Happy Cheese Lover’s Day! (There are food “days” for every day of the year now, I think. But this looks official enough for me.)
I did a little research in the name of spreading the good cheesy word — you can go learn about some of Ottawa’s top cheese authorities and their favourite cheeses over at Ottawa Magazine.
It was fun (and so informative!) to meet Erin Harris, the Cheese Poet, and Dave Neil, co-owner of The Piggy Market, and to chat with them together. They went to school together in Toronto and staged in Italy, but it wasn’t until Erin went in to the Piggy Market and recognized Dave that they started collaborating on tutored cheese tastings. Their passion for cheese and exposing consumers to great local products was contagious — I’m looking forward to one of those classes!
The good folk at Serious Cheese really did take the occasion seriously; after I chatted with manager Jamie Nadon for the article, they decided that they would celebrate today with a little tasting of cheeses paired with local sodas and the cracking of a three year old wheel (45 kg!) of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Apparently, at traditional wheel crackings in Europe, the mayor or other dignitaries are typically invited, and given the freshest piece of cheese from the centre of the wheel. Our gathering was quite a bit smaller than that, and with less pomp, but it was very tasty and very neat to see that wheel cracked in half (it looked like a pretty good work out, too!).
I’m thinking that my calendar will soon be filled with “cheese lover day” repeatedly…
A few cheesy tidbits I picked up for the perfect cheese board:
- Always choose an odd number of cheeses: three or five is best so as to offer different options, but to avoid overwhelming you palate.
- Go with a theme or eschew one all together. For example, you could go with three sheep’s milk cheeses, or feature three different milks. Play with contrasting textures, styles, origins, strength, etc…
- Taste from the mildest to the strongest: to really taste each cheese, start with the less agressive ones and let your palate work its way up.
- Experiment with add-ons and pairings: condiments, pickled goods, charcuterie, fruit, wine, beer, the list goes on an on. Find out what pairing complement each other.
- …there are no rules. Enjoy!