I often carry cheese around with me, sometimes in ziplock bags or in Tupperware type containers, sometimes carefully wrapped in two-ply semi-permeable cheese paper, and/or in a cool thermal lunch box, or in a larger cardboard box. Yesterday I was on my way to speak at the New York City Bar Show with several cheeses in a box, some printed collateral, business cards, and my handy wire cutter.
I was invited to speak at a tasting/seminar about cheese and beer. Had this been a year ago I would have been able to walk the short block from our old location to Javits; now from our temporary quarters in Queens, it took a bit longer. I started prepping by cutting the hard aged Gouda, even though this was going to be the fourth of five cheeses to be tasted. More on that logic in a future posting, or you can reference my first book, The Cheese Plate. Then I cut the Beeler Gruyère into rectangular shapes; this the third cheese to be tasted; then the Keen’s Cheddar — a little less hard than the Gruyère. Keen’s was the second cheese in the lineup, then the first cheese: Appleby’s Cheshire. Everything had been going well up until this point. All the harder cheeses were cut beautifully and laid out onto paper plates. Then with the softer Cheshire the wire on my cutter snapped.
The moment a wire breaks is always a little jarring for me. Here I am with more than 60% of the cheese sliced and plated then the wire breaks. Alors! What compounded the problem was that I did not have a replacement wire. I was wireless. The harder cheeses are often the ones that cause these wires to snap, not a moist cheese like a Cheshire. Earlier I had observed one of my colleagues cut into a wheel and decided right then and there to replace another cheese with this marvelous specimen of Cheshire. By the way, the Cheshire paired admirably with each of the ales, no surprise there.
So here we are with less than fifteen minutes to go before the start of the seminar, and I am wireless. No replacement and not enough time to go back to our facilities in Queens, and I had no knife.
So how does one cut cheese without a wire or a knife?
I still had the broken wire. There was no other choice but to wrap the wire around one finger and pull it through the remaining Cheshire and then through the last cheese, the Stilton. Fortunately these two cheeses are a little soft, otherwise I would be cutting my finger, not the cheeses.
I usually remember to bring extra wires. I will make a point of having backups with me from here on out.
If you are not familiar with one of those wire cutters I have to say it is a cheese guy’s most valuable tool. Precise cuts of cheese can be made, better than the cuts you can make with a knife. The handy wire cutter is often included in my checked luggage; each time it’s there I get a note from TSA. As many times as I have flown from LGA with my cutter, you would think they’d recognize it by now.
- Max McCalmanPosted by Artisanal Cheese