Of Cheese and Crocodile’s Tears

Yesterday: Sampling decadent artisan cheeses, offered by a friendly cheesemonger in a crisp white uniform, in a clean bright shop that could be straight out of Paris.

Eleven years ago on the very same spot: Abandoned by a callous ex in front of the Fifth Column, I desperately begged a cabbie to take me back to Brookland even though I didn’t have enough cash to pay him. All the while being serenaded by a lurking crack addict.

Surreal just about covers it.

Cowgirl Creamery is at 919 F Street, NW, on a block that once housed nightclubs, porn shops, and sketchy characters. Now it has nightclubs, fancy hotels, and condo construction – ah, the power of revitalization to remake memories. In any case, I highly recommend a stop here for cheese lovers of all kinds -blue, creamy, smelly, goat, sheep, cow. Whatever direction your fromage-o-meter tilts you can get it here, presided over by an extremely knowledgeable and congenial staff. Bread is delivered from Breadline every Thursday, and there’s plenty of additional accompaniments like honey and preserves to make a killer party assortment.

Of the three cheeses I tried, the most intriguing was shaped like an oversized Hershey’s Kiss and covered with various brightly colored molds. In the eyes of fromage freaks like myself, that means gold. The name – Crocodile’s Tear – sealed the deal. Though I also tried sheep’s milk camembert and some goat cheese, the Tear was definitely my favorite that day. I don’t have the proper vocabulary those lovely cheesemongers were spouting like wine sommeliers, but to me it seemed delicately chalky, dense, rich, divine.

Now, artisan cheeses aren’t on the low end. These are delicious ounces of handmade food art, not Kraft American Slices. So be prepared and don’t go into sticker shock. It’s worth it for a special occasion or any time you need a high-quality dairy infusion, and the small sizes sold encourage you not to go too overboard on fat calories. A little indulgence is all you need.

And yes, eleven years ago, that cabbie took me back to Brookland, gratis. He took pity on the broken-hearted, teary-eyed fool that I was. Even that scary crack addict was just trying to cheer me up. Sometimes, with life as with cheese, a crusty outside hides a beautiful interior.

3 Comments so far

  1. Pagan Marbury (unregistered) on July 22nd, 2006 @ 10:37 am

    I’ll have to check out this cheese shop. My favorite little wine shop “UnWined” in the Bradley Shopping Center, has turned me onto several exotic cheeses- mango infused stilton, mozzarella with stripes of pesto and sundried tomatoes, Unfortunately, I live in DC so it’s a special occasion to go down there. Good to know there’s a closer option.

    Nice post about the contrast between then and now. Sometimes I miss the old days on F Street, too.

  2. Doug (unregistered) on July 22nd, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

    I once nearly lost several of my toes, believe it or not, in a frisbee “accident.” I won’t go into the details, but the doctor who was stitching me up, as I was laying prone while he worked on the bottom of my foot, wanted to exercise his bedside manners, as they used to say. Anyway, he was chatting away trying to keep me from going into shock from the procedure (and a large loss of blood before I made it to the ER).

    He asked me about my diet. I have always been naturally thin, perhaps this prompted the question. “Cheese,” I said was my favorite food, having lived in Wisconsin for many years when I was young. “Oh,” he said, “colored fat,” which stuck in my mind for some reason.

    The foot healed and I still love cheese, every variety and form. Mild and sharp, creamy and hard, colored and white, with holes and without, infused with fungus, and with too much salt.

    In the summer, a fantastic treat (besides fresh fruit) is warm tomatoes from the garden, buffalo mozzarella, fresh picked basil leaves, a good quality extra virgin olive oil, and a bit of salt and cracked pepper.

    I don’t understand this trend lately, avoiding milk and its derivatives. Soy cheese is awful.

    You forgot to mention figs.

  3. Mik (unregistered) on July 22nd, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

    Hmmmmm, should I miss the rollergirls recruiting for some roasted garlic and port salut? *sigh*

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