Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Learning can be fun!

The Fancy Food Show wrapped up today. I spent a good portion of the show exploring the world of European cheeses. I walked miles, up and down the aisles looking (and sampling) eight different types of Parmiggiano Reggiano. I also studied a variety of cheeses from France, Spain, Germany, Holland, England, and Greece. Whew! It was a lot of work, but somehow I managed to pull it off. I had to pace myself, so I didn't get palatte burn-out.

I strolled down aisles full of booths displaying their brightly packaged products. Anything and everything was available to taste. I had some Tuna Poke on a crispy wafer (excellent) to start my lunch plate. Then I moved onto a shrimp ball and crab puff (just o.k.). I then tried some cappuccino goat milk ice cream from Petaluma (LaLoo's, also delicious). I made my way over to the Cheeseworks booth and proceeded to snack my way around the display table. They distribute a wide variety of Domestic and European artisan cheeses, as well as cured meats, salami, crackers, jams and things I just glossed over. I was all over the cheese. They import stuff that Cowgirl doesn't carry.

My first stop was the Spanish corner of the booth. A nice couple who work for an exporter in Madrid proceded to walk me through the six cheeses in front of them. They were very proud of their Majorero cheese, a semi firm goat cheese rubbed with paprika from the Canary Islands on the island of Fuerteventura. As they said, "It is from the Islands, not the Peninsula." Peninsula? Oh, yeah. Spain IS a peninsula. A very large dangly bit that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean. I enjoyed a Torta de Cesar, a smooth and creamy sheep's milk cheese that's made with a thistle "rennet." It just dissolved on my tongue and spread joy through out my body. A garrotxa was available. It was a bit softer that the garrotxa that Cowgirl sells. Still tasty, just a bit less complex.

Other hightlights from the show: All of the cured meats from Europe. I just can't get enough of them. The vast variety of Italian cheeses to examine and sample were almost overwhelming. I loved the varieties of tea available to taste and cleanse my palatte. There was a tall vase full of black and white truffles on display. Yes, they were real. I sniffed them. I'd say there were at least $4000 in truffles piled high. Apparently, the rep was freely handing out truffles to his clients and friends. Oh my! I wish I had been around to see that.

My plan paid off. I ignored all things chocolate, baked, and non-cheese or meat related. I did quench my thirst with a nice bit of Pomme Lambic, a margarita from Tommy's on Geary Street, as well as some fine teas from around the world. Gotta stay hydrated after eating all that cheese and cured meat.

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