My Favorite Meal
My favorite meal in this world is a simple one, and one my wife and I engage in on regular basis: Two or three fine cheeses, good crusty french bread, a lump of very good, fresh butter, and a bottle of wine. I’ve never met a wine lover who did not have a near reverence for the pairing of wine and cheese. And how could I. The two are of the same type. The best of each reflect a region, they reflect a culture and when paired together correctly can offer up a revelatory experience.
The San Francisco Chronicle gets this. Each week, in their fabulous "Wine Section" on Thursday, the Chronicle prints Janet Fetcher’s "The Cheese Course" columns. It’s revealing that this column on fine cheeses from around the world is printed in the Wine Section, rather than in the Wednesday Food Section.
While it’s not necessary to have an education in cheese to enjoy the varied types any more than it is necessary to have an education in wine to enjoy a glass, understanding the history of a cheese, how a cheese is made, and what one can expect from a younger or better aged cheese certainly heightens the experience. This is exactly what Fletcher gives us each Thursday in the Chronicle.
Now although I am not positive about this, I’d be willing to bet that Fletcher’s cheese column is likely on of no more than two or three such regular columns on cheese run in America’s newspapers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the only one. Luckily for you, an archive of these columns can be found on the Internet.
Each week Fletcher takes on one cheese. We learn of it’s geographic origin, who it is made, any regulations associated with it’s production. We learn something of the history of its production. Fletcher almost always tells us what the weight of a wheel of the cheese will weigh and the shape it will take. We learn what to expect from the cheese in its youth and its age. And of course, she normally gives us a hint as to which wine to pair with the cheese.
If you live in an area where the the best selection of cheese is found in the grocery store and the best you can do is a "domestic gruyere" then you are likely to read Fletcher’s column as nothing more than a tease. In fact, if you don’t have access to a store that provides a great selection of cheese from around the world, you may be better off avoiding Fletcher’s "The Cheese Course" column all together.
But for those of you without a good resource for great cheeses yet still wanting to indulge your mind and palate in cheese, I off the following links: