Ok…time to get this blog moving again.  We’ll slip back in easy – noting too heady, but I’ve been ignoring the need to spread the goodness of cheese and after another weekend in NYC have decided that I need to get back on top of things.  Part of this is selfish.  The blog is a great way to keep my thoughts organized and to keep a record of all the great cheeses, cheese shops and cheese people I keep running into.

Before I beat a hasty retreat from Hurricane Sandy and hightailed it back to Toronto yesterday my friend Eleanor treated me to dinner at Fishtag (thanks Eleanor!). Great restaurant, great fish (try the smoked sablefish …) but also great cheese.  Some on their list are old classics but, like a lot of shops and restaurants across the US, they served a number of cheeses you just don’t find in Canada. I’m sure many of you are just as disturbed by this as I am, but every time I check out a good cheese shop in the US, I’m gripped by jealousy and rage – why can’t I find this selection in Toronto – dammit!?  Here are two for example:

1) Leonora – a wonderful not-too-goaty farmstead goat cheese from Castilla y Leon.   This cheese is created from a single herd of goats that give their milk to make lovely bricks of goodness.  Cut through the ash and natural mold rind and you reveal a lovely interior, soft and just under the rind leading to a flakey though creamy texture in the middle.  Granted this is a new cheese, first appearing on the scene in 2010 but is there really a good reason that we can’t find this in our shops?

2) Casatica a lovely melt in your mouth stracchino-style cheese from Lobardia.  It’s made from Buffalo milk and has a soft bloomy rind that protects the sweet, creamy delicacy of cheeses made from that fine beast.  You can get a fuller picture over at Micah Shull’s blog il formaggio e meravigioso

My first fling with Casatica was last year when I picked up a piece at the Bedford Cheese Shop in Williamsburg – hipster central in Brooklyn – and bought a nice big piece to feed to some hungry students at Columbia.    I’ve been hitting up the Bedford Cheese shop every time I get to NY and I’m continually surprised that it’s not on the list of hot cheese shops that pop up from time to time.  Could be that’s because you have to hop on the L train to get there, but it’s well worth the trip. For my cheese buck, it’s the best in spot in town these days.  An INCREDIBLE selection, a fun attitude that takes a poke at the increasingly elitist cheese world, and staff who know their stuff.  Every time I go in I have a great chat with the folk behind the counter and they’re in no rush to move me on.  Great cheese, great people.  Check it out.

Groaning shelf at the Bedford Cheese shop