The Cheese Files Vol IX

Fontina. Simple straightforward Fontina.

Traditionally Italian, Fontina is an earthy flavored cow’s milk cheese that originates in the alps. Officially, Fontina can only be Fontina if it’s made in the Aosta Valley. The Aosta valley is in the north-westernmost corner of Italy north of Turin and abutted to Switzerland and France. The cheese’s texture is a bit more spongy than some of our more recent trials (my amateur tooth would put it in the same texture universe as an un-aged gouda). The mildly pungent woody taste is enjoyable but for me not overly rewarding.

Note to the pregnant: This cheese is unpasteurized.
Note to Kurt: Don’t overanalyze that last sentence.

Taste: 2.5/4
Price: $
Independence: Medium

Dataless Day 16

A few years back I had a great idea. You know those Escape room games online? Imagine that in real life! It’d be a big hit as a team building exercise. Well son of a gun, somebody did it. And wouldn’t you know there’s one in Connecticut. On the 15th we were scheduled to check out an Adventure room in West Hartford (www.myadventureroom.com).

The premise is simple, you and some friends are locked in a room and you have 60 minutes to figure out how to escape. You’ll have to wait until we return from our February without internet before getting a review, but of the events we planned this might be the one that I’m most excited about for February.

The website says that only about 30% succeed in escaping the room. We’d planned the event with Kelly and Jay, so we’ll see if the four of us have the wits to succeed. I’m very curious to see how the company executes the locked room scenario. Will there be a bathroom? Camera or in-room supervision? Do the puzzles rotate so you can try different rooms?

I’m so intrigued. You’ll have to come back in March for the full review.

The Cheese Files Vol VIII

GJetost (pronounced: YEH-Toast) is a Norwegian cheese that we purchased from our local favorite cheese show Fromage. It’s a mix of goat’s, cow’s milk, cream, and whey and it looks like a toy.

GJetost Packaging
What a cute package!

Caramel in color and with a firmness close to cheddar, GJetost has been described across the interwebs as fudgey. The packaging recommends serving in wafer thin slices alone, with fruit, bread, or… butter. Yes, butter.

Taking it out, it’s carameliness is even more pronounced. It holds the shape of its package just like a caramel. We cut off a thin slice and gave it a shot.

GJetost

Bizarrely delicious.

Describing it as fudge-like is extremely appropriate. It is sweet and dessertesque. We tried it on thin toast: totally amazing! What a fun unique cheese!

Taste: 3/4
Price: $$ (24/lb)
Independence: Extremely high. This one would be good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.

Try this one for the unique experience.

Dataless Day 9

In preparation for this month of no data, I did more than just schedule a bunch of MikeDiDonato.com posts. Jen and I scoured through event listings to try and find weekend and evening activities. In this month of excitement, this weekend was mostly tame. Friday we were scheduled to try our Cafe Routier in Westbrook after highly positive reviews from our neighbors. And if all went according to plan, we hosted a game night on Saturday night with Sander and Brian. Missions Risk was on the Menu.

Some basement organizers were also due to arrive this past week. So hopefully our basement is looking pretty orderly. I went with a ULINE shelving bin system.

The other casual goal that I had for this month was to use the weekend time to prep meals for the rest of the week. In January we were deeply successful with advance prep of ravioli, dumplings, and casseroles. I presume with less screen time there will be much more weekend prep.

The Cheese Files Vol VII

I’d first learned of Humboldt Fog when researching Cyprus Grove Chevre’s Midnight Moon. So far in my quest through these cheese files I would rate Midnight Moon as my favorite; yet this lunary delicious cheese was not as critically acclaimed as Humboldt Fog according to people who probably know cheese better than me. What is this Humboldt Fog and what makes it so revered?

What is it? Well, it’s a goat cheese and it’s the flagship cheese from Cyprus Grove. The cheese’s most unique visible feature is its coat of vegetable ash. The ash is edible and there’s even a stripe through the center of the cheese. It’s not as weird as it sounds. It’s probably where the fog part of the name comes from, but that is 100% speculation.

Humboldt Fog

The Ash, is it gimmick? Maybe. Our good friend Michelle who knows cheese better than any mortal gets a little Hipster on Humboldt. She describes it as the secret cheese that everyone has heard of.

Does that mean it’s not good?
No. In fact, it is completely delicious. It’s soft and creamy and very pleasant on its own. The cheese-maker’s website suggests honey or pear for pairing. We didn’t have pear to pair, so we paired with honey*. HONEY IS WHERE IT IS AT. With Honey, the cheese went from excellent to divine. A heavenly texture and flavor.

Because it’s as soft as it is, I don’t think Humboldt Fog is quite as awesome as Midnight Moon when consumed alone. But overall the taste was still top notch.

Taste: /4
Price: $$ (25/lb)
Independence: Medium

*heh, this sentence pleases me.

Dataless Day 4

My greatest curiosity surrounding this time experiment of no data for February is to see how much time Jen and I earn by not using our devices. How will our routines change? Every day I start by reading news on my iPhone. Now, my news will come from a newspaper. Will I get up earlier? Will I exercise more? Will we be bored?

Is it going to be the most exciting food month of all time with extra time for chefery?

Or perhaps we will hardly notice. It’s a curious thing to think about.

Also: Happy Birthday Theresa! Woo!

Dataless Day 2

What better way to start our month of no TV and internet than by watching the SuperBowl!! Okay, I admit it. We specifically crafted the rules to make sure we could still watch the SuperBowl. The rule was that our TV would be unplugged.

We watched the SuperBowl at Shaun’s place.

Is that cheating? Eh, maybe. But the goal here isn’t to be stupid, it’s to stop stupidity. The SuperBowl is a gathering, a social event. It’s hardly Jen and me sitting at opposite ends of a couch looking at Facebook or Words with Friends for an hour without talking. Watching the SuperBowl with friends is good in the the same way that going out to a movie would be fine.

It’s a far more social experience than a binge-a-thon of Cupcake Wars.

Glacial

The team were four. Three friends and their guide. The goal? Climb the insurmountable: a glacial drift so spontaneous in its appearance that hushed rumors passed speculating dark arts and mischievous doings behind its sudden rise. In just 12 hours it had appeared. In those short 12 hours it had already entered local lore, feared and respected by the village. The allure of this challenge is one no true adventurer could resist. Like an unmastered wave, a cavern unexplored, or rapids unridden, the peak called to them.

The guide didn’t bother with air tanks, but the three friends knew not to trust their bodies alone. They weren’t accustomed to exertion at these altitudes. The morning of their departure they packed their packs, hugged those dear to them, and per local tradition raised one flag each in the town center symbolizing their part in the elation and pride of the community.

The village cheered their heroes off as the snow billowed in frightful gusts.

Ice scape

With snow up to their waists, the team trudged upward and onward. The peak rose unmeasurably tall before them. Every single step brought them further from Earth and closer to heaven. The wind howled relentlessly. The cold gripped them to their core.

The village at the base of the terrible peak waited with baited breath for the return of the adventurers. The pubs were full but the steins empty as the patrons respectfully waited for their ambassadors to return with stories of victory and tales of great feats.

The steins remained empty that night.

As morning dawned without word from the exploration, the locals saw that the peak had risen to twice its previous height. It’s shadow cast long across the village. The sun fell and rose again. and again. Still no sign of the team.

With the solemn village people surrounding, the loved ones of those lost grimly lowered the flags in the town center to half mast. One pair of empty shoes, as per local tradition, was laid at the base of each flag.

Months passed. The flags were taken down, the shoes placed in the catacombs of the church. And then one day, a picture found its way around. There stood the four. Beaming at the summit.

Victory

No one knows where the picture came from, how it was developed, or who took it. And while the village was too wise to let hope return, the ale ran out before the kerosene that night.

The team, though fallen, had triumphed.