I attended a cheese class featuring seven European cheeses with unique wine pairings at Beacon Food Pantry earlier this month. I had heard how wonderful the classes have been and felt lucky to nab one of the last slots for the well-attended (22-seat) event. I sat amidst couples and small groups of family and friends who were ready for an educational, yet social, and what turned out to be a quite lovely evening. (I'd say there was a moment of spontaneous combustion occurring mid-cheese/wine #3 and #4!)
Clockwise from '12" at the top:
Valencay, Brie Fermier/Ile de France, St. Nectaire, Taleggio, Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar,
Parmigiano-Reggiano vs. Pecorino Romano Fulvi, and Cabrales
I learned how Beacon Pantry categorizes their cheese (e.g., fresh, bloomy, semi-soft, washed, firm, hard, and blue) and how to use these groupings to inform purchases (e.g., "I'd like a cow's milk semi-soft cheese a little bit of stink" or "I'd like a hard cheese that is grainy and not too salty.")
The best part of the evening was the banter occurring between Stacy (the owner) and her knowledgeable and comedic assistant whose commentary was informative and joy-filled. The second best was the flow of the tasting itself with its range of flavors and excellent pairings that led to a crescendo as the symphonic notes of the evening came to its stirring completion; I was left wanting more. Always a good sign that the palate, as well as the soul were nourished in such a 'cultured' environment.
At the end of the evening, the question of one's favorite of the seven diverse cheeses was posed. I re-framed the question to 'if I had to live with only one of these cheeses, which one would that be?' My personal choice would be the Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar from the United Kingdom, which I purchased with discount on my way out the door, and ate to my heart's content throughout the course of a week.
All types of classes and food presentations will be ongoing in the coming months at the Beacon Pantry: from butchering to meal prep to raw fish and kids' brunch, offered by the pantry's favorite foodies and experts from the Beacon Community. Check out the calendar.
Food for thought: With all this cheese on my mind, I recalled reading a NY Times bestseller, Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, written by Spencer Johnson in 1998. The premise of the book was anticipating how change, the kind of change which is out of one's control, impacts an individual and the kind of response it elicits. It reminds me of all the changes occurring now in Beacon that will continue as the weather gets warmer and more visitors descend on Main Street looking for parking, occupying favorite tables at the local restaurants, shopping in the diverse and unique boutiques, traversing the congested roads lined with hikers and eagerly exploring the new real estate market that is experiencing a mini-boom in a short span of time. In other words, a lot of change. A lot of change imposed on a community with one major road (Route 9D), dense housing, an old infrastructure, a school system fraught with recent upheavals, and a lot of beautiful open natural space that extends from the river, to the mountains and into the sky. It is a bit overwhelming to think of what this changing horizon might look like. It is reassuring to know that the Beacon community does not always want to be passively moved. As Pete would have us singing: 'just like a tree that's planted by the water, we shall not be moved."
Using the advice of Spencer Johnson, it might be helpful to remember:
Change Happens: they keep moving the cheese
Anticipate Change: get ready for the cheese to move
Monitor Change: smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
Adapt to Change Quickly: the quicker you let go of old cheese,
the sooner you can enjoy new cheese
Change: move with the cheese
Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy It Again: they keep moving the cheese
In the meantime, enjoy all the cheese
that you can taste and savor at Beacon Pantry!