Thursday, July 7, 2011

Substitute Cheesemonger

A number of months ago, I interviewed for a full-time cheesemongering position at a local shop that will remain nameless (but which I have boycotted ever since they didn't bother to call and let me know whether or not I got the job -- jerks). But today I got to flex my dairy selling muscles as a pinch-hitter for Keswick Creamery at the White House farmers' market. The Pennsylvania-based dairy has some top-notch stuff, so with a little advice from Allison and I helping folks to select the right cheese for their needs, it practically sold itself.

Sure, it was hot as heck today, but we hid in the shade of the tent with the cheeses on ice, and as I did my best to mask the fact that I was standing in a pool of my own sweat I advised folks as best I could. Oh, you're making an omelet with spinach and tomato? Well, I'd advise the Herbed Feta. Taste. Taste. Sweat. Taste. Drink water. Smile. Hmm, now you say you're looking for something mild and spreadable? I'd recommend the plain Bovre. Yes, it's a pasteurized cow's milk cheese, but similar to chevre. Well, it's made with a yoghurt culture, so it's just a little bit tangy. Taste. Drink water. Taste. Sweat. Smile. Oh, you like spicy? Well, try the Dragon's Breath. Oh, just you wait, tough guy, the burn will sneak up on you. Mmm hmmm. See? Drink water. Sweat. Smile. Well, lucky you, you've bought the last Quark. Did you try it with the cherry almond jam? Yes, it's delicious. And the gentleman a few tents down is selling it, so you can recreate this taste in your very own home. I daresay we did rather well, Allison and I.

Let me tell you, it is crucial to taste all of the cheese to be a well-informed cheesemonger. In any case, I learned quite a bit about Dutch and German cheeses during the 4-hour shift, and met all kinds of characters. One of the bonuses of working at farmers' markets, I'm finding, is the camaraderie among vendors who cheerfully share their wares, and we feasted on not only cheese samples but also sweet plums from the Toigo Orchards' stand on our right, crusty french bread from the Panorama Bakery stand on our left, and a delectable cilantro and sweet corn pizza from the Red Zebra stand across the way. Yum. (If only I'd thought to put cilantro on pizza! Brilliant!) I'm just bummed that I forgot to buy a pint of Keswick's luscious chocolate pudding, especially with the 25% vendor discount. Doh. Ah, well, I'm still pretty well fed for the evening.

Oh my, it looks like it's time to get ready for bed. I have to get up at a reasonable hour to teach a cooking class to a group of teenagers out at the Lederer Youth Garden tomorrow and something tells me I'm going to need my rest....

Oh, and that picture? That's my fearless co-saleswoman, Allison. See, now don't you suddently have an irresistible desire to buy a jar of savory, marinated feta (with garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaf) for the low, low price of $6?

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