Thursday, October 30, 2008

Weekly Dig: DIY cheese

This article marks a sort of tipping point for me in my life as a budding food writer. After this, I realized that I may have to cut back for my own health. Because on the one hand, who gets paid to eat the best cheeses in Boston? Only the luckiest of lucky people. On the other hand, who has time to work a day job AND take freelance assignments that involve warm ricotta and luscious cheese pizza and mascarpone-stuffed burrata AND also work off all these calories? Not me.

I fear I am much softer around the middle than I was in my sports-playing, dry-toast eating days, which are not so far behind me. Recently I've started thinking about cutting way back on food writing and covering something healthier, like politics (which never fails to make me lose my appetite, although it also makes me want to drink). Or music (where meeting some of my favorite artists and finding out that they were idiot savants made me wonder how Lester Bangs survived the inanity of it all...oh right). Or international events (because a good case of African dysentery or a slog through the meat-eating Middle East would certainly help me lose weight, if not my mind).

I've also thought about going vegan and giving up cheese entirely (that will never happen). Or becoming a macrobiotic Buddhist chef. Or joining one of those quintessentially Bostonian crew teams and rowing down the Charles every morning at 6 am. Or training for the Marathon. Or something -- anything to introduce a sense of discipline and moderation into my psyche, where right now there is only a gaping, unfillable hole of "yum!" and its inevitable consequence ("zzz"). Especially since we're heading into the holiday season. Any food writers have tips on how they keep it all together - and keep off the pounds? Let me know.

Now that I've gotten this dietary rant out of the way, I can say that I actually enjoyed writing this piece. Over the course of one week, I met the following food stars:

- Lourdes Smith, the badass cheesemaker at Fiore di Nonno
- the legendary Lydia Shire, who was far less intimidating than her reputation suggests
- Rocca's very friendly chef, Tom Fosnot, who gave me a great and rennet-free recipe for ricotta (a boon for this cheese-loving vegetarian)
- wunderkind Boston chef Will Gilson, whose food is the best expression of my personal idea of culinary perfection (fresh, seasonal, flavorful, simple, original) I've experienced in a long while.

So for that, I'm willing to shelve my diet complaints (temporarily!) since I got to have my cheese and eat it too.