Skip to content

How Cheese Came Into My Life: In Which We are Introduced to Cheese Girl

July 11, 2009

If it’s Saturday, it must be time for another part in what seems to be a never-ending saga of my love affair with cheese.

If you are reading this, it is either by accident and you haven’t read the past three posts where I talked about my fussy childhood, college and post college experiences with cheese.  Or you did read those and are just a glutton for punishment.

Today we may very well inspire you to seek out a local cheesemonger again.  Or at the very least reconsider what kind of comestibles you serve at cocktail parties.

After college, my lifelong friend ADS was responsible for my relocation to the Bay Area.  We were living with two other friends in what we affectionately called the Whodilly House.  We all had different roles.

I took responsibility for the bar.  My goal was to assemble a bar broad enough that when guests came into the house, we could have the following exchange:

Fussy:  Come in, what can I get you to drink?
Guest:  Well, what do you have?
Fussy:  Everything.  What would you like?

Raf was our master chef and keeper of all the knives and cookware.  You may remember he had a cast iron skillet, but he also owned some serious cutlery.

ADS was the cruise director.  He would come home with bread and cheese so that the whole clan could hang out before dinner.  He would bring these back from our local cheesemonger, who affectionately became known as Cheese Girl.

Everything he would bring back was delicious, and I ate it with pleasure and gratitude.  But I had yet to be bitten by the cheese bug.  All the same, I was incredibly impressed with one particular story ADS told about an early experience with Cheese Girl.

Let me back up for just a moment.  Once my bar achieved its goal, I grew tired of its constant maintenance, so we decided to have a party to drink through it.  ADS went to the Pasta Shop at Market Hall, which was later to become my favorite cheese counter.  He spoke to Cheese Girl about finding the perfect cheese for the party.  Here is my memory of their exchange.

ADS:     We’re having a cocktail party.  Do you have any thoughts on cheeses?
CG:     What kind of drinks are you planning to serve?
ADS:      Frozen, fruity girl-drink-drunk drinks.
CG:     [Thinks for a moment] I have just the thing for you.

And she brings ADS to the Boerenkaas, a 4-year aged Gouda.  Not the smoked nonsense you see in the grocery store.  This is the real deal.  It has been called “the Gouda the Dutch save for themselves.”

It’s a hard cheese, redolent of nuts and butterscotch.  And what was amazing about the cheese was its depth of flavor and sweetness were both enough to overcome the frozen palates from the crushed ice and the fruitiness of the cocktails.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Steve Jenkins has this to say on the matter in his book the Cheese Primer (p. 449):

“I sense a complexity of flavors, the first of which reminds me of nuts and perhaps olives.  But on the back of my tongue I pick up the sweetness and fruitiness, which when I exhale through my nose, brings out the perfume of the milk, the grass, and the soil… It has a perfumy, piquant sharpness that is very satisfying with sweet, fruit-based drinks.”

[Fussy note: I love this man.  And I love his book.]

Before that day, I never would have believed that anything you could eat or drink could be expertly paired with a complementary cheese.  But now my eyes were opened.

This established Cheese Girl as a brilliant and trusted advisor to the Whodilly House, and made the cheese counter a less terrifying place for me.  If Cheese Girl was receptive to such a frivolous task, and responded thoughtfully with a perfect recommendation, certainly she could help me navigate the case to find something delicious.

And she would.  But before she does, my Nana has something to say.

Next week.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: