It’s Friday the 6th so next Friday will be the 13th but it already seems bad. Poison gas has been used in Syria, Obama wants to bomb, Congress probably won’t vote to support it, the rest of the world does not want to act but expects us to act so they can diss us.
Obama and Putin are in St. Petersburg for a meeting of the G20. Obama needs help. Here’s how it could go.
Obama and Putin walk into a bar and sit down. The bartender gives Putin vodka without asking. If he gave Putin a, say, pina colada, the poor man would be on the next bus to Siberia. “What do you want, sir?” the bartender asks Obama. “I’ll have your best Russian cheese,” he says with a straight face. Putin chokes on his vodka. Obama smiles. When was the last time the poor man could do that?
What country makes the best cheese? I know, this would start a bar fight. Italians will rise vociferously. The French know they are entitled to the title. Australians and New Zealanders can ask for high ranking. Germans can ask for forgiveness and offer beer with their cheese offerings.
None of them have a chance. The United States makes the best cheeses in the world. In terms of the breadth of our offerings and the quality. Part of this is size. We are a big country, with hundreds of microclimates. Take Cheddar. There’s Vermont, Upstate New York, Wisconsin, and Tillamook, Oregon that can offer world-class products.
It’s not just the microclimates now and the grasses, it’s the people involved. There are new books each month about the artisan cheeses and cheese makers of here and there across the country. You’ll find people making cheeses in small batches — five gallons — and nurturing every ounce of product they lovingly craft.
Which leaves you and me with one problem: feeling overwhelmed. How to pick and choose when confronted with a hundred varieties stacked against each other. When we enter a new cheese store, how do Suzen and I evaluate the store in terms of quality. What’s an easy way to know the store is intelligently and thoughtfully stocked.
We look to see if the store has products from the producers we consider the best. Do they have anything from Neal’s Yard in Great Britain? And I do mean “anything” because every cheese stamped Neal’s Yard is a delight.
Does the store have anything from Cowgirl Creamery, certainly California’s best cheese maker, and maybe the country’s if you love soft cheese. Their top seller is Mt. Tam, in honor of the nearby peak Mt. Tamalpais north of San Francisco. But if you can ever buy their Red Hawk, muscle your way to counter, push anyone else aside, and guard your purchase until you are home with a superior bottle of wine. It’ll bring tears to your eyes. Nothing can match it.
Or so Suzen and I thought. We have found a cheese maker, Lazy Lady Farm, from Vermont that is the East Coast equivalent of Cowgirl Creamery. We tried The Thin Red Line, thinking it seemed to look a bit like Red Hawk. We looked, we tried, we cried. Thin Red is a world class cheese, impeccably smooth and with waves of flavor that relax you like a yoga class. Lazy Lady makes around 20 different cheeses, mostly goat but some cow and a few with both. Their packaging, a sample is pictured above, is “classic small farm cheese.” That packaging does not pop out at you, so scan that store array of cheeses carefully, or ask that friendly face behind the counter. I’m certain that you’ll find the cheeses from Lazy Lady Farm to be exceptional and they deserve your patronage.
In the interests of world peace, I’m contacting Lazy Lady and asking them to send Putin a round or two. He’s so volatile that it might start a cheese war, but that’s fine. We’ll win.
Don’t stop enjoying Cowgirl Creamery. This is surely a case of 1 + 1 = 3. Here are links to the websites: