Today was my second-to-last day working in “Cheese Island.” I’ve really enjoyed getting paid to nibble on cheese all day and talk to people about it. As an added bonus, my calcium levels must be through the roof.
There are a lot of tasks to keep up with in the department, but my favorite is just getting my hands on some cheese and putting the new cuts on the shelf.
You start by figuring out what you need, when. Then you grab a cheese. You unwrap it and decide how best to tackle it. For some cheeses it’s a no-brainer, but for others you need a more strategic approach. The alpine cheeses Gruyère and Comté, for example, are enormous and require some geometry. This Gorgonzola piccante I cut today was tall and heavy, and quite gooey and slippery once I took the foil off. It’s a pricier cheese, too, and doesn’t sell quickly. Those things need to be taken into consideration every time so we waste as little as possible and so the cuts are at a reasonable price (it’s all priced per pound).
Here’s the Gorgonzola unwrapped. You can see where air holes have been poked in the cheese, resulting in the mold growth.
Then you cut it! This wire cheese cutter can tackle anything from triple-crème bries to the rock-solid Piave (in other words, pretty much everything except Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is practically an athletic event to prepare). You might decide to “belly” it, which is when you cut it in half twice, resulting in shorter and sometimes more solid and attractive (and/or affordable) pieces. I did that here. When a cheese is softer, like this Gorgonzola, you might also need to give the pieces “nose jobs”: that’s when you cut a small wedge off the end when making the triangular cuts. That helps it retain its nice shape instead of crumbling at the end.
Next you wrap everything, add labels, and weigh each piece to price it.Arrange it nicely, write down the sell-by date, et voilà !
All day I think about what I’ll have for dinner. That and cheese puns. After all, sweet dreams are made of cheese. Who am I to diss a brie?