By now, I’ve been working at my new cheesemonger gig for several weeks, and I’m enjoying myself thoroughly. Because of the enormous volumes of people moving through the store (we’re in the Ferry Building, one of SF’s most popular tourist destinations), the mongers here really need to stay on top of their game to get through every day.
There’s a lot I need to catch up on, though, especially cheese production, or breaking down + wrapping. I’m not quite at the level I want to be, but I think that will come with time. Slicing through wheel after wheel of different cheeses really lets you understand how to manipulate each one. It’s like unfurling a precious tapestry. Plus, cutting the harder cheeses on the wire offers a great oblique exercise! I’ve learned that the heavy, broad goudas offer the best workout, since they can be made up of up to 30 lbs, and are as solid as bricks. ;) Smaller cheeses, like Bellwether Farms’ Pepato or Pecorino Foglie di Noce, are cut at the counter with small knives. I have gotten pretty good at that, tearing my way through wheels like a raptor might claw through its prey.
Of course, after a cheese is broken down comes wrapping. I have always loved wrapping cheese, which I have always likened to wrapping presents. At my last job, I worked with a gorgeous cheese paper that folded into neat, crisp pleats for customers. Here, things are a little different. My new shop uses a specialized plastic wrap that allows for the cheese to breathe. It’s great for the cheese, but it’s so tricky to work with! It doesn’t hold folds, so I am constantly fumbling with to keep the plastic taut. On top of that, I’m wearing latex gloves. The first time I wore them, I felt like a penguin trying to roller blade across the Sahara. However, seeing how well my more seasoned colleagues fare, I’m sure I’ll improve with time!
That said, there are so many cheeses I can’t wait to share with you.
If you’re in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, come by and say “Hi!” at Cowgirl Creamery!