Gouda Life Goes Global

Ahoy, mateys! Greetings from my couch! Some of you may have heard about our overseas travels earlier this month. Well, the rumors are true, it happened. It was LEGIT. While pondering the last week or so about how to ‘blog about it,’ we were truly having a difficult time. As entertaining as it would have been to type out all of our journal entries from our trip, that would be personal, time consuming, and downright annoying. SO, being the cheese-minded person I am, I decided to compare each stop on our trip with a different type of cheese. Can you believe it? I can. We do plan on posting about each site with tips later (STAY TUNED!), but for now… let’s get cheesy…

Iceland Airport = Prairie Tomme

Iceland, travel, eurotrip, cheese, europe

Whaddup, Iceland

Brought to you by Weston’s own Green Dirt Farm, the Prairie Tomme is a great representation of the Iceland Airport. Never would I have thought to make Iceland a travel destination, but it is on my list now. Never would I want to take a chance on an ‘earthy sheep cheese,’ but bring it on. Iceland, like Prairie Tomme, is full of nature’s beauties. Mother nature does her craft, and we humans need to respect that craft and not interfere too much.

Munich, Germany = Parmigiano-Reggiano

Germany, Munich, eurotrip, europe, cheese

Lookin’ good, Munich.

Munich, Germany is FULL of history, people of all kinds, and beautiful sights. I chose to compare the beautiful city of München with Parmigiano-Reggiano because it is a tough city, and very important to the world we see today. In 1936, just outside of the Marienplatz, where a toy museum now stands, Kristallnacht took place. The beginning of the Nazi party, which eventually led to World War II, started 10 minutes from our AirBnB. SAY WHAT. We walked where that asshole HITLER WALKED?! Completely surreal. What a sicko. Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Parmesan, is a classic taste. It is an important cheese. Can you imagine pizza without parm? Pasta without parm? PARM WITHOUT PARM!? (Full disclosure, I have been known just to MUNCH ON SOME PARM. Even the fake stuff at a pizza joint.)

During World War II, 8 out of every 10 buildings in Munich were flattened. The people of München decided to rebuild exactly how it was, restoring the history and their roots. Parmesan is a tough cheese. Parmesan is a hard cheese, yet made with skim milk. Munich is tough, but its beautiful buildings make you feel as if you are in a fairytale.

Day trips from Munich are as easy as drinking beer in Munich (WAY TOO EASY). We took a trip out to Garmisch-Partenkirchen to see Germany’s highest point, the Zugspitze. From the top of Zugspitze, you can see the Alps of Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. We took another day trip to Salzburg, Austria. The homeland to Mozart and the Sound of Music. The trains are easy to use and a great way to see more of the land, so long as you can ignore the French couple FRENCHING THE ENTIRE RIDE TO GARMISCH (eye roll). Parmesan is like Munich in the fact that it goes with (to) everything (everywhere). Now don’t be one of those buttheads that’s all, “Yeah, it doesn’t go with, like, chocolate cookies, CATE.” My response, “Don’t knock it til you try it, yo.”

Copenhagen Airport = Squeeze Cheese

travel, eurotrip, airport, cheese, hot dogs, food

Hot dog in a French baguette — brilliant.

Energetic, quick, simple, and home of my first French Dog.

 

Milan, Italy = Feta

Italy, Europe, Milan, eurotrip, cheese

So dainty, Milan.

We were only in Milan for about 15 hours, but what we saw was beautiful! After spending far too long to find bus tickets (hint: anywhere you see a T outside, you can get a bus ticket), we reached Mila from Milan at our AirBnB. We grabbed a quick pizza dinner (duh) and headed back to shower and sleep!

Milan is like Feta because if it is your jam, IT IS YOUR JAM. Feta looks good, just like the fashion capitol of the world, and is a pretty straightforward cheese. You get what you get with Milan, and with Feta.

Cinque Terre, Italy = Mozzarella di Bufala

Italy, Cinque Terre, travel, ocean, eurotrip, cheese

Vernazza, Italy.

Cinque Terre. Where can I even begin? It. Was. Enchanted. Cinque Terre has the perfect combination of history, food, ocean, and hiking. Why did I pair it with Mozzarella di Bufala? BECAUSE THEY ARE BOTH MAGICAL AND I WONDER IF THEY ARE BOTH EVEN A REAL THING BECAUSE FEELING/TASTING/SEEING SOMETHING THAT GOOD CAN’T BE HEALTHY. Here is a lil’ background on Cinque Terre…

Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”) is a collection of five towns off the northwestern coast of Italy. From north to south, there is Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia (our homebase), Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Like I mentioned earlier, we will go into more depth of all of the locations we visited, but all you need to know about Cinque Terre is that it is known for their white wine, lemons, anchovies, and DOPE VIEWS. Each of the five towns has its own ‘thang’ whether it be a beach, a castle, or a “feel”. There are trails and trains that connect the five towns, with ma and pa restaurants, wine bars, and shops.

The first time I had a true fresh ball of Mozzarella di Bufala was actually in Pompeii, but the moment it hit my lips, I knew it was the most beautiful cheese I had ever eaten. Made from the milk of a water buffalo, this cheese is not only sweet and soft, it is nutritious with only 21% fat. Easily digestible AND delicious? SERIOUSLY, HOW DO YOU EVEN EXIST?!

Pompeii, Italy = Bleu de Chévre

Pompeii, ruins, travel, Italy, ruins, eurotrip, cheese

Girl you old, but you fine.

When you hear the word ‘Pompeii,’ you probably think of the ruins from the infamous Mt. Vesuvius. We did too. The ruins were absurdly amazing, and yet very chilling. I didn’t realize the SIZE of the town. It was a legit small town with streets, gutters, and community baths. Mount Vesuvius was phenomenal and ALSO fairly chilling. The steam vents were still steaming and it took me a while to realize I WAS ON THE TOP OF A FREAKING VOLCANO. I still can’t really believe I was there.

I chose to compare the city of Pompeii with the Bleu de Chévre because… it isn’t for everyone. Bleu de Chévre is made from goat’s milk, while most bleus are made of cow’s milk. The goat’s milk is then mixed with the starter penicillin culture. The magic happens, and you’ve got Bleu de Chévre. Goat cheese is hit or miss with some people, as is bleu cheese. Pompei was beautiful, seeing the sights, but the city itself was not for us. It was busy, dirty, and naggy (referring to the tourist companies and restaurateurs pestering for our attention). Once we saw it, we got our fill. Once you try Bleu de Chévre, you’ll get your fill and, chances are, you won’t need to go back to get more.

Rome, Italy = Cheddar Cheese

Rome, Italy, Europe, travel, eurotrip, cheese, roman, roma

RoMAN, you are cool.

Rome was fantastic. While touristy, there were so many things to do, you never felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of the city’s sights. We stayed down the street from the Colosseum, right in the heart of the history. There is ALWAYS something to do in Rome, something to see, something to eat, you name it. Rome is the birth of so many present day ideas such as concrete, water systems, and SPORTING ARENAS. One other little possible unknown fact is that cheddar cheese MAY have started in ROMA, ITALIA?! SAY WHAT!? 

Cheddar cheese has been traced back to the Romans, but it was not yet named ‘cheddar’ until the 16th century in Somerset, England. Cheddar cheese is the real deal. It is the basic. If you ain’t lactose intolerant, you most likely enjoy cheddar cheese. Everyone loves cheddar cheese, It is a STAPLE ITEM IN EVERY FRIDGE. Think of all of the renditions of cheddar cheese.. Just think about them. Sharp Cheddar, Blueberry Cheddar, Bacon Cheddar, Garlic Cheddar, SRIRACHA CHEDDAR (WHAT). They all stem from the beautiful masterpiece that is cheddar cheese. Without cheddar, without Rome, we wouldn’t have a lot of the things we have today.

So that’s that. Stay tuned for more details about each locations, our do’s and don’ts, and our eats and don’t eats.

-C

 

There’s a French Cheese Plate Hiding in Westport Cafe

Having essentially lived in Westport for over a year, you would think we would have hit every spot in and around its welcome arms. Realistically speaking, we had spent many, many hours within its confines, this much is true. But speaking from the heart, I’d be willing to bet 90% of those many hours were spent at Harry’s. I’m not ashamed to admit that.

Of course I’d heard of Westport Café and how delicious its offerings were. I’d always known of its existence but, for some reason, we’d never made the call to visit – and that was a terrible mistake.

Westport Cafe is nestled near the southwest corner of Westport Road and Broadway. Sitting inside, you can see passersby window shopping at Bunker or monitor the shenanigans taking place in the lot behind Riot Room and The Foundry. The scenery, regardless of which side of the spectrum it’s occurring on, is an enjoyable complement to the restaurant’s interior aura.

Inside, the restaurant is kinda shaped like this “E” without its middle phalanx. Reservations were made as a precautionary measure, but we could have walked in and sat down right away this particular Monday night. Being the cheddar recluses we are, we treated ourselves to a table near the back due to the fact that conducting cheese plate reconnaissance is tedious work, and also because Cate doesn’t like being seen taking pictures of food at restaurants, which I totally get but she started a cheese blog (¯\_(ツ)_/¯).

Anyway, we took our seats and were greeted by our waitress, Lindsey (I hope I chose the correct spelling), whose passion for the restaurant was evidenced by her extensive knowledge and pride of everything on the menu, and her sincere desire to ensure we loved it. She recommended some wine to pair with our eats, and in a delightfully succinct matter of time, a plate of cheese was sitting between my wife of two and a half years and I. It looked like this:

Gouda Life, Westport Cafe, Cheese Plate, Delicious

Really, just, look at it.

Gouda Life, Cheese Plate, Westport Cafe,

You’re looking at five different types of cheese varying in flavor, origin, stench, and texture. If cheese were Earth, we were about to travel across the globe (which we’re about to do, actually. Stay tuned for that). Let’s dive in.

Comté AOC

This stuff, guys. The French have been making this stuff – Comté AOC – for over eight centuries. EIGHT. This easy-to-melt cheese owes its flavor to the mountain pastures from which it originates, as well as two cow breeds native to the area – the Montbéliarde and the French Simmental. These French moo moos spend their summers grazing on beautiful flowers, and it’s abundantly evident in the flavor. Learning this all after the fact was a bit of a letdown, as Westport Cafe’s was a bit mild and blank. That said, the disappointment was brief, and we moved onto the next.

Ricotta

Westport Cafe’s Ricotta sat on our plate like a happy cloud in the sky – except portions of it were doused in a honey glaze. It spreads over bread with ease and melts in your mouth. The only problem with this Ricotta is it didn’t last long. I know there’s several, uh, disciplines within the Ricotta realm, and I apologize for being uninformed. Rest assured, you’d like it.

Danish Blue

Also known as “Danablu,” it makes sense this cheese is found at a French restaurant like this one – it was created as an acceptable alternative to imported (expensive) French blues. This stuff was aromatically present, and very obviously a blue cheese. Westport Cafe served it with radishes – for more POWER. Danablu – get to know it. Get to love it.

Aged White Cheddar

Cheddar, man. It’s good as-is, and it’s rare a day goes by without me consuming it. White cheddar is even better. Add the fact it’s aged, and you’re in heaven. They served it with green apple slices, and the moment the combination graces your tastes buds, it’ll try to make its case as the best moment of your life thus far.

Herbed Goat

The herbed goat cheese gracing our plate was perfect. Creamy with a solid, goat taste and enjoyed to the last dollop.

This plate marks the second we’ve reviewed in our short existence. While it sacrificed volume for variety, Westport Cafe did an excellent job of providing an absolutely delicious experience. Comparing it to its only competition (at the moment) in The Farmhouse’s offering, it proves to be challenging to rank one over the other. Taking in the other experiential aspects of the restaurant, I do believe we’ve found our new number one KC-based cheese plate, and a great restaurant we’ll be visiting again soon.

Other Musings:

After devouring the plate, we opted to get breakfast for dinner. Just look at this omelette, because my words won’t do it justice:

Breakfast for Dinner, Gouda Life, Westport Cafe

Another thing to note about this restaurant is its bathrooms. Easily one of the top-five bathrooms I’ve experienced – ever. I have no criteria for this list, but I knew it was special as soon as I entered.

Gouda Life, Westport Cafe, Bathroom

We had our fill, and our Westport Cafe experience adjourned. We thanked Lindsey, departed, and walked directly to Harry’s Bar and Tables for a night cap. A beautiful evening, indeed. Westport continues to effortlessly prove its substantial relevance in Kansas City.

Thanks for taking the time to read this through. To see our ranked cheese plate list – head over here, and be sure to read through our Farmhouse review, as well. If you have any places for us to check out, let us know! For more frequent updates, join us on Instagram.

-D

Gouda Life, Westport Cafe

Gouda Life, Westport Cafe, Cheese Plate

Gouda Life, Westport Cafe, I have this thing with floors

#IHaveThisThingWithFloors

Gouda Life, Westport Cafe,

Gouda Life, Westport Cafe, Gone.

See you next time.

Ikea: Even their cheese is dope.

So today was a regular old Monday. My week’s end was packed with old friends, new friends, a cold morning cheering to those admirable fools on Ward Parkway, and a Royals game. Needless to say, I got absolutely zero things checked off my actual ‘to-do’ list. Monday came without a warning saying, “Wake up biznatch, I’m bringing my A game.” That it did. Woke up with a sore-ish throat, Olive Garden pasta party for my students (shout out to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Student Series), recess duty– the works. I call my kärlek named Derek and say, “Ya know what, let’s meet at Ikea after work. I’ve got a few things to grab.” I knew he was hooked. The man cannot say no to Ikea. Nor can I.

By some grace of a monetary-conscious higher power, we checked out with only the items on my list. Say what? Let me break down our love for Ikea for you beautiful readers. Ikea opened in Merriam in September 2013. We moved out of an apartment into our house Halloween 2013.

“OMG LET’S FURNISH EVERYTHING. MODERN. CLEAN. WALLS. STORAGE. LIGHTING. EUROPEAN. CHEAP. MEATBALLS. STOCKHOLM LINE. SO SIMPLE. $.99 BREAKFAST. HOLY. YAS. IKEUH HUH!”

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been to Ikea since. I honestly can’t. If I had to guess, I’d say probably in the 20s. We know the ins and outs. The shortcuts, the new items, new locations of old items, everything. You will never, however, find us there on the weekend. And you will never see just one of us there. It is a team effort. It is like Netflix cheating, but probably worse.

So anyway. I mentioned earlier how we checked out with only the items of our list…but that’s not…entirely..accurate. As I’m finalizing my purchases, I suggest something along the lines of grabbing some cheese to review. I meet him at the cheese fridge and we talk it over. The selection wasn’t much, but it was doable. This was happening– I walked back to the cashier with a grin on my face- poor thing didn’t know what the hail was going on, but that’s okay. It was cheesin’ time. We choose the Herrgårdost, Prästost, and the Knäckebröd Flerkorn (AKA multigrain crispbread).

When you go to Ikea, you are probably looking for some housewares, something for storage, a cute vase to put those weird decorative balls inside of– crap like that, right? I have a new challenge for you: food. If nothing else, at least go in for their $.99 breakfast in the morning. Their food really isn’t that bad- in fact…it’s fantastiskt! So I had high hopes for our cheesy snack.

cheese, ikea, snacks

The Tripod

We’ll start off with ‘setting the mood.’ Now, get your mind of the gutter. I believe that all eating settings, especially those that involve cheese, need to be well thought out. Mondays at our house are “Hip Hop Mondays.” We listen to hip hop of all kinds, it is as simple as that. It is a great way to finish Day 1 of the work grind. I recommend it, and you can listen to the playlist here. The candle from Central Candle Co. is lit, the dog has a bone to play with. My cheese book is open with a pen and paper for notes. There, the mood has been set. First up, Herrgårdost.

cheese, ikea, snacks

Don’t let Herrgård down.

This cheese is a buttery Swiss-like cheese. It is the drier cheese of the two and tastes like a combination of Swiss and a mild cheddar. The package gave it 4/5 strength dots, but I’d disagree. The flavor wasn’t POW like other white semi-soft cheese. I’d give it 2/5 strength dots. This cheese has smaller and fewer holes than Swiss. I took the cheese without bread first, then tried it with the crispbread. I didn’t mind this cheese, but is isn’t one that I would hang out around on a Saturday night unless I’m a few glasses of cab deep. I’m also not the wild about Swiss either, so that is something to consider. According to my trusty World Cheese Book by Juliet Harbutt, Herrgårdost cheese was created in the 20th century as an alternative to Gruyére cheese. It is recommended to be paired with a fruity white wine and tangy fruit.

Before I move forward with the second cheese, I’d like to make a shout out to the Knäckebröd Flerkorn crispbread. Although the crisps come in large circles, they are easy to break apart and are just the right amount of crisp. Not too crispy that you bite into it and it falls all over your plate. This bread provides the perfect balance for these two semi-soft cheeses.

cheese, ikea, bread, crispbread

It’s flerkorn good!

And now for Prästost!

cheese, ikea, snacks

Let’s toast to prästost!

This cheese is GOOD. Without the crispbread, I got a MAJOR Havarti vibe from this cheese. Which in Cate world, that’s the good stuff. It even as the same creamy white look with little tiny holes throughout. This is a much sharper cheese than the Herrgårdost, but I don’t feel it deserves the 4/5 strength dots. I feel it is more of a 3/5. This is a stronger smelling, creamy and moist semi-soft cheese. After I slapped it onto the crispbread, DAMN. This Monday was turning around. The next date for me and Prästost involves two slices of sourdough bread and my stove top… YA FEEL ME? I have a strong inkling that this cheese will melt like my heart when I see puppies playing with newborn babies.

According to my World Cheese Book, Prästost means “priest cheese.” This cheese was created in the 16th century when farmers needed to pay a tithe to the church in the form of goods, often milk. HISTORY + CHEESE = Seriously some of my all time favorite things. This cheese pairs well with soups, and fruity red wines. I try my best to NOT drink during the week (unless its Wednesday and I’m with my frands, of course), but we shared a small class of Pinot Noir (that was all our Bota Box had to offer) and it was a match made in heaven. I feel this cheese would go superbly with red sangria on a patio on a beautiful spring dusk.

cheese, ikea, snacks

Brings tears to my eyes.

So, readers, friends, martians. Ikea has done it again. Next time you are in buying a laundry basket and/or some legit lamp, head on over to the Swedish market. It’s amazing how some cheese, good company, and hip hop can turn a very Mondayish Monday around. Until next time, keep cheesin’ y’all.

-C

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Taco Bell’s Quesalupa is an edible anticlimax.

One Saturday morning about a month ago, I was enjoying some coffee and suddenly became absolutely overwhelmed with exuberance. This was because a few moments prior, I had been alerted a Honda Element – the perfect Honda Element – was mine for the taking at a dealership in St. Louis. I’d gotten all the info I needed. It was flawless – dent-free, fresh rubbers, highest trim level, EVERYTHING. I’d talked the guy down a few thousand on price, and gotten our trade value increased by a couple grand. Things were great, and when Cate blissfully awoke from her weekend slumber, I informed her we were embarking on a trip to St. Louis to obtain the car of our dreams. The squeal projected from her mouth resembled that of a child who’d just been informed she was inheriting a pony. We packed our shit, made a playlist, and departed.

We sang songs and played games as we cruised – attempting to squeeze as much enjoyment as we could into the final hours of owning our current Element. All was well, friends, as we exchanged smiles, laughs and memories over the course of the trip. All of that ended the moment I laid eyes on the St. Louis Element. Everything the sales guy told me was inaccurate. Paint was missing on the back. The interior was home to a nest of flaws. There was a smell. We had been played by a guy we thought we knew.We felt betrayed. We felt wronged. It hurt, man. It hurt.

Eating Taco Bell’s Quesalupa was roughly the same experience, and nearly too much of a letdown for this gringo to handle.

Quesalupa review coming soon.

A video posted by The Gouda Life (@itsthegoudalife) on

The hype surrounding the Quesalupa was seemingly unavoidable leading up to its announcement during the SuperBowl, and I’ll admit we both bought in – big time. A delightful mix of fast, Mexican food greatness housed within a cheese-stuffed shell? Seriously, sign me up a thousand times. This blog needed it because of the cheese. I needed it like I need whiskey on Wednesday. So, Cate grabbed us a couple on her way home.

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The Quesalupa was wrapped in foil and hoisted up by a very hype-y paper holder. We bit in, and the texture was not as advertised. No melty cheese strings stretched from your bite to the Quesalupa. Speaking of which, the cheese within the shell was more like a cheese patty. Beyond that, it was really just your basic taco – meat, cheese, lettuce, and sour cream.

Much like the visit to Mungenast Honda in St. Louis, the Quesalupa was an excruciating letdown. That said, I think Taco Bell would have been better off if they had just let the Quesalupa sell itself. Sure, it would have still been a bummer, but with the overbearing levels of #hype they shoved down our throats, Taco Bell essentially mass-distributed sadness to the country’s entirety.

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All this aside, it’s important to remember that none of us are perfect. We all have a reliable set of skills, and you can’t blame TBell for reaching for the stars on this one. Taco Bell is a fantastic establishment, and Cate and I will still buy thousands of Crunchwrap Supremes and Cheesy Gordita Crunches in the years ahead. For now, Taco Bell just needs to go back what they do best – serving America delightfully shitty Mexican food.

-D

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Even the dog wanted no part of it.

7 Valentine’s Day Gifts for Your Cheese Lover

So I know you’re thinking, Gouda Life, the big day of love and romance is coming up and I need your help! What do I get my lover of cheese and holder of my heart? 

Well, you are in luck. Because I’m about to tell fill you in on a secret. For starters, I am a cheese lover, so I know what (most) cheese lovers want. I look at loving cheese on a spectrum. I, for instance, am on the far end of the spectrum. Not completely obsessed-on-the-verge-of-consuming-my entire-life, but I’m towards that end. Take this list and really think about the person you’re looking to swoon. Tweak some things if you see fit. These are just my recommendations to get you started.

I ask that you just keep in mind that this is a list focused around the whole day. To perfect the cheesy Valentine’s Day, it needs to be a complete experience. From the smells, the sounds, the feels, and the tastes. Alright, are you ready? Hold on to ya’ butts…

slicer

Sliced your way.

  1. Hand Held Cheese Slicer. I am always a fan of the fanciest cheese knives a girl can use (see number 4 on this list), but sometimes, I just want the perfect width of cheese of my choosing. As much as I’d like to say I’m a fan of the marble slicers with the handle and the wire attached, I’m not. From my personal experience, the wire only lasts about 3/4 of a brick of cheese before it needs to be replaced. Do they look cool? Absolutely. Do they work on the majority of cheese? No way. Is replacing the wire a pain in the butt? You bet your bottom dollar it is. I recommend a slicer similar to the Norpro Adjustable Cheese Slicer ($9.20 at Jet.com). This cheese slicer allows YOU to make the decision on how thick of a slice you’re looking far. Handheld, high quality, hard-cheese approved.

    winewipes

    Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.

  2. Wine Wipes. This is one of those things that I wonder, why the hell didn’t I think of this?! My answer to myself would be, Well, Cate. You didn’t truly enjoy a glass of red wine until about a year ago when you decided to become a semi-grown up. ANYWAY, I honestly haven’t used these yet myself, but how could they go wrong? No one likes wine teeth. If anyone tells you it’s sexy, they are lying to you. You can order all sorts of these bad boys online from WineWipes.com or at your local winery. (KC peeps, Cellar Rat has ’em!)

    crackers

    Crack is not an actual ingredient in these crackers.

  3. Snacks to Accompany Your Cheese. Of course the cheese is the Beyoncé of the evening, but why not step up the background dancer game? Nuts are always a good choice. Almonds are my personal favorite, but walnuts are a good go-to as well. Crackers or thin bread will add a unique texture to your platter. I’m mildly obsessed with what I always use to call Crack Crackers, but actually they are Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers. They add the perfect crunch to your cheese arrangement. My only warning is to NOT go overboard with flavors. Don’t overpower your Beyoncé, the queen doesn’t appreciate it. Other suggestions are of course, fruit. I’m not a fig girl, personally, but people say figs are where it’s at. I’m a simple cheese woman. Crisp red apples and BIG green grapes are my favorites.

    cheeseknives

    Aren’t they beautiful?

  4. Cheese Knives With a Story. Anyone who is anyone can waltz on down to Bed Bath and Beyond, use their 20% coupon, and get you a lovely set of cheese knives. I get it, I’ve done it. It’s a useful gift. But if you really want to woo your partner, take it to the next level. My husband found some pretty LEGIT cheese accessories from our (hopefully future) friends at Brooklyn Slate Co. They are a pretty sweet duo with a cool story and they make some LEGIT things. I would do some questionable things to get my hands on the Cheese Knife Essential Kit. (Just kidding, Mom, no I wouldn’t… I’ll just put them on my Christmas list…)

    Woodwick, candle, gifts, cheese

    Your nose won’t know what to do.

  5. WoodWick Candle. You need to SPECIFICALLY get a WoodWick. They look good, sound good, and by golly do they smell good. I recommend the Sand and Driftwood or the Bonefire. DAYUM.

    Record Player, vinyl, music

    Our set up.

  6. Record Player. Girl! You must be outside yo’ mind! At times, but I think it is essential in the perfect Valentine’s evening. We have recently become record player snobs and I think I ‘get it’ now. We’ve got ourselves an Audio-Technica AT-LP60 and it makes for some smooooothhh jammmmsss. Not too expensive, and does a damn good job. We’ve just started our record collection, but whatever you two love birds are in to, DO IT. We’ve been between Ray Charles and Minus the Bear.

    Cheese, gifts, love

    Treat yo’self.

  7. Cheese. Of course! How ever much or little you want. Try out a new cheese together. Get recommendations from your local cheese shop. Whatever cheese you get, enjoy it with the one you love.

That’s all I’ve got. May you and yours grow ‘mold’ together and enjoy this Valentine’s Day!

-C

And a Very Happy National Cheese Lovers Day To All

Cheese Plate Harry's KC

Today is an important day. Some (we) may argue it’s THE MOST important day of the year.

Friends, colleagues, family, and everyone. Today, we come together to celebrate National Cheese Lovers Day.

We wish you the best and hope cheese finds its way to your stomachs very soon.

If you’re in KC, try the plate above from Harry’s Bar and Tables in Westport, or head over to The Farmhouse in the River Market for their plate (we just reviewed it), or do both!

The point is, guys, just get out there and eat some good cheese with some good people. Talk rubbish and memories, share some laughs, and enjoy yourselves.

Yours,

D & C

Cheese Pizza Eno's Dallas

This delicious pie is from Eno’s Pizza Tavern in Dallas’ Bishop Arts District.

Fromage from The Farmhouse

Spontaneity. It takes many forms and is enjoyed best in moderation. For some, it’s dreaded and avoided at all costs. For others, it’s a necessity utilized to combat the fatigue culminated from the work day. It’s likely clear which side I land on.

Friday was nearing with an absence of plans. This being the case, we seized the opportunity to review our first cheese plate. Naturally, I inquired the internet for some guidance, and I found myself conveniently reading This is KC’s brief-but-to-the-point bullet list on great local cheese plates. Cate and I don’t spend near enough time down at the River Market, so the decision was simple: We’d check out The Farmhouse.

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Dimly lit, we entered around 8:15. We were seated towards the back, obviously so we could conduct the intricate process of delicately stuffing our mouths with dairy products and  thinking deeply about each bite. Taylor, our delightful waitress, brought us our menus, but the decision had already been made. We’d be taking their Assorted Local Cheese Plate, priced just right at $13. With no idea what the assortment would entail, we anxiously awaited our plate over their house wine, Farmhouse Red. After a quarter-glass of wine’s time, the plate arrived:

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Four cheeses awaited our review, each beautifully and artistically placed – all surrounded with a wagon circle of sauce. Joining us was also a basket filled with pallet equalizers, which I enjoyed far too much. Following a brief introduction to the four, we dove in. Here’s how they tasted. We’re working from left to right in the picture.

Herbed Goat
I would categorize this one as a spreadable goat. We decorated the crackers with it, adding some crunch to the already powerful flavor. The Herbed Goat packed an addictive punch, suggesting only a few tastes would suffice. Fortunately, the portion was perfect. I would have eaten too much had there been more. Whipped and fluffy, this stuff wasn’t crumbling anywhere.

Tillamook Cheddar
Easy to cut, soft but holds its form. Soft yellow color suggests its a cheddar you’ve met before, and the taste greets you like a drink after a long day. The world would be a better place if more people were like this cheese. Cate says a good cheddar hits the sweet spot – located by taking your pointer fingers and touching  your “jaw joint,” then by moving your fingers towards your chin about one knuckle’s length. That’s the sweet spot. That’s how you KNOW. This one resided here.

Finally, a delicious honey butter enhanced the experience. Fantastic.

Dirt Lover Goat
This one looks like a brie at first until the knife cuts. Eat with the rind – that adds flavor. Dirt lover rind is coated with vegetable ash, giving it an old-world flavor and a unique look. Very easy on the eyes for a cheese platter viewer . Odorless and very soft. Just like cotton candy, it’s there and gone.

Prairie Tom Sheep Cheese
The plate finished with my first-ever sheep cheese experience. The two, small triangles are all you need. This stuff stank, but it stank just right. It’s very odd finding such an odd smell so enticing.

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The Farmhouse won us over. After finishing the plate, we sat back and enjoyed the environment. Art hung haphazardly from the walls, provoking questions and conversation. We found ourselves with another glass of Farmhouse Red. Looking around, you can tell the appreciation The Farmhouse has for it’s local partners. Proudly listed on a large chalkboard on a middle wall, we were able to see the places from which our cheese originated.

Being the first plate we’ve reviewed, The Farmhouse’s Assorted Local Cheese Plate is ranked #1 on our KC-based Cheese Plates. For how long it holds it’s dominance is yet to be seen. We’ll all find out in February, when we hit our next shop’s plate. Location TBD.

We both learned a lot during the experience, including the fact that spontaneity, at least in our lives, takes the the form of a cheese plate. We also need to get over the self-inflicted awkwardness that comes with taking multiple photos of cheese in public.

As always, thanks for taking the time to join us. Until next time.

-D

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Sense of community from farm to table.

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Nine Things I’ll Actually Do in 2016

Enough with the bow-shit of new years resolutions. Here are the things I’m A C T U A L L Y going to do in 2016. I’m about to spit some real talk…

  1. Make my bed. Bless my husband’s heart. I deem myself an organized freak show, but when it comes to making my bed, I drop the ball in all the bad ways. There is literally nothing that comes close to going to bed with fresh and so clean-clean sheets. Shout out to Derek for doing this 96% of the time and me just being a lazy arse and waking up in the morning with juuust enough time to moan, then groan, then pee, change, eat breakfast (often provided by D Stein) and walk out the door. I am not a morning person and it is starting to show.
  2. Read more books. For heaven’s sake. If you aren’t making time for leisurely reading, what the hell are you doing with your life? Side note, I really need to start reading all of the rando books I buy at book sales that I say I’ll read ‘right away’ and then life happens and I’m all, “Ugh, sorry bro, you’re like 14th in line.”
  3. Hug more. I, for some forsaken reason, never have been a very touchy feely person. The first time I cried during a movie was in 8th grade at my friends hotel-sleep-over party and I watched Fools Rush In (You know, Chandler Bing and Selma Hayek, babies born…). That was the FIRST time I ever shed a tear for a movie slash anything. The joke was that I had no soul, but really…what was wrong with me? I have feelings, lots of them. Mostly they are loving feelings, but I am really bad at showing them? So if I’m awkward next time you see me, just know that I am trying my best to show my love and gratitude.
  4. Find the silver lining. I’ll be honest, work has not been my most favorite activity lately. Sometimes that silver lining can feel as far away as Mordor from the Shire (SPOILER: That is a long effin’ way away.) It has been hard, a lot of pressure from a lot of different things, at the same time I’m trying to stay ‘cool’ with 10 year old boys and girls, so that alone has been a challenge. But I need to focus on the silver linings of situations I can’t necessarily control. I’ve been trying my best, and the other day I truly saw that silver lining.  I have two Hispanic boys in my class that I particularly have been working on bonding with (“Whatevs, Mrs. Stein, you are lame and don’t know how to bond”). So these two boys are the sweetest thing since Sweettarts, but I really have been trying to get to know them. So I recently told them I was trying to learn Spanish on the Duolingo app. They asked what that was and I explained, and then something magical happened. Marco and Alejandro** opened up to me. They joked about Mrs. Stein being a “loco maestra” and just LOLed real hard when they knew that I knew what they were saying. It was amazing. The other day I was writing on the board as my students walked in one morning and I heard, “Good morning, Mrs. Stein!” in the most beautiful English from behind. I turned around and it was my little Marco. I could have crumbled into a pile of happiness right there. Silver linings exist y’all. You are making a difference, even if it is in a morning greeting. That is beautiful. Leaving your cart at Aldi for someone else to take. Give them the $.25. Holding the door open for something that already looks pissed off. Asking a cashier how their day is going. It is worth the smile on their face.
  5. GIVE. I need to give more. Whether it be my time, my advice, my money. It doesn’t matter. Giving makes this world go round. I have been OH SO BLESSED with the things I’ve been given and what I have worked for. I have been provided opportunities that others haven’t, and I need to recognize that, appreciate it, and give back to this beautiful karma that has been with me for 27 years. I volunteer here and there (shameless plug to Girls on the Run and Reach Out and Read KC). But, I need MORE. I crave MORE. Time sometimes isn’t available, but I need to figure out a way to payback this kismet that I have been given.
  6. Garden. If you know me well, you’ll know that I like to reduce, reuse, and recycle on the REG. Being a 1 year homeowner, I have just recently experienced a true backyard garden. You wanna eat healthy? PLANT A GARDEN. Support your local community? PLANT A GARDEN. Save the bees? BITCH, PLANT A GARDEN. Last summer, I felt the most pioneer-woman I have ever felt. I grew tomatoes, red peppers, and serrano peppers in my garden and MADE A FREAKIN’ SALSA with it. Woman card: achieved.
  7. Send more snail mail. I am all about the good kind of excitement. Note: I wrote the good kind of excitement. I get absolutely n0 pleasure from opening up a can of biscuits. In fact, I can’t even do that shit. It terrifies me. I make my husband, my dog, my invisible friend open up a can of biscuits before I submit to doing it. I digress… snail mail is the best. I feel like a fool when I get home from a late night at work with a goofy look on my face and say, “Did you get the mail?!” Bills are bills. They’ll never end. But snail mail is where it’s at. The person who sent it was thinking about me. For a long enough period of time to write/draw something, fold it, slap a stamp (super expensive) on it, and send it my way. Snail mail is a happy-gram waiting to happen.
  8. Break my phone habit. This is ironic because I’m typing this on my computer which I will eventually check on my phone. But I have a serious problem. I have an addiction to my phone and it makes my SICK. I am ‘that’ person. I don’t deem myself a “basic bitch,” but I might as well. At a stop light, I check my phone. During a Netflix marathon, I check my phone. During a dinner with a long lost friend, I check  my phone. As I’m writing this blog, I’m checkin’ my phone. I post my most recent #tbt and OH HELL YES I CHECK MY PHONE. I live for those damn orange notifications. What is my life? Since when am I a person who needs peer recognition in order to feel successful? This needs to end, asap.
  9. DO THE DAMN THING. This refers to: everything. This blog? DO IT. Go out to dinner with friends I haven’t seen since high school? DO IT. Plan that girls trip that we’ve been talking about for 6 years (lookin’ at you, ladies), DO IT. I’ve been saving my money, my energy, my time, for stuff that I am too big of a wuss to do. Work on my beach bod? Get off my big fat white butt and take care of that nonsense. I’m not going to sit here and say, “I’m going to eat salad for 20 days of the month and run 1 marathon every two months.” If you do that, bless your beautiful, healthy heart. I’m a realist, I know that I need to do work on my health, but I am not going to go cray-cray and commit myself to daily Cross-Fit workouts. I know very well I don’t have that discipline, but I’m going do to something, damnit. Even if it means no more Joe’s Pizza after over-served evenings in Westport, that is a damn win in my book.

So yeah. Now that this is published on the inter-webs, I better freakin’ stick with it.

*Mic drop*

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Bring it, 2016.

**Names have been changed for child privacy.

A Casual Cheese Fan

Following in Cate’s footsteps, I, too, would like to borrow a few of your life’s precious moments to introduce myself, and explain exactly what it is I plan to do here.

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Girl, you know this pouch is packed with cheese.

My name is Derek. My mom calls me “D.” My dad calls me “DD.” My close friends utilize vague pronouns to attract my attention, as they may have actually forgotten my name. Now that I’m thinking about it, this is of great concern. MOVING ON.

I greet each day with a crippling dose of optimism armed at my…waist – ready to unleash it upon innocent bystanders at a moment’s notice. That may sound merciless, but this is just how I live. THIS IS WHO I AM.

A proud product of Kansas State University, I am literally bursting at the seams with purple. You may think that, considering I’ve exchanged marital vows with a KU graduate, our relationship may be a bit abrasive at times. Well, you’re partially correct, but it’s only so during college basketball’s conference play. Outside the aforementioned times, our marriage consists of nothing but gleeful bliss and, of course, cheese.

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We make it work.

Speaking of which – I’ve always liked cheese. Want some cheese on that burger? Yes, please. Some powdered parm on your lasagna, sir? HOOK IT UP. Shredded, sharp cheddar to accompany your salad, your grace? Wouldn’t eat it without it, bub. You get the idea, gang. Like most folks, I’m a casual fan of cheese. I’d say it most resembles Adele adorers (Adelorors?). Everyone likes Adele a little bit, right? But they’re not, like, counting down the days until the Adele show, ya know? A much better metaphor surely exists here.

This all changed when Cate graced my existence with hers.

Cate’s obsession revealed the key to her heart. When she was en route to Manhattan, one could find me en route to Dillon’s to stock up on all the cheese my Sunglass Hut salary could afford. Following our responsibility-fueled jaunts (greetings to parents and family members, current/future occupational supervisors, and potential voters!) to Aggieville, I would masterfully concoct cheese-based dishes, slowly but surely winning her over. These one-of-a-kind creations would be graced by entry-level cheese products including Cheeze-Itz, American Cheese Slices, bricked cheddar and mozzarella, Squeeze cheese and, I assure you, much, much more.

To me, cheese is much more than a good you consume or adorn other dishes with. It’s become more of an avenue for me. An avenue that’s lead me directly to Cate and her delightful family. This is why, dear reader, I’ve accepted my fate as a cheese Adeloror, and why you’re reading this today. I look forward to discussing cheese and life in-depth as this blog develops, and do hope you enjoy it.

Welcome to the Gouda Life.

– D

The Intro

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Here we are. The time has finally come. It has been a long time coming, whether you’d like to believe it or not. Years of discussing, debating, name-changing, nay-saying, and yay-saying, it all stops here. Whether you stumbled upon this blog or if you are a near and dear friend of mine, I hope you stick around.

Don’t think of this as your every day ‘foodie and wine’ blog. And don’t you dare think of this as your go-to spot for the latest Pinterest do’s and don’ts. I’ll be honest, you’ll read about food and wine and by golly you’ll read about home improvements– but there will be more. Much more.

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself.

My name is Cate. I have an undeniable, uncontrollable, and sometimes embarrassingly overzealous love for dairy products, specifically cheese. It all started back when I was a wee little lass, trying to find my way in this crazy world. My mother told me that I never stopped talking, even as a baby, I would just make noises and ‘talk’ non-stop. (Being a teacher to 9 year olds, I have since apologized to my mother, profusely.) Eventually I started making a little more sense and I began to repeat a single word from my highchair which my parents discovered meant ‘cheese.’ (I’ve checked the baby books, no record, unfortunately, of what the word actually was). Years passed and my love for cheesy foods only grew stronger. After a childhood cheese themed birthday party, cheese clothing and accessories, and the introduction of wine and cheese pairings into my life, the fact was real: Cheese is my passion.

Now there is more to me than cheese, just so we are clear. I am a teacher of small minds, a reader, a camper, a concert-goer, an explorer, and a mother to the cutest four-legged mutt in the world. I prefer the toilet paper to be rolled over, not under. Music is a must in my life, as well as laughter and corny puns. I love being outdoors, but don’t mind a night in with my sweatpants, some wine, and catching up on Scandal. I married my partner in crime in November of 2013. He’s the epitome of a best friend and one hell of a writer. Not to mention he is incredibly good looking. You can learn more about Derek later.

“So what is this blog?” You may be asking. Well, it is a little bit of everything. My dream for this blog is to teach, inspire, and to make you laugh, my dear reader. A Cheese + Lifestyle blog that includes just that: cheese and life. It may mold (see what I did there) and change as we grow older, as our family grows, but that’s life, with cheese.

-C