Although I love owning my own business, I have to admit that working at a big and bustling company like Google does have its perks—like free lunches. Or rather, free artisanal cheese served at lunch. Luckily for me, I was able to take part in this phenomenon when a friend of mine, and Google employee, invited me to her workplace for lunch.
Google’s San Francisco office is pretty non-descript on the outside. I would never have guessed its location. There isn’t even a sign outside the building. When in the cafeteria, and I made a beeline straight for the cheese board at the end of the food line. There, I found: Burrata with quartered figs, Faribault Dairy’s St. Mary Grass-fed Gouda, Aged Mimolette, and . . . oh no ! I forgot to take a picture of the label of the last cheese! I hate when I do that! I guess I’ll just have to describe it to you. It was a fresh chèvre in the shape of a ball about 5-6 inches in diameter, although I didn’t know it was chèvre because it was coated in freshly chopped herbs.
I went for the burrata first. I have learned that San Franciscans nearly universally love burrata, me included. The burrata did taste great, but I was a little disappointed with the serving method. The burrata was served in a large tray—burrata on the bottom, figs and basil spread out on top, with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Everyone serving himself or herself effectively smashed everything together, so by the time it was on my plate, it was a flattened mess. I could try to console myself by saying the taste made up for it, but it didn’t really.
Instead, I reached for the aged Mimolette. It turned out to be quite good—you could say delicate. Its softer texture and milder flavor makes me think it is a younger specimen. It was definitely not as flinty as I am used to eating, but it had great balanced flavor. The characteristic saltiness was there, but it seemed more subdued, and blended with a light nuttiness, with a hint of the caramel flavor I tend to taste in the Mimolette.
Next up was the St. Mary’s Grass-Fed Gouda. I’ve heard of the Caves of Faribault, but I have never tried their cheese, which is literally aged in caves! By the time it had reached my plate, it had been sitting out for a while, and was starting to get a bit soft. It was almost turning buttery (not to say that it was sweating, though). When I took a bite, I thought it was fabulous! It had huge, lush flavor—mainly nuttiness and sweet grass. The texture was very silky, with just some fine sandy texture. The flavor just lingered in the mouth. I will definitely have to find more of it.
The last cheese to taste was the sliver of herb-crusted chèvre. WOW, was my first thought. It was unimaginably refreshing. The chèvre was light and fluffy, like a down pillow. The flavor was impeccable, and featured a surprising burst of lemon. The marriage between lemon and chèvre was perfect; it was as though somehow these goats were producing lemon milk. There was also very little tang from the milk itself; it seemed to come almost exclusively from the lemon. If only I knew the name! If someone out there has an idea of what it may be, please let me know!
If you were curious about the rest of the meal, I must say, Google does feed its workers really well! My friend got something from the sushi bar, but there is also a large bar for entrees, pizza as you walk in, a section for non-meat proteins, a couple of salad bars, desserts, and a formidable drink corner. After the meal, you walk out to a snack section where you can grab foods like Popchips, Judy’s Breadsticks, Hawaiian Sweet Maui Onion Potato Chips, or fruit. I think I saw small baskets of grape tomatoes as well.
In any event, if you were ever afraid that you would starve working at Google, lay your fears to rest.