I arrived at the Cute Gardener’s house on a late afternoon like any other day but there was something odd in the air of his pristinely kept home: a subtle yet rank perfume not unlike sodden socks set out to dry on a piece of concrete and forgotten about for a year. I politely enough said nothing and went about my work until I discovered the smelly culprit at the stroke of the cocktail hour.
As we got ready for a night out at a swank French bistro, the CG presented me with a wooden round containing a cheese that had never crossed my path before. Clearly it was the source of the home’s fragrance of the hour, and seeing that the cheese was already half eaten I understood why. It had enough time to permeate the entire atmosphere through the channel of my mate’s vulnerability and gluttony for exotic triple creams. I was instructed to take a sip of Riesling first and then try the cheese. After the syrupy crisp apple flavor of the vine hit the back of my throat, a small spoonful of the cheese on my tongue exploded in a bath of silken, woodsy flavor tinged on the edge with an almost oniony bite.
The vat contained Vacherin Mont d’Or, one of the most prized cheeses on the market. Known for its “spontaneous exuberance” (indeed, making me squeal a little with each bite), it is a highly seasonal Swiss cow creation made with the winter milk of the cows that produce Gruyere in the summer. It’s only available once a year and costs about $40 for the small tub. The CG got lucky while visiting the Beverly Hills Cheese Store and asking the man behind the counter if he had anything super runny. He was duly sized up in the store first before the man behind the counter concurred that he was worthy enough to be sold the very last one on hand. My own search online for more of the cheese turned out dismal results and continuous red SOLD OUT signs across the screen.
I took a third sip of Riesling with another pungent bite, delivered by a tiny metal spoon small enough to deliver the perfect smidgeon of such a million dollar palate punch. It was all I needed to be completely sated by this precious cheese, the perfect precursor to a classic French meal.