W0D5 The cheese stands alone.

First off, I have to start writing these things earlier in the evening. It is now 9:54. When I first sat down to write, it was 7:54. I really had nothing to write about. I thought about writing about my day, but nothing stood out: I got up, learned some programming stuff, headed downtown, ate a gyro, met one of my teaching teams and talked for 4 hours (we have to bond too, you know), went to the Union Square Farmers’ Market, and came home.

The highlight of the market was the stinky cheese I bought. I’m a big fan of the stinky, washed rind cheeses, which I first learned about at the Wadsworth Mansion Farmer’s Market, which is held in August each year. (YYYESSSSS!! I just checked, and I’ll be home in time for it! August 28th, this year.) Stinky cheeses are not for everyone, I must say. But, as a father and husband whose darling family eats all the regular cheese in the house, these are the way to go. They won’t touch them, so my stash is safe.

I’m talking washed rind cheese, a broad but distinctive category of gloriously stinky curd. The telltale signs include a moist or sticky exterior, some variety of reddish-orange rind, and profound aromas reminiscent of often-unmentionable things (sweaty feet and barnyard animals figure prominently). (link)

My first love is Drunken Hooligan from Cato Corner in Colchester, CT. However, I will buy stinky cheese wherever I can find it, because it is not typically sold in grocery stores. You don’t wrap this stuff in plastic. You can find cheeses like this sometimes at places like Whole Foods. I have yet to check Garden Gourmet Market, but must, since they have, by far, the largest selection of cheeses I’ve seen outside a cheese specialty store.

How I buy stinky cheese:

  1. Locate a cheese vendor at a farmers’ market
  2. Look for the tell tale signs of stinky cheese:
    1. Short lines (except Cato Corner – they always have a line for some reason)
    2. Clear plastic domes over the cheese
    3. No plastic wrap anywhere (waxed or foiled paper only). The cheeses need to breathe. They are alive for heaven’s sake.
    4. Cheese that looks dusty, discolored, weird, gross, and definitely not like something anyone would want to eat.
  3. Ask which is the stinkiest cheese.
  4. When they vendor offers a sample, I decline. I ALWAYS buy without tasting it. Jump in. Both feet. Full throttle.
  5. Buy a quarter pound (usually $6-$8 worth; stinky cheeses are labor intensive to produce)
  6. Eat about a third of it on the way home, especially if I have fruit or tomatoes. If there’s good bread, then it’s a sandwich. Holy cow. My mouth is watering right now.

Today I bought Drumm from Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse (this is so weird – Google just suggested that I replace “and” with “&” as I typed it in. Google: So useful. Big scary.) When I came home, I looked them up on the web, and I think I may start stalking them at Farmer’s Markets (Tomorrow they are at Tucker Square. Wait, what? No, no. I’m not stalking them. Really. Nothing to look at here. Move along. Move along.) I do love their philosophy, though.

We want to raise our children in a world where farming, and indeed all other human activity, is done thoughtfully and sustainably, with long-term well-being taking priority over immediate gain.

It’s enough to bring tears to my eyes. There’s more on their site, of course. Oh, and Drumm cheese?

One of our trademark cheeses, with a flavor that is complex and accessible. This Drumm is semi-soft, with a runny edge and a light texture. Excellent with fruits, pairs well with a variety of wines and ales … It is a medium sized wheel, and has a bit of soft-ripening going on around the edges, which gives it a slightly sunken-in look (and thus the name).

By saying “this Drumm”, they are telling us that the cheese comes out different every time. It depends on the season, the weather during that season, what the cows ate, how the cows are feeling. It’s a living thing – nature versus nurture. Different every time.

As I was saying, I had nothing to write about tonight, so I went for a walk around Jerome Park Reservoir. I got to wondering, is the Park named Jerome, or Jerome named Park? I know now, because I looked it up. However, that turned out to be its own rabbit hole, so I am going to save the story until I have a day where I hit writer’s block. I know it’ll happen, and it’s good to keep a couple of topics in reserve. If I write about it now, I’ll be up all night, and it’s already after 11. I will, however, mention some of the time sensitive things I noticed – things that won’t make sense if I save them until later.

First, mulberries. This is an underappreciated tree if there ever was one. Mulberries are delicious and in season right now. You can find mulberry trees by looking for the purple stains on the sidewalks underneath them, and in the daytime, the flocks of birds in them. Just listen. Didn’t I say that yesterday? Hmmm … maybe there’s a theme there. It’s part of a larger theme: if you are bored, you are not paying attention. There’s a ton of interesting stuff happening. Always. Sadly, most of the trees here are trimmed too high to eat the berries conveniently. I managed to get one anyway.

Second, fireflies. It took them a while to get their act together this year – almost two weeks late in Connecticut by my reckoning. There was a bunch of them in the fields around the reservoir tonight. “Hey baby, baby, baby!” That is what I imagine they are saying as they fly through the air, flashing away. (OK, DO NOT, research fireflies. A quote: “Target males are attracted to what appears to be a suitable mate, and are then eaten.” Only one species, but still.) I researched them to verify my recollection that female fireflies are flightless. I was close: this is true only for some species.

Third, fitness. The temperature was in the mid 80’s when I was walking around. A guy ran (I use that term loosely – it was a kind of fast shuffle) with his dog. They guy was wearing a heavy fleece sweater! Then I saw the next guy. Well, his silhouette really, it was getting dark, and he was back lit. He had a narrow waist and broad shoulders, and was running at a pretty good clip. And, it appeared as though he was wearing body armor. Not Under Armour, mind you, but body armor. As he got closer, it all made sense. No, no, it didn’t really. He was actually wearing a heavily weighted vest, with heavy objects in each of ten cylindrical pockets. I’m kind of glad he didn’t run into me. It would have been like getting hit by a Mack truck.

Fourth, I bought a hot dog from a food cart. They do place those in convenient locations, I must say. I had gotten a hankering for one about 5 minutes into my walk, but despaired because the neighborhood around here is pretty residential. However, there were some athletic fields on the other side of the reservoir and someone willing to sell me a hot dog. With everything? YES. Both feet. Full throttle. I don’t even know what was on it. It was dark. It tasted good, though.

There was more that happened, of course. There always is. But I must away ere break of day.

So, eventually, I made it home and ate my Drumm cheese paired with fresh Rainier cherries. Yum.

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