Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wake Up and Smell the (Rancid) Roses

It’s time to reveal a secret. In primary school, I always had crushes on the weird boys. The shy viola enthusiast with the triple-barrelled South African surname; the clinically unattractive boy in year three who helped me win a state-wide French Olympiad but who had unusually wide, child-bearing hips and corrective eyewear; the boy who told me that if he had girls as children he would cry because boys are just so much better (actually he was a 18 year old man that I made out with in a skeezy bar, but he was still a dud) – it was a veritable roll-call of poindexters who were not exactly plucked from the high boughs of the social tree. You knew who those boys were. After all, you never saw Lisa Meanhair hanging out with boys who wore wrist guards in co-ed Division Five Netball.

As with boys, so with cheese. I have an uncanny ability to pick out the craziest, funkiest and health-department-contrabandiest cheeses in any store and bring them home to meet mum and dad. Today was no different.

When I pick out a small piece of cheese with “Tallegio” on the label, I expect a creamy Italian number that would go down well with a nice chianti.

Instead, I brought home a cheese that smells like roses…and not in the good way. It smells like the rancid leavings of the rose bush that used to shed its petals in the midsummer sun behind the school gym in primary school – petals that decomposed on the scorched bricks during the day, and at night mixed in with the heady aroma of Impulse Perfection body spray and Lynx Regret while you kissed Joost van der Velt de Vere before returning to the school dance. Soundtrack? Informer, by Snow.

This time the bad choices didn’t rest with you telling your friends that you broke up with Joost because he tried to hold your hand. The bad choice was opting for an adolescent tallegio that was going through some serious changes and taking on a musky scent of its own.

But if you get over the smell of this particular cheese, (just as you got over Ed’s corrective eyewear and Charles’ insolent comments about girls not being able to play tennis) there is something charming at its heart. Creamy, with a touch of saltiness that is offset nicely by a glass of red, this is a cheese complex enough to be enjoyed on its own. Just like the lyrics of Snow.

So although it smells like hell and may leave you with a bitter aftertaste (just like the break up with Joost, rendered in biting green text on the cold screen of a ICQ chat window) this is the kind of cheese you look back on with fondness. If for no other reason than it helps you to slowly work your way to finding The One when you’re all grown up.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Work-appropriate Cheese

There’s always someone in the workplace who wears inappropriate clothing. Her name is Jasynta, and her daily garb will normally include a variation of distressed denim jeans with sub-cheek derriere ripping and a low slung Sass & Bide singlet with contrasting bra (you trend-setters think this is cool, but it's not...and your bra is ugly).

The question of work-appropriate attire is as old as the workplace itself, and if I understand the film 9 to 5 correctly (which, I’m sure, I do) then appearing at work is all about rocking a stylish shirt-dress and showing the boss that he can’t push you around, no matter how fab your perm is.

But today we gather to talk about a very different matter indeed – workplace cheese.

Last week, I visited a local deli on my way to work and picked up a copy of The Cheese Mag (more on that in my next post) and a wedge of pungent Comte-style Le Ceviste de Scey. 

I won’t go into the details of just what this cheese smells like, but suffice to scey its pungent stench is more of a knockout than Dolly Parton’s character in 9 to 5, Doralee Rhodes.

No matter, I thought. I’ll just take it along to work. I’ll buy myself some crackers and enjoy a little nibble for morning tea!

Ahhh there’s the rub. To enjoy this cheese, I would need to eat it standing up in the kitchen like some sort of hind-legged sow, with my little trotters vainly attempting to grasp the biscuits without looking foolish. (For some reason, this conjures an image of the tightly-timed lunch breaks at my old workplace).

Or, I’d need to eat it at my desk. So I brought it back to Auxiliary Cubicle 2B (my loving name for my desk) and discretely pecked away.

My workmates are accustomed to seeing me eat a snack at elevensies, but they were notably silent on this day. I am a cheese lover and I was acutely aware that it was borderline too stinky for me (of course it wasn’t, that was a test, I love all cheese).

But the awkward desk stink did remind me of another situation at my old workplace, when a co-worker took off her shoes and our office accountant leaped up with his head over the cubicle divider and exclaimed, “What is that smell? It smells like something has crawled up into the air conditioning units and died there!”

To avoid this situation in the future I have two lessons that we can learn:
1. Future desk cheeses will either be of the un-aged cheddar or mild brie variety.
2. Don’t ever take off your shoes at work. They smell like sweat cauldrons and you know it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Down in the Cheese District, on Third

I was at the Good Food & Wine show this morning. While I didn’t get to try any food (alas there for work reasons), I did stumble upon this delightful signage.

I want to go to there...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You can't spell “fun” without a little ewe

There are some things that just shouldn’t be: 6am yogilates classes, bacon-flavoured ice cream, and double denim (or as I call it, the Canadian tuxedo).

Burtnee and Jaytee in their special outdoors clothin'.

Until today, there was another item on this list – sheep’s milk cheese.

Now I’m not claiming to be some kind of expert (of course I am! This blog is nothing BUT unfounded assertions of fromage knowlage), but I’m pretty sure cheese is made from cow’s milk, right? That’s if it doesn’t come out of an aerosol can, partially hydrogenated and mixed with the delightfully acrid stench of fake ham flavouring.

Ha! Just kidding.

But sheep’s milk cheese? How does one even milk a sheep? I imagine it’s like visiting the Big Merino in Goulburn – at the end of the day you end up feeling tired, ashamed and covered in lanolin.

Following the announcement a few weeks ago that I had to cut down all cheese except sheep’s milk cheese and ricotta (seriously?), I figured I should try it out. Sure, the last time I went to the Big Merino I ended up getting lost inside before emerging dehydrated and covered in fibreglass splinters, but really, that’s pretty much what happens any time I visit an exciting tourist attraction (cf. Space Mountain, 1996).

So I bought myself a piece of D’Affinois Ewe’s Milk Cheese. ($149 per kilo? Who am I, Gloria Vanderbilt?)

And the flavour...

Colour me pleasantly surprised!

It’s a little more sour-salty than goat’s cheese, but it has a milder taste – one that I sense would be more accessible for newcomers than goat’s cheese. For many, goat’s cheese assaults the palate with a flavour that says, “We raised this kid on nought but whiskey and tales of Scottish independence, and now she bears a cheese as strong as William Wallace…and twice as peaty!”

The best thing about this cheese is that its flavours are complemented and enhanced by a glass of wine. For this evening, I have chosen a fine February vintage and it works marvellously with my D’Affinois.

You know what? This cheese may be strange but, just like the Big Merino, it has a place in the great scheme of things.

Just like that old Goulburn landmark, it’s full of surprises. It reminds us of the importance of the humble sheep in our great agriculinary heritage, and it smells just a little bit like a disused shearing shed full of Scottish secessionists.

Fun fact: The Big Merino is affectionately known as Rambo.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tastes like... tenuous links

On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a casual meet up with a group of Sydney-based food bloggers for burgers, story-telling and the kind of quiet eyeing up that people do in new situations where they don’t know anyone. (Oooh, I like her camera/nail polish/dress/food blog/life philosophy etc).

We went to Moo Gourmet Burgers in Newtown where we were shown a simply marvellous time. Seriously, props to the team at Moo – not only did they treat us well (champagne on arrival anyone?) and give us name tags, goodie bags and a courtyard to ourselves, but their burgers were seriously sensational.

After much deliberation, I opted for a cheeseburger. Because I write a cheese blog. Get it? Honestly, keep up guys.

I also opted for additional jalapenos on the burger which was possible the BEST DECISION OF THE DAY. Not only did it taste awesome, but it reminded me that while writing about a cheeseburger on a cheese blog is tenuous, it’s nowhere near as dicey as being reminded that you should really share your recipe for jalapeno poppers. 

Don’t know what they are? Well, stay tuned for the next blog post my pretties. All will become clear.

In the meantime, take a look at the following blogs if you’ve got a spare moment – all painstakingly managed by the lovely people I met on Sunday.

Blog name
Blog URL
The Adventures of Miss Piggy
Food Scene Investigation: Sydney
Sydney: Feed Me
84th & 3rd
Love Swah
The Sticky and Sweet
Flick Your Food
The Creamy Middles
Just One More Spoon
Corridor Kitchen
I Can't Believe It's Not A Food Blog
Food is our Religion
Cats Love Cooking
nic cooks
adobo down under
Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)!
Roaming Tales
The Pickled Cumquat
Fork It Food Blog

Yeah, we all got matching friendship bracelets.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Agent Orange

If there’s one thing that I love, it’s getting out of Sydney and enjoying cheese, in situ, at various locations around Australia and the world.

Last year, when I went to Paris and promised to cram you full of cheese blog posts like proverbial chestnuts in the squirrel cheeks of life, I truly disappointed you. I’d like to say it was because I got to Paris and it turned out their cheeses were really lame. But that would be a lie.

The real reason was that I was hit with a giddying bout of food poisoning on my flight, and had what shall hereafter be known only by its elusive epithet – the Tokyo Stopover. Please note that I also intend this to be the title of my first break-out Glam Hair Metal album.

But I digress.

Last weekend I went to a wonderful little town known as Orange, about 3 hours west of Sydney where they were hosting the Food of Orange District festival, also known as the F.O.O.D. Festival (hey guys, let’s be fair, country folks prefer the simple things in life – like the smell of a wheat harvest and outrageously contrived backcronyms).

Despite the fact that I’ve been visiting Orange for nigh on a quart-score (country talk for 5 years), I’ve never been to the F.O.O.D Festival, and I loved it! Some may say it was because of the night markets, complete with several glasses of Black Shiraz from Mortimers Wines. Some may say it’s because of the
 pâté I bought at the produce markets (which-i-totally-didn’t-eat-before-now-and-I-can-produce-a-photo-of-it-whenever-I-want-cause-it’s-delicious-and-uneaten). Some may say it’s the delightful dinner we had at the Racine Restaurant for a friend’s engagement.

There’s no one correct answer (B: Claire had one tub of pâté, and ate one tub of pâté far too quickly. Using the working space below, how many regrets does Claire have?)

Herewith, an image gallery of fun things in Orange.

"Borry" selling apples from Borrodell Vineyard.

Best friends 4 eva at the petting zoo.

Did I say the last one was my best friend? Ohhhh, that cute cow can cram it, because now I found THESE three! On closer inspection, the first one was a lamb, not a baby goat, but that doesn't mean she should be voted out of the group. She just wants to go to year 6 camp like the rest of you, and she promises not to tell Jess what you said behind the play equipment the other day.

Without baby goats, there would be no goat's cheese. I ate some of this delicious cheese (the one on the left, with the pesto) and it was truly amazing. 

I had it in a quinoa and roast lamb salad, with mung beans and cherry tomatoes. A nice tart flavour, without being too strong or goaty - a serious consideration when it comes to goat's cheese. I think it would work beautifully on pizzas, on crackers, in salads or just squirreled away in your cheeks for an after-dinner snack. 

I give the cheese 8 spuds.

And speaking of spuds...

...The potato stall. The man who ran this stall actually looked like a potato. But there was no way to take a photo without looking like a jerk from the big smoke. So I just photographed his delicious earth jewels and ran away.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I can't live, if living is without cheese

Can I suggest you play the following music while you read this? Cause this blog is about to get real.

Ever since I was young, I’ve been a “no sugar” kid. Not by choice, and not as an exhaustive rule (I’m sorry, have you even Cadbury Cream Eggs? They’re made from unicorn smiles! They should be eaten all the time).

As a result of this, cheese has always been my go-to at dessert time. You get to enjoy something delicious, you still have a plate in front of you while others enjoy dessert (so you don’t look like an abstemious poindexter) and you get to enjoy a delightfully bourgeois rite of passage:

“Jenkins! Pass the cheese and my favourite Chateau de Pique! Would you fancy taking a turn across the room and a brief Quadrille?”

Precisely! Cheese = winning at life.

But herein lies the problem. I went back to visit the very same doctor that told me all those years ago that I would no longer be able to eat sugar. It was a check up of sorts. I was happy. He was happy. The whole situation was fine (apart from overly-loud 1987 documentary on “Ayers Rock” showing in the waiting room).

But then it all went downhill. He looked me in the eyes and said to me “It’s only fair that I should let you know what you should know.”

(He didn’t, it just fits in neatly with the song playing on your computer right now. He actually said something along the lines of, “So I went through your bloodwork and there were some issues. You’re going to have to make a few dietary changes”...)

He told me the impossible.

[Wait here until chorus].

No more cheese.

No more creamy brie, no more Roaring Forties Blue, no more Ceviste de Scey and (I choked up a little here) no more goat’s cheese. The smellier the cheese, the more I had to give it up.

Doctor Zhivag-no then told me it was okay, because I could manage without cheese.

You know what?! No!

I can’t live, if living is without cheese! What’s the point?

From now on, I’ll try to bring you all I know about the cheeses I can eat. Ricotta (Really? REALLY? A clotted sandwich salve at best), firm un-aged cheddar and Sheep’s Milk cheese. But dear reader, I shall become an expert. I shall forge on and triumph!

If you have any suggestions on cheeses to try, let me know. Suggested coping mechanisms also welcome, but unfortunately alcohol is supposedly off the list too. Unless you count Scotch that has been bottled in the last 4 years.