My boyfriend has always been interested in cheesemongering, because well, that’s the kind of guy he is. So for Christmas this year, I signed us up for a Cheese 101 class at Formaggio, the aged Gouda of cheese shops. Their classes are popular, so it wasn’t until last weekend that we finally secured a spot in the one-night session where we were admitted to the store after hours for a primer on cheese.
Tip: one should not go hungry to a cheese tasting, because it’s not, as we hoped, a smorgasbord of cheese, but a tasting, as the name implies. Frankly, I drifted off a few times while staring longingly at my cheese plate, a small saucer of four slivers of cheese. As I went to munch on one, the cheese guy must have read my mind; he cautioned against eating ahead, lest anyone be left cheeseless when he came around to discussing that variety. To reward myself for such restraint (I’m not gonna lie; I wanted to reach into that cheese case and gnaw on a hunk of cheddar), I bought an interesting looking chocolate bar by the Mast Brothers of Brooklyn (with fleur de sel…mmm) and a nice portion of a fancy goat cheese. Still not sure if the goat cheese was amazing or if it just felt that way because I was starving. I must have been starving because even the description of the cheese as being coated in vegetable ash didn’t deter me. And it was pretty delicious even at home.
In addition to learning about the history of cheese (developed by accident), we got to peek inside the cheese cave beneath Formaggio where I must admit, the dense presence of so many stinky cheese wheels was overpowering; I fled upstairs into the brightly lit store where the pretty cheeses sat smartly in the glass case adorned with little signs, declaring themselves to be from all over the world.