Getting foodie…

So, I’ve been to two new restaurants (new to me at least) in the last two days.  At both of the restaurants, I ate cheese plates.  Yes, I am cheese obsessed.  But I think it’s a good thing.  To quote Max McCalman (a dedicated cheese scholar and one of the cheese world’s living legends), “Real cheese is good food, plain and simple.  It offers a full, healthy complement of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals; it provides all essential nutrients except vitamin C and fiber.  Cheese is also a more environmentally friendly food than, say, a porterhouse steak.  Clearly, it is a far more efficient use of pastureland than the raising of cattle for meat;  over the years, a live cow gives a great deal of milk, which in turn yields thousands of cheeses.  We can only eat a dead cow once.”  (The Cheese Plate; 2002). Smart man… right?  Need to meet him someday.

My Tuesday night cheese experience was at The Jakewalk a Carroll Gardens restaurant that has a SICK cheese plate.  Many of the cheeses come from Stinky Bklyn.  I went to The Jakewalk with my friend who lives in the hood.   Our moms were friends before our births – and I believe we’ve known each other since we were under the age of one.  That is pretty cool – to know someone that long.  It is comforting to have a friend who has known you since you were a child  – and who still loves you.  That’s a 30 year-long relationship.  God – I can’t believe I’ve even been alive that long, let alone had a friend that long.  Whew.

Meanwhile, at The Jakewalk, we had a fabulous bartender named Jeremy who gave us wonderful cheese suggestions, as I was overwhelmed by the extensive cheese menu – many cheeses I’d never even heard of!  We started with Brebirousse D’Argental – a pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese from France.  It was delectable and creamy, and luscious…one of my favorites out of the four.  The second cheese we tried was Montcabrer – a pasteurized goat’s milk cheese from Catalonia, Spain.  This cheese was good – but didn’t necessarily rock my world like the Brebirousse.  The third cheese we tried was Midnight Moon – a pasteurized goat’s milk cheese from Holland.  This was really yummy and had that caramelly, cooked brown-butter taste with the little crunchies… like Parmeasano Reggiano or an aged Gouda.  We liked this one very much.  And finally, we ended with the Fourme d’ Ambert – a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from France.  This is my go-to cheese for people who say they don’t like blue cheese.  It is the first blue cheese that I totally LOVED… as a person who used to not like blue cheese either.  This cheese has the perfect amount of saltiness, creaminess & nuttiness.  It is fairly mild too.  So if you think you don’t like blues… but you’re willing to test that notion… try Fourme d’ Ambert.  It’s wonderful.

Tonight I went to a restaurant called Joseph Leonard Grove & Waverly.  This was a fabulous place I had never been to!  I met my friend Wendy, who had been there a few times before and we had a lovely  meal of cheese, duck rillettes & white wine (Gruner Veltliner from Austria… one of my favorite whites – learned about it from a Murray’s wine & cheese pairing class).  This was my first time having rillettes.  I never exactly knew what rillettes was, though I’ve seen it on menus before…  it is a meat (in this case duck confit) that is slowly cooked in fat, then shredded and mixed with the fat (in this case butter) to form a paste.  It had the consistence of a creamy tuna salad I guess… and they served it with a delicious mustardy mayo & warm country bread.  It was AWESOME!!  Seriously awesome.

As for cheeses, we had Quadrella di buffala – a soft & creamy buffalo milk cheese (loved it), a french Chevrot – lightly aged goat’s milk cheese with a chalky paste & a tangy goaty flavor, Tarentaise – an organic cow’s milk cheese from Vermont, which is nutty, buttery & delicious, Pecorino Grand Cru – an aged sheep’s milk cheese from Sardegna, Italy – had that sheepy, salty, sweet, crunchy, caramelly taste,  and finally a blue cheese that I can’t for the life of me remember!

Anyway – I’m loving all these cheese plates!  I can’t get enough!  The most fun part of it all – is building up my palate… my friends, whom I’ve shared these delightful dinners with, have been kind enough to indulge me in my cheese teachings & tasting lessons – and in my opinion, when you really take the time to taste a cheese really pay close attention, it is very rewarding.  There are thousands of different kinds – handmade around the world.  They differ from week to week, season to season – cheese is a living breathing thing and it’s completely got me fascinated!  Good stuff.  I can’t wait for Murray’s on Friday… it’s back to the caves for me… which means heading home after all the hard work with multiple cheeses to try!  YUMMMM.


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