Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's Always Better Outside.

Eating, that is.

Picnics, do you love 'em?

They have a special place in our White Hot hearts.

All the way back in 2004, after Hugh and I had been "friends" for a couple of months, winter break rolled around and everyone in our college town headed home the first week in December. Everyone except me. I was stuck in Gainesville, FL working away until three days before Christmas. I was lonely and pouty and ready to be with my family. And then Hugh came back on December 19th to surprise me.

He planned to take me on a picnic and his truck was loaded down with cheese and fruit and wine and all of the other picnic necessities. It was freezing, so we ended up eating in my apartment, but that day is one of the happiest in my memories.

Two years later, on December 19, 2006, Hugh took me on another picnic. This time we were in Savannah and it was seventy-five degrees outside. The food was the same, but Hugh seemed unusually quiet. I couldn't figure out why until thirty minutes into said picnic when I turned around and he was down on one knee, asking me to be his wife:

A return visit to the picnic proposal location during our engagement photos. Courtesy of Geoff L Johnson Photography.

For our honeymoon, we went to Italy for ten days. To Cinque Terre, specifically. Those ten days were basically one long prosciutto-and-cheese-and-gelato-eating, wine-drinking picnic:

So, getting to the point, this year I wanted to surprise Hugh with a (return to Italy via food) picnic. Enter Murray's Cheese and the San Francisco Wine Trading Company. On Saturday evening, sitting on our Georgia porch, I brought Cinque Terre to us:

Those are the same napkins Hugh had tucked in his proposal picnic basket!

Hugh was so surprised and excited, the food was delicious, and the wine (called: Cinque Terre) took us right back to those first few days of wedded bliss.

Here's a close-up of the goods and the details on which Italian cheeses and meats we enjoyed via Murray's:

La Tur: A dense, creamy blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk. Runny and oozing around the perimeter with a moist, cakey, palette-coating paste, its flavor is earthy and full, with a lingering lactic tang. The effect is like ice cream served from a warm scoop; decadent and melting from the outside in. Easy to eat, this was the first to go.

Pecorino Oro Antico: Antico? Well it is aged for 6 months. Oro? Some might agree this pasteurized sheep milk treat from Italy sets the gold standard. Firm and flaky, it has the desirable sheepy-nutty-grassy flavor trifecta.

Blu di Bufala: In Bergamo, the Quattro Portoni dairy raises water buffalo and, since 2005, makes cheese from the milk as well. This pasteurized blue is particularly striking in looks and flavor. The especially high butterfat of ‘bufala’ milk (it’s like half & half!) means more fuel for the butter-hungry blue mold spores. The result – a funky, broken-down appearance, and amazingly rich and earthy flavor. Absolutely one-of-a-kind. One of the best blues we've ever had.

Taleggio: One bite of the meaty, nutty, fruity interior and you’ll understand its millennial appeal. The squares of pasteurized cow’s milk are washed with a brine to foster a sticky, orange edible rind while air pumped from the original caves causes a dappling of soft and earthy tasting grey mold. Ripe wheels have a pudding texture – smear on veggies or toasty bread.

Prosciutto di Parma: Picture a hog's leg, lots of salt, and the sweaty labor of old Italian men. No, it's not a movie once readily available in Times Square, it's the way to make Prosciutto di Parma. Speaking of whey, the liquid from Parmigiano-Reggiano feeds the hogs.

Genoa Salami: Genoa boasts the finest grind of all our slicing salamis, and matches that even texture with a rich and ever-so-slightly spicy flavor. Use it to fill your favorite sandwich, or class it up by serving alongside some olives, cheese, and crusty bread.

It was quite the kick-off to our anniversary celebration and we spent the rest of the weekend in a cheese-induced stupor.

1 comment:

  1. Ummmm, cheese HEAVEN! When I lived in NYC I frequented Murray's, it is a cheese lover's dream. What a great celebration, Happy Anniversary white hot :) xo