Unsurprisingly, a lot of people as me what my favourite cheese is. And just like asking a non-foodie what their favourite movie (Love Actually), song (Chandelier by Sia) or book (actually a hard one) is, I have a lot of trouble funnelling it down to a single piece of gooey goodness.
During my recent trip to New York
, taking our new cheese ‘Anthill’ to the New York Fancy Food Show – and maybe it was being in a new city, or the NY July 4th Heat – but I was immediately struck with inspiration! I remembered what my favourite cheese is.
But its not as simple as naming the cheese. I have to tell you a story:
It was 2009 and I was lost.
Aimlessly walking through a small town in outside Turin, Italy, I stumbled upon a local Buffalo Mozzarella factory. Peeking inside I witnessed a family of Italian cheesemakers quietly stretching Mozzarella by hand. I introduced myself (in broken Italian, which was actually probably Greek) as a cheesemaker from Australia and they took me around their factory. With cheesemaking skills passed down three generations, the factory began in the mid 1930s and has carried the tradition of stretching by hand ever since. As an artisan cheesemaker myself I was awestruck and inspired by their commitment to their craft.
But, more importantly…
Fifteen minutes later, I found myself with my bum planted on a dusty curb in rural Italy.
In my hands I held one warm large Mozzarella (I had watched it being stretched not ten minutes before). I had one large ox-heart tomato (red as the Queen of Hearts), and a freshly baked, crusty breadstick (which was also still warm on the inside).
I ate this unassuming trio with juices dripping down my chin, the tiny cars and donkeys and Italian locals passing me would have thought I was crazy, but I frankly didn’t care. This was a cheese experience that has been stamped in my sensory memory ever since.
With such a rich tapestry of cheeses across the world it is difficult to pinpoint the best cheese but for me cheese is inextricably linked to the experience. I have learnt that, with absolute certainty, there is complexity in simplicity.
So I guess I don’t really answer the question do I? My favourite cheese ever isn’t buffalo mozzarella, but in that moment, it was. I have had countless other cheese experiences that have had a lasting impact on me, reminding me why I love food, and most of all why I love cheese.
I’d love to hear your favourite cheese experiences! And keep an eye out for more of my cheese experiences too.