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27 February 2007

cheese!

cheese delivery

As the Chef and I were rounding the corner, toward the restaurant, we were deep in conversation about a dear friend of ours. Serious and absorbed, we wondered why people grow jealous in relationships, and how our friend could best take care of herself. Is anyone surprised that this led us to sweetly cooing about our love? In the middle of murmuring to me, gushy and low in his throat, the Chef immediately bounded to ten-year-old kid, Christmas-morning excited: "The Peterson truck is here!"

He nearly jumped out of the car before I could bring it to a stop. "Go! Go!" I exhorted, my voice as raised and quavery as his.

Not much can interrupt us from our eyes-locked, in-love-with-each-other talking. But a giant semi-trailer truck full of cheese? That will do it every time. (That, and the perfectly placed smart-ass comment that cracks us both up.)

Oh god, I love cheese. Once, about a decade ago, I decided to give up cheese, in a misguided attempt to lose weight. Walking down the aisles of the grocery store, I felt a bit like a drug addict trying to be good, but desperate for a fix. Everything I wanted to eat contained cheese. I checked the labels of every food, just to see if I could eat it. (Actually, I realize now, that was pretty good preparation for going gluten-free. It was the first time I truly examined labels on food.) Six weeks later, I gave up. I shaved a small slice of Irish cheddar off a creamy white block, and I was done. I have never looked back.

What is life without cheese?

(I'm so sorry, those of you cannot eat dairy. Look away.)

Once every few weeks, the Chef orders wheels of cheese for the restaurant from Peterson's cheese, here in Seattle. One of the most delicious thrills of watching him plan a menu is listening to the various delectables he might order. Triple cream? Sheep's cheese from Spain? A Drunken goat?

Today, he pulled four surprises from the large box. A Saint Nectaire, cow's milk cheese made in the mountains of Auvergne, in France. The description? "...a wonderful combination of a summer pasture and sweet, fruity milk flavors." Valée d’Aspe, a goat cheese from the Basque area of the Pyrénées: "...fruity, tangy, a little salty...finishes with a wonderful caramelized nuttiness that makes you reach back for more." And a Brique Agour, a sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region of Spain, crumbly and nutty, with a rich flavor, which has been aged for at least four months before it is shipped to the United States.

I always think about that, when I look at food before me: how many hands have touched this before it reached mine? Where did this food begin? On a small farm in Spain? In the mountains of France? In the udders of a cow? Given from a goat? Every bite of food we eat comes with stories.

(Unfortunately, the fourth cheese he ordered was a blue from the Rogue River creamery. Their blue molds begin in bread, which makes their beautiful cheese forbidden to me. However, when I called their customer service number yesterday, to see if I could eat some, a lovely woman did inform me that strides are being made toward an artisanal mold that comes from something other than bread. As soon as it works, they will begin using it.)

We both sighed a little, as we looked at the cheese before us. And then we laughed, as I stood on a chair to do a photo shoot with the cheese.

Let me tell you, the Chef and I have no criminal tendencies. (Well, I may have borrowed a copy of Gourmet magazine from the dentist's office, recently.) But if we were to ever take up a life of crime? We would never, like Bonnie and Clyde, go on a fast ride through the United States, stylish and savvy, robbing banks. Instead, we'd be far more likely to hijack a Peterson's cheese truck, throw the driver a pound of Roquefort Vieux Berger, and ride off into the sunset, nibbling on goat cheese as we go.

23 Comments:

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Lynn said...

I completely share your intense love of cheese. I often say I've eaten every cheese listed in the Monty Python "Cheese Shop" routine except for Venezuelan Beaver Cheese, and that's only because it's fictional. :)

 
At 11:00 PM, Blogger Food Allergy Queen said...

Boo hoo. My food allergies include dairy and I miss cheese terribly. Tragically, I was introduced to the amazing world of exotic cheeses by a friend working at the Cheese Store in Beverly Hills mere months before I was diagnosed. D'oh! I'll have to enjoy vicariously through you and your pictures instead. Thanks.

 
At 2:32 AM, Blogger Anne-Sophie said...

Oh, you listed my home-cheese, St Nectaire! Now you know why we crma so much into our suitcases and backpacks coming home from my parents. Visual proof is to be found here: http://havekitchenwillcook.squarespace.com/have-kitchen-will-cook/2007/2/17/its-a-tough-job-but-somebodys-gotta-do-it.html

Unfortunately, my pregnancy means no unpasteurised cheeses (in theory), but I must admit that I do need a little fix of 'proper' cheese sometimes. I can live without the wine, but not without the cheese, for 9 months! And here: http://madeleinesproject.squarespace.com/the-madeleines-project/2007/2/13/my-first-meme-in-leaps-of-5.html you can see that my cheese-addiction started VERY early :-)

 
At 4:14 AM, Blogger David said...

cheesecheesecheese...don't go a day without it!

 
At 6:05 AM, Blogger Fran said...

Shauna, I've been reading your blog for a few months now - and I love the way you write.

But I just had to add a comment today about the cheese - I adore cheese! Over in the UK we have some amazing artesian cheeses - if you ever get a chance to try them then do. They can be incredible. But I'm a sucker for French cheeses. In fact, losing weight for me has to involve a diet that can allow cheese.

I'm not celiac, but I am very intolerant to wheat, so your recipes have been really inspirational. Thank you.

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger Kelly said...

Oh, cheese makes me swoooooon. Goosebumps and wine go so well with cheese.

Your writing makes me swoon too.

 
At 6:55 AM, Blogger Lacey said...

I love it!! Besides having so many complex flavors, cheese has so much tradition. I walked through the sheep pastures of the Basque region, all the while gnawing on cheese I bought from the farmer for a dollar. It was amazing to see the flavors of the cheese change as the pastures and regions changed! Do you ever go down to Beechers? I can spend hours there drooling...

 
At 7:01 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

I don't blame the Chef for leaping with joy upon seeing the cheese truck. It's like manna from heaven! And yes, I hope the company that you called finds a away to make the blue cheese in a mold that doesn't include bread. I am crazy for blue, but always suspicious about eating it, even when restaurants like Outback tell you that THEIR blue cheese is GF. But there is hope, when I read news like you received. Thanks for giving us something to look forward to.

 
At 7:43 AM, Blogger nowheymama said...

My husband and I have made it our goal to provide our allergic-to-dairy daughter with the richest, most varied diet we can, but... cheese. You cannot fake cheese. Luckily a friend of mine keeps a cheese stash at her house for when I just can't take it anymore. Shh, don't tell.

 
At 7:53 AM, Blogger Slacker Mom said...

I am with you..cheese is THE BOMB.

:)

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger jenA said...

hahaha, my dairy allergy doesn't stop me! thankfully it's not severe, so i splurge on a nice hunk of something handmade and delightful every now and then - never in public, though....

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger nicole said...

What a fabulous ode to cheese! I, too, am an unapologetic cheese-lover. I love to think about where it came from (sometimes, if I'm lucky, from just over the bay in Pt. Reyes) and who has worked to bring it to me. My brother spent a weekend working on a cheese farm in Pa. and said it was such an amazing experience to see how it all comes about. Yummy.

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger Amy Jo said...

Oh I do so wish to be your friend. Too bad you live so far away, or I would be at the Chef's restaurant with my allergy ridden children at least once a week. You write beautifully, you live beautifully and you love beautifully. Thanks for being such a wonderful person and for sharing with all of us.

 
At 9:54 AM, Blogger Allergic Girl said...

goodness, the first time i gave i cheese i DREAMED about it. i thought that was a sign to go back which i did.

this time around going dairy free [except for some lactaid milk in my morning tea] no dreams, hence no cheese relapse! ;-)

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger KW said...

What a great post! I love the concept of a "cheese truck."

Out of curiosity--what do you think is the best gluten-free vehicle for conveying cheese to mouth? I imagine that you have no problem with taking your cheese straight up, but when you do choose to cut your cheese with some form of carbohydrate, what do you prefer?

 
At 2:25 PM, Blogger Liz said...

Mmm…cheese. My cheese awakening started with a Saint Nectaire while visiting my ex-pat uncle in the Auvergne region of France. He took it upon himself to educate me about cheeses of the region and all I can say is, well, mmmm.

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger Liz said...

Cheese Glooooooooooooorious Cheeeeeeeese!

Cheese is my downfall. Bleu d'Auvergne is a fave. Try some thinly shaved roast turkey with fig preserves and triple creme brie. It's a killer. I am a cheesoholic and I proudly admit it. There is no cheese too stinky, not one too runny, and none to grotesque to fail me yet.

 
At 4:03 PM, Blogger Sea said...

When I was in San Diego the other weekend we went to the BEST little marketplace with all kinds of artisan cheeses that they were all to happy to let us try. My favorite was something like tres leches- made from 3 different kinds of milk- cow, goat, and I think sheep. Mmmm. Another cheese was coated in super yummy rosemary- intense, gorgeous, so delicious.

I was trying to be all healthy and low cal but I'm going to eat some cheese now. (with an apple, or maybe some trader joe rice savory thins...)

Best,
B

Visit my gluten free blog at:
www.bookofyum.com

 
At 12:44 AM, Blogger Daniel B said...

I love your blog, particularly as a new Celiac....

My question is this: I had heard that all Bleus have gluten in them, as they are started by bread crumbs....

Do you know of some that aren't??? I miss Bleu more than you can imagine....

Thanks!


Daniel

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger Jean said...

I am old enough to remember a Saturday morning commercial with a dancing, cowboy hat wearing wedge of cheddar. I LOVE good cheese, it has always been one of my joys. Way back when, I was the Marketplace manager for Macy's Herald Square in Manhattan . The cheese delivery was always greeted with enthusiasm and lots of sampling even at 7am.
Thanks for the memory. We are lucky to have a new cheese shop here in Bellingham and I can't wait to go. It is called Quel Fromage.

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger Heather said...

I love love love cheese and probably eat too much of it--from plastic-wrapped monterey jack to Morbier and triple cream Brie. Is there anything so divine as finding a wonderful cheese and savoring ever bit of it, with a nice glass of wine? One of the great pleasures in life and one of the reasons I would find it very hard to be vegan.

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger Lindsey said...

haha, cheese-burglars!
gosh i love cheese. my sister once said if she had to choose just one food in the world to eat for the rest of her life, it'd be cheese. i don't know if i'd go that far, though it's an interesting - albeit traumatic - thing to think about! but i do love cheese. my favourite after-work snack of late has been little slivers of a strong cracker barrel on seaweed rice crackers. sounds yucky but it's delicious.

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger Zelda said...

CHEESE - how I love thee.... and how I destest the fact that we cant get unpasturised cheese here in Australia.
My weakness when travelling? Cheese stores - Neals Yard dairy in Covent Garden and the little cheesery off the royal mile in Edinburgh keep me in cheap(ish) dinners when I am in the UK.
As another wheat intolerant (we are hoping a year off the stuff means I can eat a little of it again, but until then its easier to to gluten free) I miss the slightly salty water crackers that generally go with cheese...what do you use?

 

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