Saturday, February 25, 2012


Fairway Market has a vast array of cheeses. What I love about Fairway is that they have two areas of cheese, one of which is already packages and just across are loads for you to be able to taste before you buy. If you're not sure of what ilk of cheese you want, the person behind the counter will give you suggestions if you give some palate taste, which animal (cow, sheep, or goat)and perhaps the use. You're looking at hard cheeses for grating, firm for slicing up or melting, and soft cheeses that you may want to spread on a cracker.

I do not know cheese. I grew up on either slices of "American Cheese", which is now considered to be a "cheese food" and the grilled or mac and cheese option of Velveta...another "cheese food". Over the years I have tasted many, going to Cabot Creamery in Vermont for various cheddars, and to an Italian market for mozzarella and the grating kind, since cheese is sprinkled on so many Italian dishes.

Steve Jenkins is the Cheesemonger for all of the Fairway Markets. I have yet to meet and interview him. What I wanted to see is whether the employees who work behind the counter in Douglaston were knowledgeable. Each time I've been to that Fairway I would go to the counter and ask for recommendations and taste.

Gary is the Cheesemonger at the Douglaston store. I asked for a Mac and Cheese suggestion and rather than just one cheese, he pulled these four: Cantal – French Semi-Hard Cow’s Milk;Delice Du Jura – French Soft Cow’s Milk;Swiss Gruyere Switzerland Hard Cow’s Milk; and Australian Cheddar – England Hard Cow’s Milk. I got the mouth sense of how the combination would fall. I made the Mac and Cheese for dinner to find out if Gary was "on the money"...he certainly was! One great thing about this is that I can freeze the leftovers as you basically can't freeze cheese.

There was one day that I requested a cheese tasting of one's made from Sheep's Milk. Jose offered: 16 Month Aged Manchego, from Spain; Moliterno With Truffles, from Italy; Queso Idiazabal, from Spain; and Prince De Claverolle, from France.

I caught Jose another day, saying that I was having a cheese tasting at home.
Vento D’Estate, cow's milk from Italy; Rustico With Lemon, sheep's milk from Italy;
Pyrenees Bethmale, cow's milk from France; President Wisconsin Brie, cow's milk from the USA; Drunken Goat, from Spain; Moulis Brebis, sheep's milk from France; and Idiazabal, sheep's milk from Spain

Back to shop, Rich was helping me with some dessert cheeses: Ricotta With Lemon (tastes like having a lemon cheesecake without flour), and English Sticky Toffee. I passed on the obvious soft cheeses with fruit.

I called back one day to ask about cheese life, speaking with Lillian. Waxed paper or aluminum foil will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks, which is why they use the paper when you're getting it from the counter. If you obtain cheese that is pre-packaged, unless you intend to eat it soon, remove it from the plastic wrap and re-wrap. Hard cheeses, especially ones that are aged for over more than about 15 months, will last a lot longer in the frig.

I certainly can't leave out Cosmo who makes the mozzarella. Fresh is best. Slice it up with the kumato tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil or balsamic vinegar.

As for the cheese tasting. I did this with two others each having a different palate. We used sesame crackers and apple wine, first tasting it plain. All were great, some better than others regarding my palate.

I had gone online to see what was on sale, or as they call it, "Price Shockers". Eye round roast, $4.99 lb. I had the butcher pull one and slice up for steak portions to freeze. He even repacked it so that I could just toss the whole thing into the freezer.

Best bargain is when they have the ready cooked chickens for $4.99 and they are certainly not puny ones. Plain, herbed, bbq, etc. This day there was a sign that said that for $5.99 you can bring the chicken to the deli counter and get two sides. Descent variety to choose from. My problem is that garlic is used in so many of their cookings...I'm just not a fan of that spicing.

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