How do I love cheese? Let me count the ways - or, rather, the varieties. Soft, hard, old, young, mild, wild, stinky, raw; you name it, chances are I've tried it and loved it. But, as I realized recently, even though my passion for cheese borders on obsession, I really don't know much about it. So I decided to learn more and share the experience here. What better way to kick off my brand-new adventure series, I figured, than an exploration into all things cheese?
First step: with the help of a brilliant new website called Course Horse, I enrolled in Cheese 101, an introductory course held at Manhattan's famed Murray's Cheese Shop (New Yorkers, I highly recommend Course Horse - it makes signing up for classes in the city so easy and convenient. You can search by interest, location, price, age - it's really fantastic).
I recruited my friends, Stephania and Davey, (pictured below) as partners-in-crime, and on a brisk Sunday afternoon, we joined a handful of fellow dairy connoisseurs for ninety minutes of cheese-filled fun.
Upstairs at Murray's West Village headquarters, each student was given a board loaded with an eclectic array of of cheeses, a pamphlet for note-taking, and a seemingly bottomless wine glass. Under the guidance of our very knowledgeable teacher, Sydney, we tasted, touched, and sniffed our way through the basics of cheese. It was a lovely way to spend an evening - and I can't wait to try this class next.
A few days later, inspired by my newfound knowledge, I decided to take a stab at making cheese from scratch, and chose this ricotta recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I assumed the process would be complicated. In reality, it was nearly foolproof. What's more, I splurged on top-quality milk and cream, and still, the ingredients set me back less than $10 (the cheesecloth was given to me for free by my local butcher).
The process was a quick one, too. I put the ingredients on to boil at noon, and by two o'clock, I had a warm, gorgeous-smelling bowl of fluffy, decadent ricotta.
Cheese lover that I am, I wondered, what's taken me so long to try this?
Voila! Success. Looking forward to the next adventure...
First photo via Brooklyn Brewery. (Know who took it? Please let me know so I can give proper credit!) The rest by me.