I planned to pair it with. In this case I went with a nice Casalingo Salami by Creminelli, some Sunburst tomatoes, and a locally produced wildflower honey. All of this to be delivered on some olive oil and sea salted crostini.

First base –As this is a washed rind cheese it came standard with a fairly strong smell indicative of the majority of this breed of cheeses. My first taste of the cheese included some of the top rind which is not as strong as some washed rind cheeses and didn’t overpower the flavor of the creamy center. It was a mildly pungent taste with a sweet interior and expressed both woody and meaty accents. One of my guests equated it to smoked bacon.

Second base – (the meat test) My next sampling included a piece of the Casalingo, and they blended together rather well. Both the cheese and the salami had similar tones and together they managed to enhance each other very well. As far as I was concerned this was definitely a pass. There are several crass jokes I could make here since my theme seems to have turned into a dating show, but since I am trying to keep this blog PG, I will refrain from commenting on the innuendos prevalent to the mention of salami. Nope. Not gonna do it.

Moving on!

Third Base –( Tannin test) Now it was time to see how well it did when paired with a fruit that produced a fair amount of tannins, so I added the Sunburst tomatoes. You see, the micro flora (AKA mold) on some washed and bloomy rind cheeses can react poorly to the tannins in things like wine and some fruit such as tomatoes. This is definitely an unpleasant happenstance should you encounter it that is akin to chewing on a mouthful of aspirin. (Not recommended by the way) In the case of “Winnie” there was no such reaction. She remained sweet with the tomatoes, and even enhanced the flavor of their pairing with the meaty earth tone fragrance she was wearing. (I’m horrible.)

Rounding on home base – (Going for the sweet spot) At this point I brought out the honey and gave it a shot. We’re going all the way at this point, so no turning back right?  The result?  You’re outta there! Don’t get me wrong, the honey was enjoyable, and the pairing didn’t taste bad, but the sweetness of the bee juice just totally overshadowed poor Winnie. A lot of the flavor notes from the cheese were completely drowned out by the boldness of the honey. It was so much so that eating it with the cheese seemed redundant since the cheese wasn’t really contributing anything with it. I would recommend a nice fig jam or some dried fruits in this category if you’re planning on trying the dessert route for serving this cheese.

All in all, Winnimere is definitely a cheese worth exploring. She can be a bit shy at first but once you get going, don’t be afraid to explore new things. I think you would find her a most willing partner. I would just avoid anything with too strong or sweet notes as Winnie can get lost in the music. Keep things earthy or meaty like something by Barry Wh.. I mean a nice cured meat or something with a bit of smoke. I would definitely recommend this cheese to just about any tasting, but keep in mind, her perfume might not be for everyone, so handle introductions to new people very delicately.

Now, a word on the creamery behind this delicate flower. The Jasper Hill Creamery is nestled in the hills of Greensboro, Vermont. The cheese is produced between January and June using the winter milk of their Ayrshire herd of cows and aged in the creameries underground cellars. The cheese is wrapped in bark gathered from the local spruce population, and this adds both a woody flavor to the cheese, and also helps it hold its shape during the aging process. In order to elevate the flavor producing bacteria, the cheese is washed in beer produced by a local micro-brewery. All of these elements definitely go a long way to making Winnimere a very distinctive and pleasant cheese. It is recommended by her makers that Winnimere be served by removing the top rind allowing access to the creamy and scoopable center. I definitely predict a second date. (I hope she calls.)

Have you tried this cheese?  Do you have any pairing suggestions or recipes that might benefit from the addition of a Winnimere? If so, tell me about it as a comment to this entry!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Cool Breeze

So there I was, standing at the cheese counter in my local grocery store, contemplating what type of cheese should be the subject of my first review.   Should it be a nice bloomy triple crème, or maybe a nice buttery washed rind. I could easily turn to a tangy blue, or maybe a sharp hard cheese like cheddar or aged provolone.  I had no expectations of finding a well-crafted artisanal cheese in a chain supermarket, but then I saw it.

Nestled among the Cabots and store brand cheddar cheeses, a bright yellow label stood out from the rest of the over the top attempts at advertising. It simply read “Milk produced on small family farms”. I thought to myself, this might be worth checking into, and I picked up the closest block to find the producer. The cheese was called “Prairie Breeze”, and the label pronounced that is was produced by the Milton Creamery. There was a website in the border of the label so I decided it was worth checking out.

I picked up a few things I thought might be interesting to try with it as it was clearly in the cheddar family by its density and color, so I picked up some Recipe No. 5 Pinot Grigio Salami by Giovani Volpe & Company. I went with some sunburst tomatoes for a touch of sweet in case the cheese was sharp. I chose some sweet onion crackers from Partners as the delivery system that would bring it all to my mouth.

Upon opening the cheese I noticed there wasn’t a lot of oil on the surface. It was going to be a crumbly one. The smell was pretty mild, especially for cheddar, so I wasn’t expecting it to be very sharp. (It was a sneaky cheese. I will elaborate later.) The first cut on my handcrafted wire cheese board (I love to support local craftspeople.) did not fall apart, so it wasn’t as hard as parmesan or a 2 year aged provolone.

My first taste was the cheese by itself. I wanted to make sure I got the full experience unhindered by any of my chosen pairings. As soon as it hit my tongue, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it was sweet. It was at that point that I noticed it did indeed crumble and there were tiny pockets of salt that can gather during the cheddaring process, another pleasant surprise. The flavor was even and not initially sharp, and then it creeps up on you.  (here’s the sneaky, ninja cheese part.) The after taste of the cheese slowly comes up from somewhere in the back, and you’re reminded of a nice aged provolone or a Dubliner. I found myself enjoying the multiple layers of flavor that move in like partners in crime as you eat this little rustic treasure.

Now it was time for the meat test. Meat and cheese have gone together since man discovered that food tastes far better preserved than rancid. The salami I chose has a nice woody flavor with a hint of spice and wine. A cheese like Prairie Breeze should work well with just about any artisan meats, and this was no exception. The heady flavors of the salami rolled wonderfully into the sweet and tangy arms of the cheese like a sincere hug from that favorite someone.  This is definitely a cheese just as comfortable at a tailgate with a good beer as it is next to a Chaource and candied fruit.

With each taste I added another layer. The sunburst tomatoes were next, and then I finally laid it all on one of the sweet onion crackers. The flavors laced together to make a wonderful combination that I would enjoy during any serving and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a good cheddar or similar hard or crumbly cheese. Prairie Breeze  is pretty versatile and could be served by itself or with any number of combinations. Don’t be afraid to experiment with it and it is easily a cheese that would be a crowd pleaser if shared.

Now that I’ve reviewed the cheese, let me comment on the family behind it. I explored the website ( for the Milton Creamery and found a community that not only cared about the product they produced, but were really proud of the result.  To quote from their story “We make cheese and we want you to try it.” A simple Mennonite family from Pennsylvania, the Mussers settled in the farm country of Milton Iowa in 1992. As dairy farmers, and completely surrounded by Amish farmland, making cheese seemed a match made in, well; Heaven.  In cooperation with their Amish neighbors, the Milton Creamery was born.

The creamery itself is nestled on some of the prettiest countryside that I’ve ever seen, and I would love  paying them a visit just for the chance to enjoy the view. Having access to all of their stock wouldn’t be too bad either. The Musser family sincerely puts the “farmhouse” in their farmhouse style of cheeses and I look forward to trying more of their products. Suffice to say, I am happy that I was able to discover this little gem, and their Prairie Breeze was certainly a breath of fresh air. 

If you've tried this cheese already, or you happen to read this blog and go rushing to the store to find some for yourself, let me know about it in the comments below. Tell me what you thought of the cheese and what you paired it with. Got a recipe you might think would benefit from some Prairie Breeze? Share it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Quest for Curd

As this is my first blog, and I haven't got a clue how these things start, I guess the story of how I got to this point is the best place to begin.

To begin with, let me say that I love cheese. I mean I REALLY LOVE cheese. Growing up, dinner wasn't complete without something made from some kind of milk product. The problem is, I really didn't know what cheese really was until a couple of years ago. You see, I had become tired of the same old counter top offerings of lactose. For me, real cheese never meant more than the standard Cabot sharp, or on some more daring occasions, a generic blue. There were very few options. Either I abandon my love of curd, or I find something to rekindle that childhood passion. The quest began.

Believe it or not, I almost owe my "cultural" growth to a comedy sketch called "Cheese Shop" by Monty Python. Maybe you've seen it. That whole sketch was a little like a metaphor for my love of cheese and my lack of understanding as to what cheese actually is. In the Sketch, a customer walks into a cheese shop and begins to request several cheeses from the monger behind the counter. In every case, the Monger replies to the gist that he doesn't have it or has run out of each one. By the end, the realization is that there is no cheese available to be sold in this particular boutique. The difference with me is that I had never heard of any of the cheeses that were mentioned, but I knew that would be the perfect place to start. The similarity is that once I started asking for them, none of them were available in my normal locales. I knew I had to find new places to locate that which I sought.

I started searching the interwebs with skeptical expectations of finding places that sold my comic list of cheeses. I mean, after all, if you can't find these things at your local supermarket, who else would carry them, right? Yeah, after some searching, I realized just how clueless about the culture of culture I was. My first break happened when, on a recommendation, I stop for something (not cheese related) at a nearby Whole Foods market. I noticed they had a very well stocked cheese counter, and low and behold, I found a wensleydale! I was so happy to have found one of the cheeses on my list that I almost forgot to get what I had come there for in the first place. My journey had begun.

I made several trips to the same Whole Foods, each time grabbing a new cheese, some were not even on my list, and each time I went, I noticed this little room with huge cheese wheels along the back wall. At first I paid it no mind expecting that it was just the room for cutting and packaging the cheese that was sold at the counter. Boy was I wrong. Happily wrong. On a whim, I decided to talk to the young lady working in the room, and she explained that the little cubby of curds was actually filled with exceptional artisanal offering that are cut, packaged and sold to order. I was in heaven. I knew I had arrived.  ..sort of.

Don't get me wrong, pricing aside, Whole Foods was a great first step for me, and I would recommend them to anyone getting started on their own search for amazing fromage. The problem I eventually ran into was the turnaround on the mongers that worked there. I love making friends, but I'd also like to keep the ones I've made, and it made it difficult to build a rapport with your local purveyor of cheese if they constantly disappear. It was recommended in several sources during my online search that one should build a relationship with his or her favored cheese monger. I had cut my teeth at this point and, at least in my own mind, I had earned some chops on the subject of real cheese, so I began to explore other options.

So, in an attempt to stem the flood of thoughts on the subject, on the urging of my lovely wife, I have gotten off my butt and started this little blog to share my experiences as I delve deeper into a subject both dear to my heart and my taste buds. (more on the subject of spouses and cheese in a future post.)

So, if you're interested in cheese and want to know a little more, stay tuned as I sample and review the byproduct of an ancient and highly artistic trade that is rich in both passion and culture. (pun intended)