Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The true strength of Roquefort

Back in good old SF and had to run to Bi-Rite to stock up on some California staples - lemon cucumbers, stone fruit, some gorgeous dry-farmed tomatoes (made delicious because they don't get wet and mushy tasting from over-irrigation.)

As I was checking out, I noticed some cheese samples behind the register waiting to be placed. Never one to pass up a free soupcon of flavor, I oh so subtly hinted to the man who was helping me that I might be interested in a taste, if it was no bother.

With no hesitation, he obliged, first handing me a very creamy, very lovely piece of brie. It was nice but gave me no pause in continuing the business of unloading my basket onto the counter. Then he handed me something else. I was paralyzed.

It was salty and creamy and just a little stinky. It had tiny little bits of blue that had an ever so grainy texture, making the silky smoothness of the surrounding cheese even more luxurious. I had to know more.

The man at the register had never tried it, so he sampled a piece, and now we were both in states of rapture. We needed to know what we'd just eaten and like a junky I needed to know how I could get some more. We discussed the texture, the flavor, the complexity of this cheese as we waited for the cheese caretaker, as they are known at Bi Rite, to return and enlighten us. The line behind me grew long and impatient, but I didn't care.

Finally, he was back with some answers. It was Roquefort and it cost $27.99 a pound.

And again I was paralyzed by this dazzling cheese. Sure the fortitude of flavor of this dazzling Roquefort had stunned me, but now the veritable barrier of its price would keep me from this new found high.

Well maybe.

"Do you think I could get a tiny little piece," I murmured.

The cheeseman looked at me, at my face, wan with need, and he handed me this...

Yep. Two dollars and eighty cents of the best that sheep have to offer.

I went home and offered Daniel his own little morsel. While he is not a great lover of cheeses of the blue variety, he gave it a try. First on a knife to sample it in its purest form and then spread on a piece of the Zomicks challah that we'd brought back to California. This was all he was allowed to have in one sitting.

While the mystery persists of why this Roquefort is so dazzling that it sends grown people into utter reverie, one thing is certain. Until we truly understand it's power, we will only sample it in tiny bites. Any more than that could send the body into a shock of the senses. (And be cost-prohibitive.)

No comments: