“Puits d’Astier,” Rocco whispered. It sounded like a new frangrance. Pwee d’awz-tee-eh. And it might as well be. Since Saturday, I’ve been patting Puits d’Astier on the insides of my wrists, and wherever I go in the world I leave the aroma of sweet sheep’s milk and hazelnuts. It’s true. Riders of SEPTA, Philadelphia’s public transit system, know me and thank me. Expect men who peddle scented oils from duffle bags to pursue you with bottles of faux Puits d’Astier soon.
March brings the Flower Show to Philadelphia, and with this year’s “British Landscapes” it seems only proper to offer you a selection of Britain’s best wedges. Should you overdose on the smell of hyacinths, you may wish to pop into Di Bruno Bros. for a sniff and nibble. (Di Bruno Bros. will be a vendor at the show, but the flagship store at 18th and Chestnut is within walking distance.)
Nothing puts me in the mood for love like mushrooms. I know, I know – they’re a far cry from oysters or caviar, but aphrodisiacs rely on individual appeal and I happen to be mad for forest smells: wet earth, moss, the vaguely cabbage-y smell of tree rot. These are what led me to a special Valentine’s Day threesome: roasted mushrooms stuffed with Nancy’s Camembert and a spot of Brussels sprout relish.
If you’re working on your resolutions, allow me to weigh in. There’s never been a better time to explore American cheese, and with the bounty available to you from small artisans it’s high time to move beyond Cheddar and Brie. In the spirit of newness, here are five types of American cheese to try in 2013.
If you find yourself heading to a swish party without a holiday sweater, you can always make up for it with a wedge of Rogue River Blue. It’s the elusive wedge everyone’s been looking for since it won the coveted “Best of Show” award from the American Cheese Society last year. Now it’s in season, just in time to nuzzle pears and sidle up to your most intoxicating eau de vie.
Remember this: birds migrate in the fall, and so do great cheeses. The holiday season draws rare imports, and you can count on cheese shop shelves to be bountiful and bright. If you’re a caseophile, now is a great time to look to the sky and ask yourself, “What amazing cheese is in store for me tonight?”
Dear Pepper Jack Lovers, let me bend your ear. I know that you get the fever this time of year – when the Crock-Pot comes out, you want your game-day dairy hotness. I’m only going to tell you this once: there are 3 spicy condiments that you can pair with sharp cheese, and they’re way better than pepperjack. Yeah, go ahead and breathe. It’s hard to hear.
A few weeks ago, my friend Mike Geno received an 18-pound wheel of Grand Cru Gruyère from Wisconsin in the mail. The American Cheese Society (ACS) had commissioned him to paint a series of award-winning cheeses, but after he finished the portrait, he was left to scratch his head. What does one do with a whole wheel of Gruyère? Of course, I got a call.