People, we already know I’m a bonafide caseophile (thanks for the word, Mo!). But it dawned on me this morning, as I ran into the market before dropping Abby at school, that even living life as a poor student, I opt to spend my meager budget on things others might find superfluous. I bought Abby some butternut squash soup, fine cheese for me, and a small bunch of tulips for our souls.
When I got home I was distracted, but when I finally got around to unpacking the groceries, I realized my bouquet of cheese made me easily as happy as my bouquet of tulips. And I love tulips. Today in my cheese basket (and I really do have a linen-lined wicker basket in my fridge in which I keep all my treasured cheese-that little flippy door -thing or the drawer are just not good enough for a raw French washed rind lavender, or a true Cottswald Stilton.) what was I saying? Oh yeah- today in my basket:
- Boursin. A staple, and I have to hide it from Abby or she will eat the whole thing. Herb and garlic soft French cheese.
- Cottswald Cheddar- not to be confused with the divine Stilton. Cottswald cheddar is made in the same region, but not a blue, and very mild and soft. A young-ish cheese, excellent with a cured sausage or apple slices.
- Jasper Hill Raw Oma- a stinky little cheese, and a new player in the basket. We’ll see how this goes.
- Raclette- excellent melting cheese from France again. Slightly pungent- a good gateway cheese if you’re timid.
- Aged Gouda- a completely different cheese than a young Gouda- it’s sharp and crystallized and very similar to Regianno, the undisputed king of cheese. I will eat this forever. Also similar to Vela Dry Jack.
- Myzithra- a hard, white greek cheese. Salty and somewhat akin to feta. Some people have only experienced this tossed with brown butter at The Spaghetti Factory. It’s good that way- buy some and give it a try.
- Chevre- basic young soft goat cheese. Slightly pungent- mild. Use it on everything from roasted veggies to fried eggs to arugula salad greens. A perennial favorite.
- Cotija- very similar to feta, only drier- Mexican cheese, fantastic on all latin foods calling for cheese- once you try it, you’ll never go back to pre-shredded jack and cheddar.
- Ricotta Salata- a firmer ricotta that can be grated. Very mild and kids like it.
- Bleu d’Avergne- a fine stinky blue veined French masterpiece. Don’t start here, but if you dig blues, have it with some almonds and maybe a very tart apple, and die happy.
- Fontina- a great Italian melting cheese. Good to just eat, or melt divinely into whatever italian thing you’re making.
- Cream cheese- it’s Philly today, but if I could find Gina Marie, that’s my CC of choice.
- Tillamook Slices- for the kids. I know. But at least its not pre-wrapped american cheese…
- Grated Regianno/Romanno blend- yes, its better to buy it in whole hunks, but it’s also a budget killer, so when I find it cheap at Trader Joes, I buy the already-grated. Kids love it.
- Beechers Curds- snack food extraordinaire. Jeffrey jumps for joy when the market has these.
- Colston Bassett Stilton- the finest blue on the planet.
Also in the basket, but not cheese:
- Kerrygold Irish butter- yes, it really is that much better. Thick, unctuous, sweet, spectacular- I don’t use this for baking or cooking, but for spreading on things when you really want to taste fine butter.
- Calabrese Salame- yum!
- Pancetta- for getting many a dish started with gusto and pig fat- without the smokiness of bacon.
- Apple cured thick-cut peppered bacon- well, because you can never be without bacon.
I just want to encourage you to get out there and try something new. There is a whole world of tastes and divine things to experience outside the big-box markets… it doesn’t have to be cheese- but my challenge for this year (not a resolution, mind you!) is to just push your own experiences a little further. Think outside the safe and familiar and give yourself a chance to find the extraordinary. Maybe it’s a fine cheese, or a new flower in your garden, or being more daring with your eyeliner… I don’t know. But do something new and fun, and see where it takes you.
For me? I started school again this week, which is why I’ve been so absent. I’ve already dropped and added two new classes and think it’s finally settled. Taking my first grad-level courses, despite not being done with my bachelors yet- and I’ve made the Dean’s List for the second straight quarter with a 4.0 gpa. Life is good. Go buy some cheese.