Last night at Delfina I sat by myself at the counter and made a new friend: mezzano, a playful mix of cow and goat milks. It's from Friuli, one of those Italian mountain areas, and it tastes the way you would expect—like cows and goats grazing on tender grass at a high altitude, surrounded by rocky outcroppings. It's tangy and creamy, yet has a strong, rugged character, just like a mountain range. You taste it and you think of Giorgione's shepherd, standing watch over the storm. It's not unlike a mancheog; Delfina served it with quince paste. It's the kind of cheese that makes you glad you're sitting at the counter, just you and mezzano, rather than sitting at the table next to you, where the man keeps stroking his goatee as he bores his companions.
This run kicks my ass. Almost every time, I experience infernal cardio and quad pain during the climb from the Stanford Ave entrance. The best stretch of the run is immediately after this climb — it's an S‑shaped quarter-mile heading due west (usually into the wind) and it provides a great view of the dish against the coastal range. But I'm usually fighting to catch my breath during this stretch, and spend most of it just trying to keep my shit together. This particular run was okay … I keep thinking that I'll get back to the good old days when I regularly clocked sub-50-minutes on this run. But I'm a long, long way from that right now. I ride my bike more. I run hills more. But can it be that I'm just not as fit as I was in those lovely, peaceful days of July 2002? I will remember July of 2002 as a series of quiet evening runs through the Stanford campus, punctuated by blissfully fast, fast times. Ah, to be young(er). Simpler times. Simpler, faster times.
Rainbow's genius little description of the FPS — "This cheese is mentioned in every cheese book from the 70's" — doesn't mention ONE relatively important quality of it — the fact that it has almost no taste, and the taste that it does have IS GROSS. Its "mildness" reminds me a little of, say, fresh mozerella, but it has this weird, red-wine‑y bite that does not make you say mmm. Plus, it has a paste-like texture that lends itself neither to spreading, nor to slicing; so, if you buy any FPS, remember to get some tongue depressors to apply it to your cracker. Of course, you could also put on your Foster Grants and your chunky turtleneck sweater and go back in time — back to the time when books were written about cheese. It's up to you.
When talking about cheese it is hard not to keep bringing up the French, but we must give credit where credit is due. Not only do the French have their official 360 cheeses but they also have an infinite number of ideas about what to do with cheese. One of the best uses of cheese is in something called aligot, a dish found in the Aubrac region of the Cevennes—there's something about mountains that brings up cheese genius. Mountains are like the Silicon Valley of the cheese world—home to entrepreneurs and visionaries, people not afraid to experiment. In any case, aligot features a nice mountain cheese called cantal. Essentially it's mashed potatoes with cheese, but it tastes like so much more than that. Perhaps because the recipe calls for stirring the cheese into the potatoes continuously for 40 minutes in the same direction, so as not to break the strings of cheese. Aligot is great to eat on a cold day. It is not so great to eat right before climbing a very big hill on a bicycle.
The Cottage Cheese Song (sing to the tune of Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead): small curd, large curd, medium curd. low fat, non fat, full fat. with pineapple, with hamburger, with wheat germ It's a versatile, hard-working cheese that doesn't put on airs. Once relegated to the "dieter's plate", it has steadily gained widespread acceptance as a dairy treat for people from all walks of life. Brands to watch: Knudsen's, Horizon Organic, Light n' Lively. Bonus quality: comes in highly portable plastic tubs and can be eaten with a spoon or straw (small curd only).
I would like to draw your attention to a little-known (outside the Jura-Massif) cheese called comte (but of course it is pronounced cone-tay, just because the French can't let a consonant be a consonant). Like many mountain cheeses from that area of the world, it resembles a gruyere—a little nutty, a little creamy, a little tiny bit salty. Once I had it in a little restaurant in France near the Swiss border, and i said "ah tres bon!" or something along those lines, and the French woman who served it to us said "Les vaches! Les montagnes!"and she was right, the cows and the mountains made it good. When you ride a bike around there, there are all these cows grazing on the hillsides, wearing big bells that make this lovely hollow ringing sound. It is the sound of cheese in the making. You can get it at the cheese store in Noe Valley where they are so mean and unpleasant (except on Tuesdays when my friend Arzu works there.) I'm going to put in an order and we can all enjoy it together. Perhaps in the mountains.
hey you guys: Who do you think would win in a rumble between Bi-Rite employees and Rainbow employees? They could meet down at the docks. No knives or chains allowed. I think the Bi-Rite employees might be stronger than Rainbow employees, because Bi-Rite employees probably eat more meat and have more muscle mass than Rainbow employees. I bet Bi-Rite employees panic easily though. Rainbow employees would probably coat their bodies with patchouli oil, which would make them slippery and hard to punch.
Cheese. ('chEz), noun, a food consisting of the coagulated, compressed, and usually ripened curd of milk separated from the whey.
Douglas, I notice that you are a repeat toothpick user. At the Bi-rite these days, they have taken to putting out cheese samples at the most popular time for shoppers. From about 5:30 on, there are delightful little ramekins full of little bites of cheese—midnight moon, piave, vella mezzo, pecorino with truffles, sareanah farmstead, reggiano. the dry cheese section of the bi-rite is the perfect place to end an early evening run. if you are sweaty and bright red in the face, no one else will even come near the cheese samples and you can easily eat the whole little dish of queso iberico, using only one toothpick. and sometimes, in the refrigerated section, they have a little plate of crackers spread with a luscious dollop of Humboldt Fog, a delicious aged goat cheese that while having a creamy texture, is decidedly not a cream cheese.
words that rhyme with queso: 1. peso. 2. i can't think of anything else. words that sort of rhyme with queso: 1. miso. tasty soup from japan. 2. cuomo. mario: former governor of new york. andrew: former secretary of HUD. once considered one of the most eligible bachelors inside the beltway, andrew was sometimes called "Secretary of Stud". he has since lost his looks. 3. duomo. a pretty renaissancey type cathedral from olden times in florence, italy. being in italy makes you realize how pretty Catholicism can be. 4. brass‑o. household product for making brass shiny. do not inhale! 5. ho-ho. hostess dessert product made with chocolate cakey type components. i think. 6. koko. cute gorilla who learned sign language and befriended a grey kitten. the grey kitten got killed by a car, and koko had to sign things like "koko sad kitten go bye bye", which was sad. 7. lesotho. according to the CIA World Fact Book 2002, "an enclave of South Africa about the size of Maryland". 8. greedo. tried to kill Han Solo in that inter-galactic watering hole where they played the kookie music. i love that music! 9. momo. a rather bland variety of Tibetan dumplings. bored now. L to the K A