Americans will make a decisive choice this November between two potential options. But this October at Central Market, they’ll get the chance to choose from more than 600 of them – and unlike the election, they’ll be able to choose as many as they please.
It’s Central Market’s Hail To The Cheese event, where 650 cheeses will be featured and festooned; chevres, cheddars, bries and roqueforts – nearly every culture and country has a cheese representative, and during this two-week fest, Central Market will celebrate them all. To guide us through the choices that Hail to the Cheese presents, we spoke with Jordi Reig, Cheese Manager at Central Market on Greenville and Lovers Lane in Dallas, to see if he could shed some light on the options.
Thanks for talking with us, Jordi. What exactly can we expect to find at Central Market over the next two weeks?
All sorts of cheeses from all over the world. We have domestic, then domestic artisan – the cheese makers that still make their cheese the artisan way. We have cheeses from the obvious countries in Europe; Italy, France, Spain – and I am from Spain, and so I have to love cheese – Switzerland, and Germany, but we’ll also have cheeses from the Middle East, like Halloumi – really, wherever they make cheese, we’ll get it here. It’s also about what cheeses can go with, too. We’ll have cheeses all through the store – the Beemster Gouda by the apples, for example – that indicate what goes really well with a style.
We’ll also have classes and cheese makers here to talk about their cheese. We’re going to have a cheese carver from Wisconsin and an English couple make Huntsman Cheese, which is Double Gloucester on the outside and Stilton on the inside, and they make it right here in the middle of the store!
It certainly seems to be a good opportunity for a cheese lover to expand his or her horizons.
Oh yes. A lot of cheese makers bring special cheeses to this event, cheeses beyond what you typically hear about. There are cheeses where maybe they’ve done something differently this year, and they want to highlight at this event.
But it’s also something before the holidays, to get you in the mood. It’s a chance to learn more about cheese. We offer classes, and every time customers come to the floor we like to talk about them. Although many of our customers know a lot about cheese already, many ask for our advice on how they can use the different cheeses.
The great thing about it is that we have cheeses for those who are very well versed or for those who are just learning about cheese. For instance, most people think that blues are very strong cheeses, but there are blues that are very mild. So that’s the way we do it. So this can be a starting point – there’s cheese for everybody. Normally what I ask people is, ‘What kind of cheese do you like?’ and go from there.
You mentioned the Beemster Gouda – is that a particularly special cheese for this celebration?
The Beemster is special. It’s a gouda, and the story about this cheese is that typically, it’s a young cheese. It’s usually a cheese that’s made from the first milking from the first grass of the spring. But this year, they did it differently. Instead of a young cheese, where the normal aging period is three months, they aged it for five years. It’s a 2007 cheese and Central Market got the whole production. Everything they made, we got. And it’s beautiful; it’s really, really nice. It has the same qualities that the Beemster typically has, but you get more concentrated, nutty flavor in there.
What is one of your lesser-known favorites?
I have to tell you something from Spain, since I’m from there! It is called Flor d’Esgueva, and it is made in the fashion of Manchego, but since it’s not made in La Mancha – La Mancha is the region of Spain where Manchego is made – it cannot be called Manchego. This cheese is made a little bit up North, in Central Spain, where there are hills with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries – the cheese is not made with those, but it has that aroma. It’s a beautiful cheese with this sort of fruity, nutty aftertaste. Great with wine.
Fortunately, Central Market has plenty of that, too.
And beer, too! Not as many people appreciate it, but beer can very good with cheese.
Just about everything is, though, right?
(Laughs) That’s a good point!