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Friday, April 04, 2008

The Best Cheese... Part 2, and My Manifesto

Well, after all that, my local cheese shop decided to carry Jasper Hill's Winnimere, or "Winnie," as cheesemaker Mateo Kehler called it in response to an email I wrote to him asking where I can find it.

Now I can't say whether my email to Mr. Kehler had anything to do with the store carrying the cheese.

And I can't say whether my ordering a wheel for myself had anything to do with the store carrying the cheese.

But when my cheese order finally came in, the department manager said he also ordered a few wheels for the counter.

I was very happy to pick up that sweet, little 3/4-lb stinker.

Problem was, I had just brought back another wheel from Zabar's... Oh well. That just meant I had to invite more friends over to help me eat the cheese. I also delivered a half-wheel to my dear friend Laura, as she has been a big influence in my culinary development, and she was there with me when I was a novice cheesemonger.

"Those were the dayyyyys!"

I'm not certain the aforementioned store had much success in selling those few wheels of "Winnie." The staff knew nothing about them, the wheels stayed wrapped in their original paper (not a bad thing, per se, but not great when there's no info on the labels), and each wheel cost just under twenty bucks. That's a lot of money to ask someone to pay for a mystery cheese.

My standards are high when it comes to cheese departments. I ran my own cheese department way back when. I've worked at a few of the finest cheese counters in the country, and done plenty of training of cheesemongers at those same counters.

I'll admit it: I take it personally when cheese is being neglected. Love and effort and resources went into making those fine little wheels. It's wasteful to not give them their due, which in this case, is making sure someone will eat them and love them.

Yes, I take this rather seriously.

This is why I do what I do: consult with those who run cheese counters and shops. I do it to earn part of my living, but I also do it because there's a lot of work that needs to be done out there to get the beautiful cheeses to the people.

I mean no slight against the person who runs my local cheese department. Most managers, including him, are up to their necks in ordering, scheduling employees, dealing with the store's upper management, trying to stay within budget, etc. I know how hard it is to keep it all together, let alone keep on top of new and exciting cheeses.

So I'm here in my Cheese Cave, as it were, waiting for the Cheese Signal to appear in the sky, via the telephone, or in my email's inbox. Then in I swoop, ready to help the cheese department manager in distress.

All in a day's work for The Cheese Snob.


dairyprincess said...

As a small farmstead cheese producer, may I express my gratitude for your cheese snobbery? :) We recently received a small shipment of returned cheese because the counter manager thought it went bad, but instead found that the whole wheels had just been wrapped in plastic wrap for who knows how long! All it took was a little cleaning up and those puppies were good as gold. :) Just like you said, we know it's not the manager's fault, and we also feel a twinge of regret that we didn't take the time (in between cheesemaking, milking and self-promotion) to educate them on the proper handling of the cheese. So, from a West Coast cheesemeister, THANKS for the fabulous job you do!

Laura Austan said...

And may I say what a fabulous little stinker that cheese was! I ate the hell outta that, right to the rind, and scratched about looking for more... nothing left but a lingering odor, teasing me.

awesomecity said...

i just snatched up three cases of Winnimere, plus we have Forsterkase and Blau Geiss finally in!!! spread the word so i can keep selling great cheeses at peak quality. come on, wendy, come and buy some from me!!!!! if not i will save some for us on our trip to chicago!!!!! xo


Wendy M. Levy said...

Hi Mandy Cheesemeister Dairy Princess,

Well shucks, thanks for the accolades! I may have to lead potential clients to your comment :-)

Yes, there's a lot of education that needs to happen out there. Cheesemakers - especially artisan cheesemakers like you - have little time to do it, too.

That's why everyone needs to hire ME.

I just read the "About Me" section of your blogger profile. I love it! Congrats on your success. If you're at the ACS Convention in July, I would love to meet you.

-Wendy, The Cheese Snob

Wendy M. Levy said...

Hi Laura,

Well, if Brian still has some nice wheels in a few weeks when I'm down in NYC, you may have some new lingering odors emanating from MORE WINNIMERE!

Glad you liked the fromage.

-Mrs. Levi

Wendy M. Levy said...

Hi Brian,

Mmm... you got the good cheese! I'm glad your corporate behemoth bosses are allowing you to stock the Good Stuff.

Hey, I'm taking the Amtrak from NYC to Chicago for the ACS Convention. It would be cool if you traveled with me and brought some cheese for the ride, to "prime the pump" as it were, for the Big Cheese Event.

Thanks for commenting!


dairyprincess said...

Hi Wendy,
Wish we could make it to ACS; maybe next year. I'm still trying to get my foothold on all this cheesemaking / dairy managing stuff. But yes, it would be great to meet you someday! Until then, I supposed linking to the caseophile on my blog and catching up on your cheese snobbery will have to do. :)