Couldn't resist leading with the beauty shot - this is the actual Cantal that ended up in the stomachs of some 25 gurgitators today at the first annual Cheese Eating Contest sponsored by Stinky Bklyn and Smith & Vine on Boerum Hill's food-lined Smith Street.
These contestants were a far cry from the rowdy lot that frequent the professional eating circuit -- most look cute and cuddly, like they'd call you ma'am and open the door for you, with no green dreadlocks, biker tatts or ginormous bellies anywhere to be seen.
But then they volunteered to consume 60 seconds worth of Cantal, one of France's oldest and most classic cheeses, named after the Cantal mountains in the Auvergne, with a flavor reminiscent of a mild white cheddar and a provenance of hay-fed Salers cows.
A little more refined, one might argue, than your average Coney Island weiner.
"One minute of cheese, is not really that much cheese," said the victorious Oliver Butler, after downing a couple of winning wedges, that amounted to about 6 ounces. "I think if I practiced I could eat twice that much next time." He'd never entered an eating contest before, he said, but did study the
masters and knew enough to start the day with a big breakfast to stretch out his stomach....and it worked! Witness the girth of the famed gold belt, and pray future cheese contests don't cause you to fill it, young man.
Anyone who lives in this 'hood where, incidentally, the Tomato Estate is located, is more than grateful for the appearance a few short years ago of Michele Pravda and her partner Patrick Watson who first opened the wine store Smith & Vine,
then later the cheese shop
Stinky Bklyn, right across the street.
Before they materialized, it was all scary plexiglass bullet-shield type liquor stores with dusty bottles of Chianti and plasticwrap feta at the Met Store. Now we just zip down the block for dry sausages from Spain, a chunk of Folie Bergere fromage, and some outrageously good olive oil, then proceed across the street to peruse the selection of Armagnacs and gaze upon the under-$10 wine table that is so chockfull of drinkworthiness.
Now if only we could convince Mark of the Doughnut Plant to stop opening stores in Japan and look a little closer to home...Boerum Hill, Mark, Boerum Hill.
Behold below, the happy cheese clan: from left Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Michele Pravda, Oliver Butler, and Patrick Watson.
The Family Food Supply, What to Buy and Why Food and Marketing Helps for the Homemaker --published 1934 by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.
Under the heading Further Guides to Food Thrift: "The cleanly store should be preferred. In all stores food should be covered so that it will not be touched by flies, other insects, mice, or unnecessary fingers. In this, the small store with cheap equipment may excel the large store with expensive counters and fine display windows."
In spite of the mind-boggling marketing muscle of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, there are places in the world where local soft drinks give 'em a serious run for the money. Here are three countries – fine destinations all -- where consumers give a resounding shrug to America’s soda kings, in favor of their own.
ITALY: Chinotto is a small bitter citrus fruit sometime called “myrtle-leaved orange” that grows in the Liguria, Tuscany, Sicily and Calabria regions of Italy. As an essential flavor component of Campari liqueur, its bittersweet notes are thought to open up the palate, which is why it’s often served before a meal. Chinotto is also the name of a dark brown soft drink made with the citrus and herb extracts, produced and consumed in Italy since the 1950’s. It hasn't caught on big in the U.S., although across Canada where it is sold as Brio Chinotto, it’s considered the perfect pizza companion. In the U.S. we can buy the San Pellegrino version. Its flavor is more grown-up than other drinks on this page,it's a little like slightly bitter root beer. It can be ordered through www.popsoda.com at $5.59 for 6.
SCOTLAND: Irn-Bru started life in 1901 as Iron Brew, then had to go phonetic in the 40’s since there was no actual brewing involved and truth-in-advertising laws were kicking in. The bright orange citrus soda outsells Coke and Pepsi, although it’s a close competition. When MacDonalds opened in Scotland,
they didn’t serve Irn-Bru until their stores were picketed. It is said the recipe is known by only two company board members and a written version is kept in a Swiss bank vault. In the UK it's sometimes mixed with vodka or whisky and is also mythologized as a hangover cure-all. You can order it in the U.S. although the coloring agents that make that nice neon shade are illegal here. Try the stuff out if you must – a 500ml bottles goes for $2.95 at www.britishdelights.com.
PERU: Created by an immigrant English family before the first world war, Inca Kola is a bright yellow, syrupy sweet soda reminiscent of bubble gum and bananas. The original formula came from an ancestral concoction involving the herb lemon verbena. A marketing campaign invoking national pride and a cultural predeliction for high sugar content have helped make it the official beverage of Peru. At one point Pepsi and Coke tried to fight it out for market
leadership but both flopped. Peruvians seem to regard Inca Cola as the sole complement to Chinese food, and some Chinese-Peruvian restaurants don’t bother to serve any other soda. Like much of South America, many Peruvians prefer to drink this and other sodas at room temperature. Buy it at www.amigofoods.com at $3.99 for a 2-litre bottle.
What's the next big thing? In Japan, Pepsi has released a soft drink called Ice Cucumber, a green soda with fresh cuke flavor. Too early to gauge its popularity but could be good with a healthy dose of Pimm's Cup...
Unititled (Public Opinion), 1991 Black rod licorice candy individually wrapped, endless supply, ideal weight 700 pounds, dimensions variable. Artist: Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996)
Gonzalez-Torres often used candy--wrapped chocolates, colorful hard candy, licorice--as a medium. Beginning this Sunday, June 10, his work will be exhibited at the 52nd Venice Biennale, where he is posthumously representing the United States.
Econo-Meals cook booklet published by Procter & Gamble in 1951. All recipes contain Crisco.
Veal Birds unedited, from Econo-Meals 4 servings
4 pieces of bonelss veal, aobut 1/4" thick 4 carrots Crisco for pan frying
Roll veal slices around a carrot. Fasten with toothpicks or tie with string. Dip rolls in flour and brown in hot Crisco. When well browned add 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook over low heat for 45 to 60 minutes or until meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper before serving.