Curd Quips: Local foodies pioneer the cheesy path to epicurean ecstasy

 

Maybe I missed the notice that allowed vehicles to make left turns at red lights.  Apparently “waiting” for a green light is out of style? Follow the laws of the commonwealth?  Fuggedaboutit.

As I have watched several occurrences of this phenomenon in Culpeper, I have finally been prompted to write about it.  The last straw came when multiple cars and a rig decided to do just that and cut across two lanes of traffic to get to Wal-Mart.  The rig driver waved – so that was nice. Seriously, though, if that’s what is now acceptable to “Culpeperites,” I had to wonder what other laws no longer matter. Sadly, I did not have to look too far.

I will not make this a diatribe about a curmudgeon’s views of order, but instead ask an anarchistic question: If we don’t want to follow (or have the capacity or priority to enforce) the laws, why have them?

This is a timely parable for what’s happening in the world of cheese right now. Cheese is hot. The new “in” thing and so commonly implemented (in restaurants), that a noted Washington food critic opined that he would not be surprised to see a cheese and charcuterie offering at 7-11.  Ouch. That’s a damning indictment on the lack of creativity going on with the potential of cheese.

Where are the maverick’s, the figurative people who started making left turns on red and saying (perhaps to themselves), “Hellz Yeah this is good”? Break a few eggs, rock the boat and let’s move this cheese party forward.  I look around and I see a potential epicenter here in Central Virginia.  Some of the people and restaurants are leading the pack of cheesy pioneering:

Jess (and the team) at Before and After in Sperryville busted the rulebook with their Mimolette Crisps.  Adding Italian Parmesan – Reggiano helped to create a one of a kind colorful and flavor-filled crisp like none other.  The subtle touches on their cheese plates are eye candy too.

Grass Rootes is pushing the cheese plate standard with local and regional cheeses that are focused on taste. How else can you explain the puddle of deliciousness that is Goat Lady Dairy’s Snow Camp?  It’s like a puddle of fresh melted cheese at room temperature. That’s cool and outside the box.

Flavor on Main has gotten the cheese funk too with cheese’s inclusion on the new bar menu. Chef Garth is having fun with the dense milky character of St. Andre  – stop in and taste his take on the spread of French goodness.

Foti’s – always raising the bar – has a rotating selection of chef-curated cheese plates (we hear that they even have a special cheese fridge) with presentations so beautiful that they are regularly photographed before being tasted. Chef Maragos also makes aged feta into something transcendental on the appetizer menu.

Selfishly, I need to call out our team at Culpeper Cheese and say that the cheese pairings with Winemaker Wednesday have been off the hook.  Take the crystallized Pineapple with Coconut Gouda paired with Narmada’s signature wine MOM and it’s pineapple and passionfruit flavors. Thinking lunch? Local peach and tomato salad with herbs and Buffalo mozzarella do their part to keep the cheese party going.

Turn into one of these places to see (and taste) how they are pioneering perceptions of cheese.  While the names of the cheeses may be unknown to you and the presentations over the top, the experience will move your taste buds and understanding to a new level.  Those are rules that I can get behind breaking.