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Posts Tagged ‘pleasure’

A ripe, runny Camembert. At iGourmet.com.

I discovered the best place in Israel to buy cheese.  Shockingly enough, it’s in the wine shop I’ve worked at a half-dozen times — I simply never explored the other rooms containing the super-expensive butcher and deli, as by the end of a 5-hour shift talking, pouring, flirting, selling wine on your feet, you just want to get the hell out of there.  Yesterday after I finished polishing my wine glasses I was still feeling rather spry and curious (very good day for sales), and to tell the truth, I fancied buying some handmade un-kosher sausages for dinner (the shop is owned by Christian Arabs, so I thought I might snag some real pork bangers).  No luck.  I didn’t like what I saw at the butcher’s counter, so I made my way past the cheeses.  And stopped for a half hour.

Wine and More” – the Hinnawi family’s branch on Carlebach (Carlebach 25, Tel Aviv), is pretty awesome.  Cheeses so overpriced, I wanted to cry, but awesome.   The wines are reasonable, but I suppose when you’re the only one in Israel selling Epoisse and Brunost and Extra-Oud Goudsa Kaas, you can pick your price.  And boy did they.

Hinnawi Carlebach - the cheese section in the back

I came out with three cheeses I haven’t eaten in years and years — but paid close to 100 shekels (30 USD) after a 20% discount (b/c the cheesemonger was a nice guy who used to be a ballet dancer in NYC for 18 years before he came back to Israel to run a restaurant for twelve years that went out of business two years ago) for an amount of cheese that would have cost me maybe $15 at a Whole Foods or less than $10 at a regular grocery store (not that they would have these cheeses).  Seriously folks.  Three slices of cheese.  With a discount.  But I had to have ’em.  They were the best.

Bleu des Basques

A little bit about why I adore cheese — apart from the fact that cheese is delicious, and that I have yet to meet one I didn’t like (including Norwegian “rotten cheese” that smells like the worst 10-day-old socks and causes most people to vomit)  — for pennies, for the change beneath your sofa cushions, you can have the best.  The very best.  Because even though I paid through the roof for a few hundred grams of three cheeses — I could never have bought the finest bottle of Champagne for that amount.  I couldn’t have snagged any fois gras.  No truffles.  No Michelin-starred filet mignon.  Because folks, this is what this cheese is — the very best in the world.  My $30 bought me 2-3 days worth (if I’m lucky) of a ride in a Porsche.  I truly believe that.  Each and every one of these cheeses is handmade, by real people, with recipes that are hundreds of years old, are aged in locations specific to the type of cheese, and many many have been awarded AOC (regional and production approval – like for wines), or similar, and are true products of their terroir.

The incomperable Epoisse

Many of us may never get to drink a bottle of Cristal while wolfing down Iranian Caviar on a yacht off the French Riviera.  But with $5-10 in your pocket, your local cheese shop will send you home with the world’s best cheese.  Maybe not a lot of it.  But it’s the genuine article, and an incredible pleasure to behold. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have the Mona Lisa in their home for an evening?  AND get to eat it?

Norway's sweet & creamy "Brown Cheese"

I urge all of you to go to your local cheese shop, or even a Whole Foods, and taste (if they don’t let you taste, it’s not a good cheese shop — you should be able to sample almost everything before buying — with the exception of the soft cheeses that would fall apart and need their rinds unbroken to keep aging) — and buy cheese.  If you don’t know where to buy good cheese, go online, open the yellow pages, ask a friend.  There is no excuse for waxy grocery store Swiss and mild neon orange cheddar.

I can’t tell you what an awesome thing  it was to arrive at home with those cheeses after that long long day on my feet.  I put together a plate with small slices of Norwegian brown cheese, Bleu des Basques, and a super-white hard aged goat’s cheese, a few buttery crackers, a handful of organic dates (I live in Israel, after all), and a couple tiny clementines.  If that isn’t a feast fit for a king, I don’t know what is.  Add a glass of cheap Scotch, the last couple episodes of Firefly, and I achieved an hour’s worth of bliss.  Believe me, that kind of peace is worth its weight in gold.  Not that that sentence makes any sense.

Sent to me by a facebook friend – if you haven’t seen this video, you must:

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Don't put pleasure off 'til tomorrow...if you can enjoy it today!

I’m still in New Years mode.  My parents are still visiting in Israel.  As such, every day includes some sort of adventure, for good or bad.  I have so much interesting food and wine news and gossip to spread, but I just don’t have the time and energy. So, I’m making this particular post short.  Juicy chunks of meaty entertainment must wait.

But…I’ve got great links! Enjoy them!

Open That Bottle Night” (OTBN) – is the last Saturday in February, this year, February 27th.  This was started by two of NY’s leading wine critics, and I think it’s a fine idea.  Looking back at the subject of my earlier post, it’s nice that there is an attempt at creating a holiday devoted to “that special wine bottle.”  No more hesitating or excuses for not opening the best!

A Cheeky College Essay” – A lovely little controversy or silly brouhaha revolving around a college essay that was so humorous and loved, that the dean of admissions at my alma mater, the University of Chicago, sent it to remaining prospective students still going through the application process – in order to ease their nerves.  Read this.  Hilarious! My alma mater is famous for its college essays.  There are incredibly creative prompts, the essays inspired reveal the personal side of the applicants, and I know that these are taken into account (sometimes heavily, depending on the student’s academic situation) when decision time comes around.  I personally spent ages writing and refining mine, going through up to 6 or 7 drafts, and at the time I was so proud of the resulting essay, believing it to be the finest writing I ever produced.  And it probably was.

Carpe Diem? Maybe Tomorrow” – Fantastic little article about research into pleasure…and why we put it off.  Basic message – we need to place deadlines on fun – or we won’t have it.  New years resolution to us all: have fun NOW.  A great read.  Let’s hope we can cash in those frequent flier miles, take that vacation, and open that wine…soon.  (with thanks to Bruce for sending it to me)

Champagne, in brief – a nice little history and how-to tasting guide for Champagnes, brought to you by France Guide, the official tourism website.  I like this site.  Don’t know why.  They have catchy little gimmicks like entertaining vlogs, fun quizzes and giveaways.  And I love France.  So it’s cool.  And hey, as far as capitalistic industries go, I’m good with tourism.  Get out there!  See another country (or state or city)!  It’s good for you, and I bet it’ll be fun, too!  In France you can drink lots good wine for cheap(er)!

Fun, beautiful, attractive, and appealing things…to me:

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