May I have extra cheese with that please?

It is still fig season in California, and I LOVE figs. Besides their texture, taste and juiciness, I also love that they go so well with cheese. As you may have noticed in the last post, we used some for to dip into our blue cheese fondue. The pictures you see here are of a quick summer salad that was easy to make; red and green leafy lettuce, green onions, cherry tomatoes, roasted pine nuts, figs and cheese. The cheese is a semi-soft goat’s milk cheese which has been soaked in red wine from Spain. Supposedly it is from the same town that my sister-in-law is from, Murcia, Spain, which also happens to be where Charo was born. Not that either of these facts have anything to do with this velvety smooth cheese with a slight Salad with figs and Drunken Goat Cheese spicy tang. The Spanish name for this cheese is, yes, you’ve guessed it: Queso de Murcia al Vino. The cheese is only aged 75 days, and is made from pasturized milk.

What, you say this isn’t quite enough cheese for you today? I’ve been trying to convince myself that it is alright to write shorter posts (and then I might get them up more often; I certainly consume enough cheese), but I am a long-winded fellow. What I will do today, is post a link to an article I wrote concerning Chico and cheese for the weekly publication, the News & Review. This was published today… Consider it like an extended blog post if you will, it may be found here at this link. Many thanks to editor, writer, musician and all around great guy; Jason Cassidy for requesting the article. I have, and will again, go on about Chico, but I hope the article gives you some additional insight to that wonderful town.

Blues to melt for (with?).

Slicing cranberry and walnut bread Even for someone like me, who can enjoy fondue anytime, there were portions of this past summer that it was just too warm. In the Bay Area, however, things are starting to cool off, and thanks to Kathy, we had a couple friends over for another delicious cheese-based dinner. Once again turning to Lenny Rice and Brigid Callinan’s book, ”Fondue” (one of, honestly, about 20 fondue books we own), we tried a recipe we hadn’t tried before; Bavarian Blue with Roasted Garlic.

Utilizing a milder type of blue cheese, Cambozola, this fondue is excellent if anyone you are serving it to anyone who doesn’t enjoy strong tasting blue cheeses. One of the Cambozola mixed with flower features that Rice & Callinan’s book that I admire, are the small side-bar notes such as this one (verbatim): “CHEESE NOTES: From Germany, Cambozola is a mild and creamy blue-veined cheese with soft white mold coating. Created in the 1970s as a hybrid of Camembert and Gorgonzola, Cambozola is one of Germany’s most popular cheeses.” Truth is, from my own experience, Germans are wild for Camembert in General; a popular dinner treat in Germany is a breaded hockey-puck sized cakes of Camembert (per person) which is then either baked or fried so that the contents spill out when the exterior’s shell is pierced by each diner. This is served well with a nice bit of Figs, Apples and bread cubes Preiselbeeren Jam (that’s lingonberry to you!) For the Germans to have combined this smooth, soft cheese with the likes of blue cheese is a natural progression. Used in the fondue, German Cambozola needs very little other liquid since it is moisture-rich soft cheese. In fact, besides only requiring 1/4 cup of Gewürztraminer wine, the recipe has you coat the cheese chunks in flower as seen in the picture, to help separate the pieces so that they’ll melt more evenly, as well as give a little more viscosity to the final blend. Kathy had already prepared the cheese and roasted garlic before I got home. One additional step I took was to mash the roasted garlic cloves (which are often almost a paste when roasted in an oven with olive oil) with some of the cheese and wine so that when it is introduced to the fondue it would spread more evenly throughout the pot.

Which Hand is it in? This fondue has a wonderful earthy tone to it which makes you (OK; me at least) want more and more of it as the pot empties. Excellent accompaniment were the figs, apples and cranberry-walnut bread that Kathy sliced up for the dinner. Better yet was the wonderful and comedically engaging company we shared with our friends Christine and Sang (not pictured; sorry C&S; you’d have killed me if I posted bad pictures of you). Amongst discussion was Christine’s website that she has been just recently building and developing, as well as a discussion of whether music, with no frame of reference can be funny on its own. I’ll leave that to you to consider this as you go out and try a blue cheese which is new to you, but I will say that as Sang brought up a subject from the world at large (popularized and discussed in articles such as this one) that; “Adding the Benny Hill Theme to Anything Makes it Funny”.

What; cheese got your head in the clouds?

Truth is, yes, yes it has. Was spending the majority or my time looking for work (found some! I’m now working in Martinez, CA), and my new work has been fantastic so far…

Plus Kathy and I have been working on the Thunderbird’s latest play behind the scenes (I’ll attach a short video clip from that below…), which closes Aug. 15th, 2009

Finally catching up with e-mail, and FaceBook and such, I have Dawn to thank for this wonderful BBC article (click on the title, and then scroll down once it opens in a new page): “Capsule of cheese ‘lost in space’”

I’m soon to get my mind back on writing about cheese, so meanwhile, enjoy this link from the Thunderbird’s production of “Aaron Trotter and the Incident at Bikini Beach”,featuring singer/songwriter Megan Slankard doing a cover for the benefit of humor:

 

While sitting on content… (Sunset Weekend)

Shadow Theatre for Cats You might wonder what’s happening when I haven’t had the chance to post for awhile… “Is he in a coma from eating too much cheese? … Did he fall into the Canyon of Cheese? … Has he run out of ideas or things to talk about?”Although the first of these mused questions might be the closest to the truth, the actual truth is perhaps less interesting. Due to the economy I was laid off several weeks ago from my IT job, and have been Aarron Trotter and the Incident at Bikini Beach frantically looking for new work. On the plus side, I no longer have to commute from Oakland, CA to Atherton on a daily basis. There’s been plenty to keep me busy besides looking for work; the theatre company I helped found has its latest play “Aaron Trotter and the Incident at Bikini Beach” opening on July 31st (click on the press photo for more information/link), so there’s much to do for that… and to keep myself sane (insane?) I might do something like create a Shadow Would you like some cheese? Puppet Theatre for our cat Nikita’s entertainment (click on photo for a different view). Although she found it engaging, she did not take much action against the bird shadows I provided. Her reflective mode leads me to believe that she was questioning reality, perhaps much like the Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

OK, OK, we’ve had enough, Bryce! Where’s the cheese?!?

Flowers Oh, sorry “Inner-Cheese Voice”, got carried away, as usual, and as the title of this post mentions, I’ve been sitting on a lot of content that I haven’t been writing about. Today I’d like to tell you a bit about the event I volunteered at for the California Artisan Cheese Guild; Sunset Magazine’s “Celebration Weekend”.

Crowds waiting to talk about cheese Just as with last year’s, 2009’s visitors were rewarded with excellent weather for their participation, and, like last year, the Guild’s cheeses and information were a huge hit.

With so much to do at the event from booths of tourism boards, to vendors, to chef demonstrations and live music, you’d think that it’d be hard to choose what all to try, do and see. The great many visitors, however, who lined up to taste some of the best artisan cheeses in California were no dunces; it was worth the wait.

The style in which people sample cheeses often speaks volumes about how acquainted they are with quality cheese. Cheese Guild with Line I’m the last to suggest that you should be a cheese snob when trying cheese, but I do appreciate it when people are surprised by what they are tasting (instead of the; “Oh; free cheese! I’ll shovel down as many samples as they’ll give me!”- method of tasting…).  With cheese there is such an amazing variety of possibilities of taste and texture, that Shammrock (and Harley Farms) taking a moment to understand how a cheese affects your tongue, your taste buds, and your overall enjoyment of life, can be very rewarding. It’s true that NOT every cheese is going to be a cheese that you enjoy, but life is too short not to take a moment and enjoy the bounty of what is offered, particularly when such time and care has been lovingly Sheena Davis applied to cheeses such as those we were offering from the California Artisan Cheese Guild.

One of the cheeses which I was able to give samples of out to people was Point Reyes Farmstead Blue. Since for many blue cheeses are very strong (particularly after trying more mild tasting cheeses which were being offered: fresh goat milk cheese from Harley Farms, Shamrock’s Artisan Goat Cheeses,  Sheena Davis’ Delice de La Vallee and Sadie Kendell’s Crème Fraîche) the reactions were all over the Point Reyes Blue map. I love how people’s tastes for cheese are just as individual as there are cheeses.

Plenty more content to get to work on, so meanwhile, enjoy the pictures (all taken by Kathy. Clickon any picture for a pop-up window with the full-res version)!

Hawaiian Band Agave Chef Demos

Ride into the Sunset (of Artisan Cheese!)

Whether you happen to subscribe  to Sunset Magazine or not, if you live anywhere near their offices in Menlo Park, CA (roughly about 40 minute’s drive south, and a little east, of San Francisco), I can’t recommend their “Celebration Weekend” more highly. It is happening THIS weekend (Saturday and Sunday, the 6th and 7th of June, 2009 from 10am to 5pm both days). Yeah, it costs something to get in, specifically $15 for adults, but as Kathy said of last year’s; “I got so much free stuff; magazines, cookbooks, chef demonstrations, products, etc. that it was definitely worth more than the $15!”   …but one of the best reasons to attend? Cheese of course! Cheesemakers and members of the California Artisan Cheese Guild, will be in attendance again this year sampling some of the best that California has to offer. Yep, that includes me (Sunday morning), helping out in any way that I can. Meanwhile, Kathy’s already looking at the schedule to see which booths, demonstrations and entertainment we shouldn’t miss.

Here’s Sunset’s information about this year’s (2009) event: CLICK HERE
…and here is my write-up of what it was like last year when it was new to me: CLICK HERE

Also this weekend, Kathy and I will be fortunate to meet another cheese blogger; from down under. Susan, the blogger behind Something to Nibble On and a friend of hers will be taking a short whirlwind visit of San Francisco, and we’ve all agreed to meet up. Cheese bloggers of the world unite! 

…more on this, and the Sunset Weekend after they have happened; meanwhile let me know what cheeses you, dear reader, have been enjoying. Me, I’ve been eating cheese, but doing a lot of IT (Information Technology) job searching lately (let me know if you know of anything!). Hope to see everyone enjoying cheese in Menlo Park this weekend.

Too much cheese in your fridge?

Here’s another recipe that I use when I have too much cheese in the fridge (besides the Formage Fort recipe by Jacques Pépin which you can find on this prior posting).

This recipe is best/designed for Cheddar cheeses, but can use almost any combination of semi-hard, and/or semi-soft cheeses. Today’s batch of Cheese Biscuit Cookies is a combination of New York Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Cheddar infused with Port-style Beer (thanks Randy and Annie!), some cave-aged Gruyère, and some Parmesan.  

…Kathy likes to tell people that at any given moment we have anywhere between 7 to 20 types of cheese in our fridge. Although this is primarily true, sometimes I need to look through them all, and clean out the fridge. I find what hasn’t been eaten, what’s been forgotten behind jars of condiments, and salvage what I can. REMEMBER; one of the best rules of thumb when buying cheese is to only buy as much as you know you can finish within a week. If you’re like me though, recipes like the one below can help you save any cheese that you just can’t part with by giving it a new life in the form of a cookie…

I’ve tried a vareity of recipies much like the one below, this one is still my favorite.

Cheese Biscuit Cookies

(to use as an hors d’oeuvre, or to be served with drinks)

  •  2 cups flour
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. butter, softened
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, firmly packed
    (or a mix of cheddar, Parmesan, Gouda, Edam, etc.)
  • 24 pecan or walnut halves
  • 2 Tbs. black and white sesame seeds (or just plain ol’ white sesame seeds are fine)

 

Place the flour, salt, black pepper, dry mustard, softened butter and shredded cheese in a medium-large mixing bowl and mix well.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. (Some people leave the butter and the cheese out at room temperature over night to soften and sharpen.)

You can add a few grains of cayenne pepper if the cheese is not strong.

Form into marble size balls, place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and press with a fork.

 

Place on the top of each cheese biscuit, a pecan half, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, or leave plain.

 

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool a few minutes before removing from the baking sheet.

 

Extra notes from Bryce:
This recipe is excellent and I have made it enough times to give some solid advice about assuring that they come out perfectly:

  • Use real butter. If you are a person that uses margarine due to habit, cost, or for diet purposes, you might as well forego making this. Be sure it is absolutely softened before attempting to mix the ingredients.
  • Use the best quality and sharpest cheddar cheese possible. Personally I go to either Trader Joe’s, or my favorite cheese shop and buy some extra sharp white cheddar.  I like to use a mixture of cheeses. I usually make 50% of it the high quality white extra sharp cheddar, 25% extra sharp orange cheddar (it gives the biscuit more color), and 25% Gruyere. Even though the cheese may already be extra sharp, I take the recipe’s advice and shred it into a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it overnight to allow it to become even sharper.
  • Using parchment paper underneath the cookies. DO NOT use wax paper; you’ll just make a waxy mess on your baking pans.
  • If you put these in an airtight container after they have cooled, they will last for several days.
  • I find these cookies to be great as a savory treat along with dirty vodka martinis.
Tour de Fromage II…

THIS Saturday (May 30th, 2009) is once again the bicycle “Tour de Fromage” in San Francisco, organized through the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), and is FREE (except for any cheese that you might buy).

Here’s the write-up about last years event
[click here].

…and here is the the information from the SFBC’s website:

Tour de Fromage

 Sat., May. 30 | 11am-3pm | Meet at the Panhandle Statue, Fell and Baker

Due to popular interest, we’re riding this ride again! Goat, sheep, or cow? We love ‘em all! Join other happy, two-wheeled cheese appreciators for a visit to some of the city’s top fromage specialists. We’ll finish up with a cheese-sharing picnic at a nearby park. Don’t forget to bring cash for cheesy purchases from our local vendors. Info: jgallin@sbcglobal.net

I cannot recommend this event more highly for anyone who enjoys cheese, or cycling, or just plain having a good time! -Bryce

Lost in Brooklyn’s Cheese…

Springtime in Brooklyn - Picture by Kathy Too often when Kathy and I go somewhere, and I have the chance to enjoy a lot of cheese, I become almost overwhelmed… At least in what I can, or should, write about when I have SO MUCH that I could write about. This is even true of just a two and a half day visit in Brooklyn. Although I could go on and on about how wonderful it was to catch up with good friends, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend (and their Springtime in Brooklyn - Picture by Kathy fantastic dual birthday party),  I should write about the cheese we enjoyed… These blogs are also often influenced on what I manged to take photos of, so that I can at least provide some visuals. Although I did try a lot of wonderful cheeses while in Brooklyn, I’m going to concentrate on a few of the places where you can buy cheese there.

Bedford Cheese Shop First off is a wonderful store where I have been before, Bedford Cheese Shop. This unassuming corner store has a large variety of high-quality domestic and international cheeses as well as a sandwich counter. The staff is both knowledgeable and helpful, and I was amazed (concerning their customer service), that the Cheesemonger who helped us actually remembered us from the last time we were there, once, over a Bedford Cheese Shop Interior year and a half ago. Sure, sure, we spoke with her about cheese, and Californian cheeses then, and did again, so it’s not that far of a stretch that she’d remember… Although their selection was excellent as always, I was unable to purchase any artisan cheese produced IN New York from Bedford Cheese this time. I was carrying around a short list of cheeses that Lynne Devereux had suggested I try while out east, but they were out of all of them (please, no Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch jokes). What I did pick up while there were a few that were new to me:

Bedford Cheese Shop Case Grayson from Meadow Creek Farms in Southwest Virginia.
This is a washed-rind cheese. If you are inexperienced with washed-rinds cheeses, I’ll remind you that they can be very pungent since this type of cheese making process often promotes the growth of the Corynebacterium and Brevibacterium on the rind. If you’ve ever wondered why some cheeses smell like dirty feet or toe-jam, Brevibacterium is most often to blame; it is the same bacterium which causes foot odor. When/if you’ve expanded your cheese experience to include a variety of washed-rind cheeses, you’ll find the odor to be almost welcoming since these surface, purposely cultivated, bacterium contribute to the overall taste of the cheese. If you can’t take the rind, avoid it, cut around it. I, however, try to have both the cheese’s interior AND some of the rind for the entire taste experience. Many “stinky” cheeses are also the most mild tasting. The Grayson hits your tongue with a quick snap, but them the butter-like consistency and creaminess heals any wound from the initial taste, and your cares melt away.

Another cheese we picked up at the Bedford Cheese Shop was a little medallion of Buure Weichkäesli. Buure is the farm or brand name, and Weichkäesli means; “soft little cheese”. The word Käesli, is very Swiss due to the “li”. In the German speaking areas of Switzerland, anything that is small, or cute (or small and cute), gets “li” added to the end of it. This cheese is a cow’s milk cheese, very soft, deceptively light for its 60% fat content, and hails from the Canton of Bern in Switzerland. If you gave me a bowl of these, I’d eat them like popcorn, but due to their creamy nature, I suggest having it spread on bread after reaching room temperature.

Bedford Cheese Shop Counter As the last treat for ourselves at Bedford, I asked the Cheesemonger what she was excited about lately, and she let us have a sample of Tomme Crayeuse, which is from Savoie, France. In the world of cheese, it is fairly new, only having been developed about 12 years ago. The complexity of these lovely semi-soft cow’s milk cheese left me reeling. It has distinct textures from rind to center… I’ve read the the rind on this cheese is best discarded as it does not add (in tasting) to the perfection of what it conceals. Yep, we bought some.

Tops on the Waterfront Cheese & Deli Counter While Kathy went to have her hair cut, I accompanied Janet on a few errands to help prepare for her and her boyfriend Eddie’s party. When a town is as old as Brooklyn, you thankfully don’t have huge gleaming supermarkets, but instead, a wonderful hodge-podge of places which have their own character. One such place is Tops on the Waterfront, which through its rambling isles and rooms, has a huge “cool room” where all meats, cheese and chilled beverages are kept. Besides having a very respectable selection of imported cheeses, I was also really happy to see an entire shelf dedicated to mostly American consumer cheese (ie mass-produced/non-artisan). Click on the Cracker Barrel picture below to get a pop-up of the entire shelf.
 Click on this for a shelf full of Processed Cheese at Tops on the Waterfront
Im staving off my “Inner-Cheese Voice” by warning you that what I have to say next doesn’t involve cheese. Janet took us to a fairly new “authentic” German Bier Garden in Brooklyn; the Radegast Hall & Beer Garden. Designed and decorated to look older and more traditional than it actually is, Radegast DOES have the charm and near authenticity of a German Beer Garden. They’re doing everything right at the place, from the shaded patio with long tables and benches to perfectly prepared wurst and hard-to-find German beers served as pints or whole liters. They may not be serving cheese, but there’s nothing quite like a Beer Garden in the Spring or Summertime.

Bier! Hüp' für Freude Radegast Bier und Wurst Kathy at Beer Hall

Running more errands with Janet (yes, this is all part of the same day), Kathy Brooklyn Fairway Market and I accompanied her out to the Redhook waterfront area (from which you can see the Statue of Liberty), where there’s a huge supermarket named the Fairway (it’s on the bottom floor of the beautiful brick re-purposed building you see in the picture). Walking through it is akin to a labyrinth, ‘cept that if you keep going in one direction, you’ll eventually make it to the exit. Towering shelves of food and prepackaged foods make for a dizzying Fairway Market's Cheese Counter effect as you navigate the isles. Naturally I got stuck at their extensive “Cheeses of the World” cheese counter. Middle-aged men in white supermarket aprons gave generous samples of anything that was asked about, and they were making swift sales too. It was at this stop that I noticed a trend. Every place we had been that sells cheese by the pound has signage which states the price per quarter pound. Sure, the math’s not hard if you’re comparing Janet & Kathy enjoy some Key-lime Pie prices to California’s per pound price system, but it did lead me to believe (briefly) that the Fairway had excellent cheese prices. We got out of there with me thankfully not overloading by buying even more cheese.  …before leaving Redhook, however, we did stop at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, which are said to be amongst the best in the world.

Stinky bklyn Sign Jumping forward to a day later, we did make it to one more cheese shop that I had been hearing about; Stinky bklyn. This small shop (about the same size of the Bedford Cheese Shop) is also very well stocked with cheeses from around the world. Their Cheesemongers were Stinky bklyn Cheese Case also very helpful and knowledgeable (who knew that New York would have so many people who know their craft so well? Don’t you wish that your local shops hired people as well-informed as these specialists?). Again, looking for cheeses specific to New York, my search was awarded this time with Toma Celena made by Cooperstown Cheese Company of Milford, New York. The Toma, like other Stinky bklyn Interior cheeses from Copperstown Cheese Company, is based on similar Italian cow-milk cheeses, but are produced in New York, and as they are distinctive to where they are from, bear their own names. Since I did have some trouble locating many New York Artisan cheeses during our brief visit to Brooklyn, this is a good chance to promote the New York State Artisan & Farmstead Cheese Makers Guild. They’ve got a brochure that I’ll be sure to use if I ever have the chance to take a cheese tour of New York State. Back to Stinky bklyn, the store its self, however– It’s an impressive Stinky bklyn Exterior set-up, and they have their own aging “cave” at which they help some cheesemakers by continuing the aging process on-site. Another thing I found interesting, was that the store, like Bedford Cheese, also had the traditional tin-plated ceiling. Perhaps it is something about Brooklyn’s architecture, but I love the “traditional” touches that both of these cheese shops have. Another offering that Stinky has above and beyond cheese is Prosciutto, thinly cut before your eyes in the shop to order.

If you have additional favorite places in Brooklyn to buy cheese, please use the comment section to let me know!

Assorted Cheese at Tops on the Waterfront!

Is there any cheese in NYC?

New York Skyline from Brooklyn The answer to whether there is any cheese in New York city is a resounding YES! Monarchs of New York City Kathy and I are fortunate that Kathy’s sister Janet and Janet’s boyfriend Eddie (aka Edmund; film critic for BlackBook Magazine) live in New York, and that we, on occasion, get to visit them. This coming weekend happens to be one of those times…

Celebrating both Janet’s and Eddie’s birthdays, we’ll be able to once again enjoy the true metropolis of New York (San Francisco is a great city, and I love it, but New York’s deep-rooted extended history Eddie & Janet causes the town to have a completely different vibe that I enjoy). To be fair, we’ll actually be spending the majority of our oh-too-short-trip in Brooklyn, where, I know from experience, has some incredible cheese shops such as Bedford Cheese Shop. My hope is to visit there again; a perfectly placed corner shop with well-informed cheese mongers and a beautiful tin-plated ceiling.

Murray's Cheese Handbook Murray’s Cheese, also has a Brooklyn location nowadays, but its original location, opened its doors in 1940 on Cornelia Street (Near Washington Park) in Manhattan. It’s current flagship store is close to the original location, at 254 Bleecker Street, and is well known throughout the states for its quality, selection as well as education of cheese.

Artisanal Cheese Counter Another current day New York mainstay of the cheese community is Artisanal Premium Cheese, also located on Manhattan, just about 2 and 1/2 diagonal blocks from the Empire State Building. Not only does Artisanal have an excellent cheese counter, and cheese “caves”, it also has a full-service bar (where you can have drinks AND flights of cheese) AS WELL AS an amazing restaurant featuring… can you guess? Yes; cheese! I’ve had the pleasure Janet & Kathy of enjoying dinner there once in the past, and is well worth the experience if you have the time and money.

all this leads me to my question to you…

5th Avenue, New York With so many great, and historic, cheese resources in New York, WHAT type of cheese do I bring to N.Y. friends from California? The truth is, they can most likely buy any California Artisan cheese that I can think of in New York. So; what will/would be different (and tasty)?

and my second question;

What type of cheese should I try while in New York? Perhaps you have something to suggest, local to New York State perhaps, a cheese or two to keep my eye out for? We’ll be busy visiting friends and family, and will most likely spend the majority of our time in Brooklyn, but you can be sure that I try something, somewhere…

Thanks for any advice you can give in the comment section just below in the lower-right of this post.
 Shaking the cheese out of NYC

“Wicked” artistic cheese, and wonderful weekend.

King of Kings by Josh Ellingson Cheese and wine are natural friends, and there is an incredible art to pairing them well/correctly (entire education classes are offered at places such as at the Cheese School of San Francisco). When and why cheese and wine became synonymous with art openings, however, I am not certain. Very brief searches of the Internet did not yield anything (well, not quickly enough. I was hoping to find an article on the subject as a “first” hit in Google). I’ll take a few uninformed guesses; fine wine and cheese are traditionally (in America) not cheap, and were traditionally considered to be for refined tastes. People who might attend an art opening, are either often other artists, or people who enjoy, and can afford to buy, art. The wine and cheese, besides being excellent on their own, provide an art opening a certain air of sophistication due to the reasons I already mentioned. On top of that, it is perhaps more likely that a gallery will be able to sell art should the visiting patrons being both a little on the inebriated side, and fed.
When and how wine and cheese became an almost expected part of any art opening I am still not certain, but even in today’s economic climate, you’ll find them at art openings. This past Friday night (4/24/09) started a busy weekend for Kathy and myself…

Josh Ellingson First, a little history. When the Thunderbird Theatre Company decided to write and produce its first musical, “Rocket Girl“, we were VERY fortunate that local artist/illustrator Josh Ellingson came on board to help us with the graphic design elements for the musical. He designed the show’s logo, as well as several other print pieces for the production. Nowadays Josh continues to be a nationally (well; internationally) recognized and published illustrator, to the point that his art was even recently on display in space. Thanks to Facebook, Kathy and I were reminded on Friday that it was time for the; “Spring Open Studios at The Local 303,” home of Josh’s studio space. We see Josh, and his new work, too infrequently, so this was the perfect opportunity.

Uh, Bryce; Cheese?!?

Jason Dryg Yes, yes, “Inner-Cheese Voice,” I was getting to that, but to be honest I plan to stray from cheese quite a bit on this particular post… so as I was saying; open studios are an excellent chance to not only see new art, but also to have some wine and cheese. While in college we paid close attention to when art openings were almost exclusively for the wine and cheese… The Local 303’s  open studio was Jason Dryg Display a treasure trove of art (and cheese). We also got to meet one of Josh’s studio co-tenants, Jason Dryg, who has a very distinct style which mimics commercial art. As to cheese, there WAS cheese, AND there were hot dogs! It was refreshing to find both the tradition of wine and cheese being met, but also in conjunction with the pop-art feel of some of the work we saw, I was pleased to find the heartier down-to-earth fare being offered. Art without pretension.

Will you write home about the cheese that was offered?

No, but I will mention it here. A respectable quality variety of sharp cheddar, dill Havarti and Dutch Gouda were present, all tasty and all most likely purchased at Trader Joe’s; which is an excellent place to find and buy a variety of cheeses (both foreign and domestic) and prices which are at least 1/3 cheaper than the inflated prices of “gourmet” (ie non-consumer block cheese) cheese at larger grocery chain stores.

Cheese for art from Trader Joe's Hot dogs and art! Cheese and art; hand-in-hand?

Wandering the halls and studios of The Local 303, we noted that most all the kind food and drink offerings were likely from Trader Joe’s. One studio had a sign, however, next to a few crumbs on a plate, something about figs and Bellwether Farms’ Carmody. Arrived too late for that…

Families that share science together, stay together… As to the rest of the weekend, “cheesiness” continued… We went with our good friends Michelle and Alexander and their daughter to a Science Fair at Cal. State Hayward. Yeah, I know; they renamed themselves to Cal. State East Bay (so to sound more more metropolitan and to have prospective students believe Bryce has a hair-raising experience. they are somehow closer to the Bay than they are), but I just can’t call them that… The science fair was fantastic. Set up to attract kids to science, and to show science in a university setting. The event was perfect since college professors were there showcasing their work, and interacting with “kids” of all ages.

…and this has to do with cheese, how?

OK, it doesn’t. In fact, the single food stand was family perfect; hot dogs for $1, water, chips and sodas for 50¢ each. I did learn, Mind control (controlling computer cursor movement with our minds!) however, at a nutrition display that one “serving” of cheese is the size of about two dominoes. The daily recommended amount of dairy for an adult male of my age is three cups, which in this example equates to six dominoes of cheese (roughly 4.5 ounces). At the open studios the night before I must’ve had at least two days worth of recommended servings, so on Saturday I cut back… 

Sample Picture from Photo Shoot Sunday brought new cheesiness; the press photo shoot for the Thunderbird Theatre Company, conducted in our apartment. Our next production is “Aaron Trotter and the Incident at Bikini Beach” written by Peter finch of KFOG radio. Auditions for the show are Saturday, May 9th, 2009 and you can get all the details about the auditions on our website  (as long as you are reading this prior to May 9th, 2009Thank You picture for our Actors ). You may recall I mentioned last years photo shoot (and gave my favorite mac and cheese recipe) on Canyon of Cheese here. This year we had six actors/”models” for the press photo shoot, and six support people. Kathy and I (OK, mainly Kathy), made a brunch of pancakes, bacon, coffee, juice and plain Dutch Baby (recipe here on CofC). As to cheese, we only had some grated (Parmesan) for those of us who enjoy savory Dutch Baby… jam, Sample Picture from Photo Shoot syrup and powdered sugar for the sweet version. Our graphic designer/photographer Dana Constance took over 1000 photos, and we’re looking forward to see which make the final cut as the show’s press photo. The photos displayed are a couple that he let me have for this posting.

Kathy is Last, but certainly not least, the weekend ended in having an amazing opportunity to not only see the musical Wicked , but to enjoy a backstage tour by our friend Patrick who has been traveling with the show for… four years? It has finally made its way back here to Patrick’s home in San Francisco (you might recall that we visited Patrick while he was working the show in Los Angeles, and fed us an incredible meal with Feta). As the production’s Automation Carpenter, Patrick controls 90% of the large set piece movements throughout the play. For Kathy and myself the backstage workings of these kinds of huge productions are almost more spectacular than the show its self. I’m thoroughly amazed by how much design and expertise are used to create such a flawless show of this scale. In the independent realm of theater (our hobby), we use a lot of low-budget “tricks” to create impressive effects. True, shows such as “Wicked” do use a fair amount of smoke and mirrors to create the illusions they do, but what spectacular smoke and mirrors they are! A huge thank you again to Patrick for the intimate inner-workings tour of the show.

Patrick Backstage Bryce works for the Wizzard Patrick Backstage

…and this, again, has to do with cheese, by…?

IT DOESN’T, “Inner-Cheese Voice!” It just doesn’t, ‘cept that I was fueled by the cheese I had eaten in the morning. To satisfy your never ending interest in cheese, however, I’ll talk about the dinner we had Friday night at one of the many Mexican burrito shops in the Mission District of San Francisco ["El Balazo"]. As I’ve mention in the past, I’m always hoping to find an excellent Chili Relleno, but never find them… this one, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) was a 5. I wouldn’t have ordered the Relleno had the menu not claimed that it was filled with a special imported cheese. Regretfully, the cheese inside is no different than the bulk-produced mild cheddar and jack which was on top. It was still edible, good even, the price was right, AND IT HAD CHEESE, so I’m trying not to complain. In their favor, they were serving some of the most flavoriful refried beans I think I’ve had this year.

Kathy and Bandito Chili Relleno Dinner Bryce and a Chili Relleno