The Stinky Cheese Chick
June 14, 2004

My recap of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is up at Television without Pity. Writing that piece with Glark was way too much fun. Sure, it took us seven months but still, fun was had. Look for some more Original Series and The Next Generation recaps later this summer. And my winning Bonny Doon entry is up on their site -- it's called "A Corkless Carol" and they left the period off my final sentence. Most likely because they were wine-goggled.

It's been nearly four months since I started at Ye Stanke Cheese Shoppe and lo and behold, I have ascended to the next level of cheesemongery. Do you remember when I yearned to recognize the cheeses just by checking out their rinds? No? Didn't I mention how awed I was by that feat? Well. Okay, I guess the punch might be lessened after all this build-up, but I can now pick up a lost cheese, take a quick dekko at its rind, and put it back in its home on the barge or the reach-in. Oh, but the REACH-IN! The reach-in has all these blues with rinds that either aren't really there or aren't readable, so, get this: I can now tell the difference between Gorgonzola Dolce and Stilton or Bleu d'Auvergne from Bayley Hazen all based on the size of the blue holes or lines, the shade of blue (they range from cobalt to green), or how white the cheese is. I'm pretty proud of that.

My wrapping has grown by sheafs and rounds as well. I can now deftly origami up a slimy but sublime wedge of Irish Ardrahan while telling a customer what it is about the cow's milk that makes the paste of the cheese chalky white or mellow yellow (hint: it has to do with what the cows are eating and in what season). I'm still not always able to eyeball and cut cheeses to an exact weight measure, but I'm getting much closer. Whenever I hit that 0.25 lb mark on the scale -- for that seems to be the most elusive of all measurements -- I do a little dance and have so named it the Jarlesburg Jig after first discarding the Fromage Foxtrot and the Wensleydale Waltz because they didn't fully realize my Gruyère glee. I can't promise I will ever stop with those names.

We finally got in some of that luscious chestnut honey from Forever Cheese in these adorable little Winnie the Pooh terra cotta jugs, so the other night I brought home a slab of Gorgonzola Piccante along with my very own Winnie the Pooh terra cotta jug and introduced Dr. Mathra to a special part of gormand heaven. Recently, a secretary in Dr. Mathra's department gave us a loaf of very unique German bread called Vollkornbrot ("black bread" or "full corn"). She's been in the math department for over forty years and this is the bread she used to eat in Germany during the war. But it's good! "Yes, it vas the var, but ve still ate vell!" It's very dark, very dense, and since it's so filled with all sort of nuts, seeds, and oats, it's also gotta be really, REALLY good for you. The pumpernickel flour imparts a fairly strong taste and we discovered that pairing it with the incomparable and already strong Red Hawk wasn't the ideal match. The two flavors vie for ultimate tongue attention and in the end, your mouth just gets so tired out that it gives up. However, I had the idea of doing up a piece of the bread with a little smear of Gorgonzola Piccante (strong, yes, but more toward the nutty side of things) and a drizzle of honey. Damn, can I call them or what? The sweetness of the honey tempered the slight sourness of the black bread, but it also managed to accentuate that sourness in a very tasty way. The Gorgonzola Piccante is spicy and earthy and provides a perfect creamy layer between the chestnut honey and the black bread.

Black Mission Figs are starting to appear in the Farmer's Market, and while they're not exactly at their fullest flavor and really won't be until August or September, they sure make for a nice snack at the cheese counter when you split one open and stuff it with a small scoop of chèvre or Gorgonzola Dolce. Man, I'm just dying for August and September when the figs, tomatoes, corn, and peaches come into their full blush -- I am already composing recipes. Tonight we had to settle for bay shrimps and glistening pink wedges of grapefruit stuffed into buttery avocados and served over mâche drizzled with a citrus vinaigrette.

We're not really complaining.

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