Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Cheese Shopping

I guess you'd say I'm on a cheese kick. It started with reading about the Annual Festival of Cheeses to be held at the newly remodeled Ferry Building put on by the American Cheese Society. And yes, there really is an American Cheese Society. There are going to be several events but I decided to create my own event, consisting of visiting cheese shops and making purchases.

First stop was Leonard's 2001 Cheese Shop. Leonard's is just a few blocks from my house and they have a wonderful selection of cheese at reasonable prices. They had samples of a fabulous aged emmenthal with a nutty creamy flavor that completely won me over so I bought some. I also bought a piece of St Nectaire that comes from the Auvergne region of France. Since I'm partial to the songs of the Augvergne I figured, why not try their cheese? Finally I also bought a piece of feta, in hopes that the weather would warm up enough to make a Greek salad for dinner one night. As it is downright freezing in the City I may end up making a shrimp and feta stew instead.

Next stop was Artisan Cheese off of Fillmore street, they carry the local Cowgirl Creamery cheeses and a selection of other artisinal cheeses from around the globe. Lee and I tried several types of cheeses but settled on three. The first was Pau a slightly sweet, very ripe and piquant goat cheese from Catalonia, named for the cheese-maker's daughter. It won the "Outstanding cheese or dairy award" at the 2003 Fancy Food Show. We are still hoping to visit Catalonia but in the meantime the cheese will have to hold us over. The next cheese we bought was Cowgirl Creameries "signature cheese" the Mt. Tam, a very lovely triple cream cheese that is aged for 2-3 weeks; it is firm, yet buttery and smooth with a mellow, earthy flavor. We also got some of Cowgirl's fromage blanc. Fromage blanc is considered a staple of the French diet. Because it's made with whole milk instead of cream, fromage blanc contains 30% less fat than cream cheese and about 80% more flavor. It's a bit like cream cheese, a bit like ricotta and completely delicious, especially on toast with jam.

Finally we got some walnut crackers to go with the cheese. The motherload of cheese, the crackers and some fresh nectarines should make for a wonderful cheese course or light dinner with a green salad.