I don’t eat a lot of cheese, and indeed, I don’t cook very much with it. It was only around 20 years ago that I started to learn to eat cheese. Cheese really isn’t part of our diet.
I remember my first exposure to cheese being one of two ways: either the Kraft singles in a sandwich, or a small block of cheese on a toothpick together with some ham and pineapple. Now that is very seventies. Shows you how old I am, or how good my memory is, or both. Anyway, any of these two methods of eating cheese means you are really not exposed to anything decent. Commercial cheese was a bit ….. tangy and sticks in your mouth.
I first tasted cheese – other than the above methods – in Australia. I suppose I was at a party, or gathering. There was a cheese platter there and I was looking at either the Camembert or Brie. For some reason I was convinced to give it a go. “Okay …. but surely you wouldn’t eat the skin?” she says as she cuts away the rind of the Camembert. “Eeew, you do?” Anyway, I learned to give that up. And so, began my cheese journey. It didn’t go very far. I pretty much stayed with Camembert or Brie (supermarket quality) tasting other cheeses that others buy from time to time, enjoying it but not knowing very much about it.
To be honest, I’d only been in a cheese shop only a couple of times before. I went once to the Simon Johnson shop on Harris Street, Pyrmont – love that place especially at Christmas time. The second time was in France. But then I wasn’t going to buy there, given that the amount of French I speak was “un” or “deux”, with the raising of the appropriate amount of fingers.
Yesterday, we traipsed off to the Teddington Cheese Shop on Hill Rise Road in Richmond. I’d passed it many a time on my way into town. Must stop there, but I never did. Don’t know too much about cheese, you see. But we were watching an episode of Jamie Oliver (our favourite chef) from the Oliver’s Twist series and he did a whole thing in cheese. He was talking about soft cheeses, hard cheeses, English cheeses, French cheeses, make your own cheeses etc etc. I guess, if there was anything we learned, ask the guy in the cheese shop what to buy. Also, Jamie did this great thing with wrapping goats cheese with pancetta and baking it in the oven. When it came out, it was all gooey and soft. Looked great!
The guy at the cheese shop was very helpful. After telling him what we’d like, he started giving us small samples. I’m not into blue cheeses, but he gave us a very mild blue cheese which was very nice, though the blue bits were still very strong. There were cheeses there that looked so mouldy that my instinct would be to throw it into the bin, rather than put it in my mouth. Anyway, we traipsed out of there with our cheese and a little wiser, armed with quince jam and cheese biscuits and ready for the party at our friends place.