Saturday, September 22, 2012

Savaii Has Cheese!

As you may have deduced, I have a tiny little cheese obsession.  I crave it.  I dream about it.  I love cheese.  Stinky, runny cheese.  Firm, crumbly cheese.  Pretty much any kind of cheese except the processed kind, like Velveeta or the kind that comes wrapped in individual slices.  As far as I’m concerned, they’re just cheese wannabes.

Today, the visiting volunteers stopped at the Tuisivi store to pick up a few things.  It really is the best store on the island and I’m lucky to have it so close.  I’d asked one of the guys to pick up some cheese for me, if they had any and then laughed, since they’ve been out for three months.

He arrived with three blocks of cheese!  One was for himself, one I used with lunch and the other I’ll be enjoying the next week or two.

I bought some packaged roti at Farmer Joe’s when I was in Apia and stashed it in the freezer.  It looks and tastes exactly like tortillas but is 1/3 the price of the tortillas they sell. 

Tonight, dinner will be a cheese and green chile quesadilla along with a tossed salad.  Tossed salad is what I call raw cabbage and carrots.  At least it looks like a tossed salad.

Since I’m in such a positive cheese frame of mind, I’ll share a couple of ways I enjoy cheese.

First is cambazola (misspelled, I’m sure) which is in the blue family.  Imagine a mild brie with veins of bleu cheese running through it.  Put a couple of slices of the cheese on an English muffin.  Top that with some garlic that has been marinated in balsamic vinegar for five years.  You can find jars of the garlic at the farmer’s market at the ferry building in San Francisco every Saturday.  They are worth a trip there to buy them.

Stick under the broiler until the cheese is melty.  Enjoy in front of a fire while drinking a glass of red wine and enjoying a view of the San Francisco bay.  That’s what I frequently did late at night after work on nights I was too tired or lazy to actually cook.
Another favorite way to enjoy cheese is a Greek dish called Saganaki.  It’s also known by non-Greeks as flaming cheese.

You start with Kasseri cheese.  I soak mine overnight in brandy, then when I’m ready to cook it, I dredge it in flour and fry it in a tiny bit of olive oil until it’s golden brown and starting to get soft. 

To serve, put on a plate and pour a shot of heated brandy over the cheese.  Light the brandy and yell “Opa!”, then squeeze a wedge of lemon over it to put out the flames and add another layer of flavor.  Serve with crusty bread as an appetizer.  Your friends will be very impressed and beg you to serve it every time they visit.  Just don’t tell them how easy it is to make.

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