stinky cheese

The Stinky Cheese Saga

by Anne Maxfield on September 21, 2015

Accidental Locavore PicoThe Accidental Locavore was lucky enough to get a couple of French chèvres to play with and write about for culture: the word on cheese. It seemed like a pretty reasonable deal: they send cheese, I eat it, create a recipe or two and then get more to give away – no big deal. But for some reason (oh, temperatures in the 90’s?) getting a couple of goat cheeses to Pleasant Valley ended up getting way more complicated than anyone could have anticipated.

The first shipment of crottins showed up on my doorstep a day after they were supposed to be delivered. What appeared to have been a lone ice pack was totally melted and not at all cold. Ditto the cheeses in an uninsulated box. While cheese at room temperature is always ideal, these seemed to have been roasted in their unprotected box.

The second box, also past due, had to be resent as the original supplier ran out. While I was out on the deck having lunch, the UPS guy stopped with what he thought was my delivery. He was banging around the back of the truck for a long time and finally emerged empty-handed. His best bet was that they’d tossed the box in another truck and he’d be back shortly. Not to be.

Accidental Locavore UPSI found a message on my phone from a Lisa at UPS. When I called her back, she told me that they’d kicked my box off the truck because it smelled terrible! However, Lisa being a fellow cheese lover (and really good customer service person – UPS take note!), rescued the box, opened it and realized that it was just some perfectly ripe Picos in a well-cooled box. I got the directions and headed over to the UPS office. There, next to the air conditioner (keeping it cool) was my box. And yes, it did have a wonderful cheesy odor to it.

We opened it and checked the cheeses, four little Pico’s and two still-cool ice packs. “They were going to damage it, which means they would have thrown it away,” Lisa told me, “but I kept telling everyone it just smelled like raclette.” “Did they know what raclette is?” “No!”

So, not only have I found a great customer service person at UPS, but another raclette fiend, actually a whole family of raclette lovers! Turns out they get a bunch of people together and hit Adam’s (the local specialty food store) up for a deal on a wheel of raclette. Something to look forward to this winter! Along with my card (for this future wheel of cheese), I gave Lisa one of the Picos, since it’s not very often you find someone passionate enough about cheese to give it a good home under the air conditioner!

Update: Leave a comment or share the post on Facebook and win a box of 5 French goat cheeses (exact cheeses to come) “so they can test, taste and create their own recipes. They will also receive a package with our tried and true recipes for inspiration, trivia cards on the cheeses so they can learn a little bit of history on French goat cheeses and temporary tattoos to show their Original Chèvre love. ” The winner will be picked on September 30th.





Why Do We Shop Where We Do?

by Anne Maxfield on January 24, 2011

Accidental Locavore Oakland Market

Why do we shop where we do, in certain stores no matter what? And why do we go out of our way to avoid shopping in other places, despite convenience? The other day, the Accidental Locavore was in Quattro’s the butcher up in the country (they also do the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturdays). I shop there because the butchers working there have taught me a lot about meat, choosing it and cooking it, and Paul, the most recent butcher, makes an amazing Italian sandwich, discovered by accident.

The other day, there were only women working there. I asked where Paul was and Joyce said “you haven’t been here in a while, have you? He left the week before Thanksgiving.” Which is a lousy time to loose a butcher. We started talking about how disappointed people were to find him gone, but how the new guy they had hired had come from a very upscale market nearby that had gone bankrupt, and had his own following.

Which got me to thinking, why do we shop where we do? I shop at Quattro’s because they raise their own chickens and other poultry, have good bacon, good meat, and in the days of Paul, made a great sandwich. And while they’re slicing meat, there’s always the chance to catch up on local news and gossip. How else do you know that a black bear from Connecticut got hit by a car near your house, or where Oprah was eating ice cream in Rhinebeck the weekend of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding?

In the city, the closest you get to those kind of conversations is at the greenmarkets. I was at our local greenmarket in Lincoln Center last week. In the middle of the winter, a few, very hardy vendors had set up shop. First up, local cheese, and the woman running Bobolink Dairy, was happy to feed me tastings of her various cheeses. We started to bond, when we decided it was never to early to eat stinky cheese. Her John-Louise cheese (named after John-Louis Palladin, how could you resist?) is a wonderful creamy, stinky cheese, great over a slice of rustic bread. She in turn, sent me to the guy across the way who had a lovely duck salami.

As much as Fresh Direct is great for all the stuff that’s too heavy to schlepp, and Whole Foods or Trader Joes, for everything else, I like have the interaction with the farmers, and vendors who really know their products, and take pride in sharing their knowledge and a little gossip. What about you, where do you shop and why?

Many thanks to Wendy Hanson for the great photos from the Oakland Farmers Market.


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