There's a new category here at Lemon Tart - Cheese. I'm not sure why its taken me so long to feature a food that I am so passionate about. From my humble middle class roots of cheddar and mozzarella in the cheese bin, through to the finest cheese carts of France, I am constantly on the search for great cheese. Some might consider this passion to border on obsessive, but I'm okay with that.
While there might have been a time in my life where I toyed with veganism, cheese would have proved my downfall. Early on, I'll thank my mother for instilling in me an appreciation for the sharpest cheddars, a rarity in friends refrigerators at that time. This taste prepared me for the big, strong cheeses I favour.
Cheese experiences of my youth included summers spent in Salmon Arm, BC where my friend's family would buy large wheels of locally made aged Gouda, which became an instant favourite of mine and I still snap up whenever I come across it. As a teen, my best friends' German heritage introduced me to Havarti - known as "breakfast cheese" in her family - and a strange but alluring tradition of cheese at breakfast. Of course I've since jumped on that breakfast cheese bandwagon on my travels since. A school tour of the Armstrong cheese factory when it was indeed made in Armstrong BC, remains a clear childhood memory, where we snacked on cheese curds and saw how, almost magically, those orange blocks were created. Fast forward to a closet sized cheese shop in Vancouver many years ago with limited knowledge of the world of cheese, where with each visit I would declare "three new ones please". Cheese by cheese I learned more about what I liked and didn't, guided by fantastic professionals. Then, in 2005, I set foot for the first time in a Fromagerie in Paris, where I was speechless and overwhelmed, and felt like I had just come home. Next came one in Dijon, then Avignon, and many more since. Those heavenly Fromageries with cheeses so beautifully displayed on wooden shelves, void of plastic wrap, staffed always by the loveliest people, is where my education truly began, and continues to.
Each Christmas I await, with anticipation, the arrival of the first of the Vacherin Mont D'Or. This is a winter cheese available from about November to end of March - a perfect New Years treat! By surprise I recently happened upon a few wheels unexpectedly on the bottom shelf at my local cheesemonger, still in fantastic shape. I snapped it up, eager for one last Mont D' Or fix. The last one got gobbled up before I would even consider getting the camera out, so this was a big bonus in March.