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I am a bit gender-deviant in that I hate almost every kind of shopping. I will visit a mall only at gunpoint, and although I appreciate beautiful clothing, my own wardrobe is in a sad state. The only exceptions to my shopping embargo are books (natch), certain items that I collect, and things to eat or drink. 

So it was that I gladly joined the Long-Suffering Husband on a recent expedition to an upscale food emporium whose departments are broken down into the following:

  • wine
  • cheese
  • bakery
  • chocolate
  • produce
  • deli
  • butcher shop and seafood

Of course, I have nothing to do with the last-named, but all the others are of exceeding interest to me. (The only department missing is Liquor, but given the generous wine selection, I can’t complain.) Feeling virtuous and in need of restorative substances after accompanying the Long-Suffering Husband to donate platelets (the LSH is a fervent blood donor and has earned his ten-barrel pin, which is equivalent to 4200 gallons or 66.6 hogsheads), I decided to load up with loot, focusing on the kinds that are aged in caves.

Loot

Click to enlarge.

My haul consisted of the following (clockwise from right):

1. Cyprus Grove Purple Haze chèvre: with the addition of lavender and fennel pollen, this goat cheese is amazing, as are all the Cyprus Hill products.
2. Long Clawson Blue Stilton: this Leicestershire blue is excellent, though I have to admit that I would eat a dirt pie if it had blue cheese on it.
3. Balleycashel mild Irish cheddar: haven’t tasted this yet, but as a major cheddar fan, I am salivating! The label says Tipperary by confusion with Cashel Blue, but I think it’s from the Imokilly plant in Co. Cork.
4. Emmi Le Gruyère: this is my go-to gruyère. The perfect companion to asparagus, and one of the best cheeses for cooking.
5. Unsalted Plugrá butter. I’ve never actually tried this one in spite of its fame among foodies, so I thought it was about time. Maybe I’ll make chocolate-chip cookies! By the way, Plugrá has the most amazing collection of flavored butter recipes I’ve ever seen.
6. Meyenberg Goat’s Milk Butter: this cultured butter from a large California producer is salted, but all my doubts were erased once I tasted it. It’s pure white, and has a heavenly aroma quite unlike cow’s butter. The flavor is almost like coconut, with a slight sweetness and a distinct tangy echo of chèvre. I fried my eggs in it this morning. Mmmmm!
7. Two hunks of BellaVitano from Wisconsin: we don’t buy Parmegiano Reggiano because it uses rennet (from the lining of calf stomachs) to curdle the milk. Though it’s tough to be deprived of PR, I have found lots of pleasing alternatives, and this is one of the best. Like a cross between an aged cheddar and an aged parmesan, but less granular and more creamy.
8. Local Black Swamp Gouda from grass-fed cows at Canal Junction farmstead in Ohio. This cheese surprised me because it’s not like a traditional aged gouda. It’s a relatively young, fresh cheese, but with a hint of sharpness and tang.

9. [Late addition!] How could I have forgotten this one? It’s a Delice de Bourgogne, a  triple cream. I found it a bit too salty, but still delicious and milder than I expected.

Also pictured are two chardonnays on which I will report in due course…

According to wikipedia, the US is tenth in the world in per capita cheese consumption, with France, Iceland, Greece and Germany heading the list. I’m doing my bit to bring us up in the standings…

Also, over the past few weeks the 3 B’s have landed in the top tags for my posts: Beautiful Men, Belfast, and Butter. The last has been dropping in the standings, so I had to give Butter a boost!