You Are What You Eat


I remember a few years back observing my family eat at the Olema Inn in West Marin. I was so sick that weekend. I laid in bed sweating out a fever, having delusions that the stuffed squirrels on the mantle were dancing around my bedposts. So when my sisters begged me to just come downstairs and sit at the table even if I didn’t feel like eating, I decided it was time to get a little fresh air (and escape those demonic squirrels). I stumbled downstairs, and sat in the sweet candlelit dining room admiring the menu and wishing that I could eat just a little something.

These days it’s common to ask if our meat is corn-fed, grass-fed, free-range etc. But at the Olema Inn, they went so far as to list whose field the cows had grazed on (The Turner’s field down the road a bit). At the time I thought this was a little too precious: do we really need to know that many details? Seriously, does it matter whose grass the cows consumed on what day? But the Olema Inn was two steps ahead of me. They understood that what your food eats, where it’s raised, and the conditions in which it’s raised greatly affect the taste and quality.

This morning, as I was strolling the aisles of my favorite natural grocery store, I spotted “Seaside Cheddar,” a rugged mature English Cheddar that’s unique in that the cows graze on grass right near the shore of an English farm, giving the cheese a distinct flavor and texture. “Try it,” the cheese man goaded me. He detailed how it would be different than any cheddar I’d ever tasted and instructed me to move it to the back of my mouth where I’d notice “small crunchy little pockets of salty flavor”. Yeah, Right. I doubted the cheese man. I wondered how he could be so enthusiastic about cheese at such an early hour. Yet again, the cheese man and the folks behind the Seaside Cheddar are two steps ahead of me. It’s an incredible, almost delicate cheddar, a word that generally doesn’t come to mind when people talk about cheddar. This cheese has your typical sharp, salty flavor, but it’s unique in that it almost crumbles like a parmesan. For a cows milk cheese, there’s a lot going on. It’s complex and delightful. And yes, pay attention: there are little air pockets in the cheese due largely to an effect of the aging process (calcium crystals form). Pick some up–you’ll see what I mean.

I sliced some with crackers. It would be lovely with apple wedges or on some crusty, toasted bread. Serve it room temperature so you can really appreciate the flavors. You can pick some up at your local Whole Foods this week (on sale for $7.99/pound) and reflect on the fact that the grass is greener across the pond–so different you can taste it.

Comments

  1. Anne

    This sounds excellent. I once had an earth-shatteringly good cheddar that a friend brought back from England, and it was just as you describe: incredible flavor, slightly crumbly, with little crystals. I would love to find one like it, so I'll give this a try. I hope my local Whole Foods carries it... I'll find out tomorrow!

  2. Andy B

    If you want your socks knocked off, cube some up, poke it with a tooth pick and dip in honey. Half the cube is enough. Mind blowing.

    *Source: I'm a cheese man

  3. Kaitlyn

    Does anyone know who distributes this cheese? I am the cheese buyer for a small co-op in Arkansas, and would love to pick it up for our guests to enjoy!

    1. megang

      Hi, Kaitlyn! Thanks for your note. Gosh I wish I knew more details for you on this. It was so long ago and I lived in CA at the time. Perhaps contacting them directly is a good first start? Good luck!

    2. Daniel Shearing

      Hello Kaitlyn,

      I live in Cheddar and have in the past sent cheese to my friends in California. Very few companies are willing to send small quantities of cheese to the US because of the difficulty with the FDA Prior Notification system. I now battle with the system and then bring it with me to post to my friends when I arrive in the USA. I would try Googling the company and see if they are willing to arrange shipment. Good luck.

      1. megang

        Thanks, Daniel!

    3. Ashley

      I am from NE Arkansas and buy it at Whole Foods in Memphis. It's our favorite!

  4. Suzanne. Dube

    I am huge fane if sea side cheddar. First served at a tasting. Paired with a dense date cake/wheel. Found jig jam recently. Less expensive and easier to find. I love cheese, but this is my fav. I would drive miles to a Whole foods to buy the cheese.

  5. Lourdes M Tremblay

    Just found Seaside English Cheddar today at Wholefoods...pure ambrosia! I read the ingredients and saw 'Vegetarian Rennet'. Upon further research learned that the rennet is responsibly cultivated and not derived from baby calves. The fact that the cheese comes from pasture cows grazing by the sea gives me a lovely visual as well. Now this makes me love the cheese even more and I will definitely be treating myself to this delicacy!

    1. megang

      Oh thank you for the comment, Lourdes! Gosh I'm so happy to hear Whole Foods is still carrying it and it was easy to find. And that you enjoyed it! Have a great week.

    2. Shanna

      I am NOT a cheese person. Hate American cheese, and will only eat cheese on pizza/nachos, with a certain consistancy. But, THIS! Oh, i eat this by the pound. I discovered this after my 4 yr affair with catamont cheddar. This is the best tasting cheese ever, and is soooo worth 13 bucks a lb. Period
      .

      1. megang

        So good, right?!?

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