I love cheese. It is simply one of the best things on earth to me. If you have a party and you don’t have some sort of cheese spread, I will judge you and assume you have no idea what you are doing. I’m not talking Kraft slices wrapped in cellophane or flour dusted shredded Sargento Mexican blend, I’m talking aged forever, sometimes gritty, burns-your-nostrils stinky good. Nothing could make me more happy than a finely aged Gorgonzola with jams, 10 year old mild cheddar, or a smoked Gouda so smokey it tastes like beef jerky. I haven’t met a cheese I didn’t like, but… I will say I have had a small problem with goat cheese for sometime. However, today is the day I write to let all of you know, my hate for the goaty byproduct is no longer. I’ve crossed over! I can hear some of my friends hoooorrrray-ing as I write this. It’s true! It all started a few months back while in class one day… A Garde Manage student dropped off some cheeses they had just made to sample. Being a culinary student, I had to taste. As I reluctantly scooped the small goat cheese portion into my mouth I became rather surprised. It didn’t have the piney gritty taste that I think was what threw me off the whole goat bandwagon in the first place. It was smooth and with no detection of a pine nut taste. It also had a saltier note to it, which I liked! Let me disclaim myself for saying “pine nut taste” I realize this is my own palate talking here. No one has ever been able to agree with me, (well maybe ONCE before), that I think goat cheese typically tastes gross and piney (some goat cheeses, to me, just do). After a few recent sampling’s and since that one day in class, I have come to know that not all goat cheeses are piney and thus my new revelation!
a little back story…
My love for cheese has some history, perhaps its even in my DNA! Mom’s been feeding me the stuff for as long as I can remember; it was always a part of my diet, because I’ve always had an aversion for milk. I need calcium you say! Alright, skip the milk Ma, I’ll have more cheese. Easy. It makes sense after all these years, that I’d have a long-lost family member in the cheese business for over 37 years (‘long-lost’ is a bit of an embellishment, my parents have always known him, I just haven’t and it makes this story better). We’ve now dubbed him “Uncle Kent”, but he’s actually my second cousin. 1st cousin to my pops, and son of my Grandpa’s brother. It was fitting last March, when my girlfriends, Laura, Rebecca and I went on a 10 day trip up the PCH. It was a girls getaway mystery tour as we planned to be in LA the first weekend and San Fran the following with no reservations, directions, or plans in between, we were as they say “on the open road”. It was suggested by my dad that we look up “Uncle” Kent. Back then he had a shop in Santa Barbara, so that was our first stop for cheesy bliss. It didn’t work out, he wasn’t at that location that day. His [attractive, surfer, burn out] shop employee told us he would give him the message that we came by and that we’d be heading to Carmel in the next day or two on our journey north.
We arrived in Carmel a few days later on a surprisingly cold day for late March. Upon tracking down the tucked away cheese shop and with only one foot in the door we were instantly filled with robust smells of divine cheeses. The kind of smell that only comes from a rooted foundation which The Cheese Shop has been building upon in Carmel since 1975. The walls the counters, the tables, shelves, you name it, nook or cranny, and all you see is cheese! “Is this heaven”, I wonder to myself. After introducing myself as a member of the famed Torrey Clan, their equally attractive, surfer dude, part educated cheese monger, minus the visible burnout symptoms, employee, is already carving off slices and talking family, our travels, small businesses, inbetween more cheese talk.
I think we were probably there for 45 minutes before we decided to shop around and wait for Kent to return later that afternoon. We were also stuffed to the brim with more cheese than is normal for the average 130lb girl.
Later that afternoon, we headed back to the Wine and Cheese Shop for one last attempt to meet my cousin. Success! He was there, long lost “Uncle Kent” had been found. What a delightful man! He was extremely warm and inviting, fitting the image that I have of all Torrey men- extremely nice and with bright blue eyes! Uncle Kent welcomed us all with hugs and laughter. We talked cheese, wine, our travels, family, and the love he has for what he does. This is a man who loves wine, cheese (obvioulsy), traveling the world, entertaining friends, guests and customers, his smile is warm and his words are as equally so. It was an inspiring visit, and a nice old nod to the family tree. It makes me realize that not only is cheese perhaps in my DNA, but that my love of food and the culinary world, definitely is too.
I highly recommend you check out Uncle Kent’s cheese shop @ http://www.thecheeseshopinc.com/ They have some truly fabulous stuff!
If you’re ever in the area, you can find them located @
Carmel Plaza (lower level)
Ocean and Junipero
Carmel, CA 93921
Hours: M-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5:30pm (PST)