Friday, February 23, 2007

Cheese Lovers of the World Unite!

Okay, maybe not the world, but cheese lovers of New York City unite!
Welcome to the Joy of Cheese blog.
For those of you new to this, The Joy of Cheese is my roving cheese party business. Since May 2005, I've gone to homes from Park Slope to East Brunswick holding cheese tastings. And since May of 2006, I've held monthly tastings at 10 Degrees, the wine and high end spirits bar in the East Village at 121 St. Mark's Place.
To bring cheese to the people!
There's more truly great cheese available to the Gotham public now than ever before, yet the gap between the people interested in that cheese and the cheese itself has never been greater. Routine specialty food retailers like Fairway, Citerella, Zabar's, Garden of Eden, Gourmet Garage, etc., carry a small--very small--fraction of these cheeses if they carry any at all. Unless you frequent a select handful of places like The Bedford Cheese Shop (where I work on weekends), Murray's, Artisanal, Stinky Bklyn, Saxelby Cheesemongers or Formaggio Essex, you might never encounter some of the great culinary wonders.

But why?
Well, I've worked in and around specialty cheese since 1984, with a prominent gap from the mid '90s until 2003, and when I returned I wanted to find a way of working in this business without doing the 60-hour a week retail hell that I'd endured in the late '80s and early '90s. The Joy of Cheese was just such a vehicle. I enjoy talking to people about cheese. This is a way to do it and have them have fun while they listen.

Okay, but what is a Joy of Cheese tasting?
It involves 8-10 cheeses within a theme, fruit, dark chocolate, and two mystery cheeses (no I'm not asking people to sample a cheese then stand up and say "oh, why that's Ticklemore, a firm chevre from Devon England" or "oh, that's the Tuma Persa from Sicily." More power to you if you can identify those cheeses, but mostly the mystery cheese is a way see if you're paying attention to what your palate is telling you. The cheese will always reference a type of milk or a cheesemaking tradition from earlier in the tasting.
Anyway, there's an introductory cheese, followed by a flight of three cheeses, fruit and a mystery cheese, another flight, more fruit and another mystery cheese, another flight and dark chocolate to finish. During the tasting, I'll talk--have you noticed I'm kinda wordy--about each cheese and I'm happy to field questions about cheeses from fat content to the politics of pasteurization.
Even I have fun, though I'm ready to keep quiet for the rest of the night by the time the tasting is over.

See other posts for tasting schedule.


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