Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Harmon's Field Trip (Types of Cheese)

(Sorry I got you with your eyes closed, Tami)

There are a billion "Cheese for Dummies"-type books out there, teaching you how to taste cheese and pair it with wine and whatnot. We weren't really interested in becoming wine and cheese connoisseurs, but I did want to branch out a bit and learn about some cheeses we hadn't tried before, so I called Harmon's and asked if we could come in and talk to their cheesemonger. We arranged a time. But, when we got there, the lady I had talked to on the phone . . . wasn't there! And hadn't passed on the message to the other cheesemonger! Argh! It could have been really disappointing (like our other Harmon's field trips), but Tami, the cheesemonger (oh how I love that word) who WAS there, saved the day!!! Yes, the multiple exclamation points are necessary, because she was that awesome. Although unprepared for our visit, she spent the next hour with us, explaining where each cheese came from, how it was made, what made it different from other cheeses, what it would taste good with, etc. The children and I were all enthralled. Tami knows everything about cheese! And she was SO interesting to listen to. She kept telling us all these random facts (like, one of the big wheels of Parmesan-Reggiano costs $1500! And it only comes from one place in the world, where it's kept in this huge cave as big as a warehouse) that made us feel like we were True Cheese Insiders. We loved it!

The cheeses at the cheese counter are arranged in a certain order (basically, soft to firm to hard, with blue cheeses on one end) and Tami showed us how to figure out what cheese you might want to try based on what you are going to use it for. And then she picked out a huge selection for us to sample!
We tried:
  • Blue Stilton
  • Farmer's Cheese
  • White Stilton with blueberries
  • Sage Derby
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Smoked White Cheddar Curds
  • Poet's and Writers ("Oscar Wilde") Cheese
  • Merlot Bellavitano
  • Basque
  • Gruyere
  • Parmesan Crisps

Some of them were way outside what we had tried before (I never would have picked out the White Stilton with Blueberries, for example!) but we LOVED them. Each was interesting and delicious in its own way. It was cool to learn about the different ways of slicing and presenting each type of cheese, too. She had a great selection of knives and tools to show us!

Later that week we had a cheese-tasting dinner where we tried various cheeses we acquired on our several field trips. Delicious!

Anyway, we now love Tami so much. We think she is the best cheesemonger ever! We made her some lemon curd and went back to visit another day, and she gave us some curds to make our own fresh mozzarella, but that will be in another post.

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