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.
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.