In this Debbie-downer world we’re living in right now, isn’t it good to know there’s a place where you can pull up to the curb, and a friendly person will hand you a bag of cheese, wine, and other delectable goodies? Right now, it’s shining moments like this that are beacons of happiness and hope.
Wasik’s Cheese Shop in Wellesley, MA, is one of those beacons, offering us a “taste” of what life used to be like and what it will be like again. While curbside pickup of cheese and wine is pretty awesome, it pales in comparison to the actual in-store shopping experience at this Central Street family business.
Odds are, just like me, there’s a premium grocery store within a few minutes’ drive from most of our homes, all with decent cheese selections. Yet, I go out of my way and head to Wellesley for my cheese!
Why? Because none of those fancy grocery stores can offer the experience of Wasik’s, nor the quality of cheese. When you walk into the cozy downtown shop, chock-full of goodies, either a Wasik or loyal employee, greets you with a boisterous hello, asking about the family and offering up a sample of whatever they might be cutting at the moment. And if you’re a newbie to Wasik’s, they will quickly bring you into the fold. The point is, you’ll never feel like a stranger once inside.
Even though I can’t go into Wasik’s right now, I can still enjoy their curated cheese and wine selection. It’s the curation that also makes Wasik’s so special.
Now, onto our latest Wasik’s cheese and wine adventure – Camembert and Burgandy wine!
Camembert & Burgandy
Even if you’re not a cheese freak, you’re probably familiar with Camembert cheese, often confused with Brie. You can generally find one or the other in the grocery store “cheese” section. But, you might also have been unimpressed with grocery store Camembert. That’s because (as Wasik’s has told me) cheese is a living, breathing thing. Just like an avocado, it needs to be ripe! Wasik’s knows when the cheese is ripe, and so you’ll never end up with a soft cheese that is too hard without any flavor or overripe with the stench of ammonia. At the grocery store, no one curates and monitors the cheese!
And often, there isn’t anyone who can explain the difference between Camembert and Brie. Both are soft cow’s milk cheeses with a bloomy rind. Brie tends to be more buttery and also has a higher fat content. That’s because some risk-taker decided to add cream! Want more cream? Try a triple cream cheese!
While still deliciously creamy, Camembert has a deeper “earthier” taste, a fairly strong smell, and I guess a little less fat than Brie.
And just so you don’t grab the wrong one, Brie is sold as “pie slices,” and Camembert comes as a wheel (usually around five inches in diameter ) and generally in a small wooded box.
Camembert has a serendipitous rise to cheese fame. Roughly 200 years ago, those cheese geniuses (the French) whipped up the first batch in Camembert, Normandy, introducing the world to a soon-to-be cheese staple.
During World War I, the little wheels became standard issue to the French troops – ingraining Camembert into the French culture and turning it into a superstar cheese.
Today, Camembert is made pretty much the same as it was 200 years ago, with a few exceptions, the rind wasn’t always been so white, and the packaging changed to the wooden box, allowing the cheese to come to America!
Cheesemakers give the rind its beautiful bloom by spraying fungus on the formed curds and let it age for at least three weeks. It’s then packed into the round wooden case and sent on its way for someone to love (and devour), one of which ended up on my cheese plate!
What to pair with this little round wheel of cheesy love? I left that up to Wasik’s. Traditionally, Camembert is served with Normandy Cider or Calvados (apple brandy). Spinning off that, Brad Wasik added gorgeous Champlain Orchard apples to my tasty meal for one, along with a smooth Burgandy wine, and of course, a fresh crusty baguette. Who doesn’t flip for cheese, fruit, wine, and bread? I was pumped!
Not to mention, the Burgandy was just what this tired mama needed!
Camille Giroud Santeray dos Rousseau, a dry and medium-bodied wine, was the perfect partner for the robust cheese and crisp and sweet apples. French Burgandy is a pinot noir. We’re all familiar with Pinot (RE: Sideways). So what makes a French Burgandy so good?
California Pinot Noirs are a bit more aggressive. A French red Burgandy is silky smooth. The tannins are refined; in fact, the entire wine is of a higher class, or at least the French think so.
I totally dug it, As in, I-drank-the-entire-bottle-and-ate-all-the-cheese-in-one-night dug it.
Here’s the deal, as it turns out, earthy and smelly (yet very creamy) cheese, plus crisp candy-like apples, and silky wine blend together perfectly. I even got a little crazy and made yummy little crostinis of melted the Camembert and apples. OMG – it was heaven!
If you want to go to cheese heaven and take a break from reality, I suggest you give them a call and order yourself (and if they’re lucky your family) a beautiful cheese plate to go! And remember, it doesn’t stop with the cheese – freshly baked bread, gorgeous produce, wine, chocolates, and charcuterie to go! I’m pretty sure all of the moms out there would be psyched to receive a cheese plate for Mother’s Day!
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