Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Love Story, Starring Goat Cheese



"If you'd feel comfortable, you could just send us a check."

That might be all that's needed to convey the adoration I feel for the extraordinarily nice lady who sold me the one of the best chunks of cheese I've had in the U.S. But there is a bit more to the story.

Friday was a day off for me, thanks to the 4th of July holiday weekend, and I took the opportunity to reestablish the farmers market habit I'd let slide yet again. The parking gods bestowed a meter-free spot upon me, and I made my way to the stalls, armed with a 20 dollar bill.

Taters, maters, cukes and zukes, check. Peaches look nice, great, I'll take two. Sure, may as well pick up a pint of blueberries for a buck. Might as well wander the other leg, see what's going on there, see how many people I can spot drinking beer at 10 in the morning (three, maybe four).

Halfway down the northeast leg of the "H" that forms the market, there stood a lady dressed in a long-sleeved, flower print dress and apron, a bit of black lace covering her bun. But it was the incongruity of the latex foodservice gloves that stopped me in my tracks.

She smiled brightly and said, "Would you care for a sample?"

I set down my bags. "Yes, absolutely."

She took me through the options, and I decided on the Fleur de la Vallee (literally, "flower of the valley," a hard aged cheese). It was magnificent. Nutty, salty, amazing texture, and I immediately knew I had to have some to take home. When I reached for my cash, though, I realized I didn't have enough left; this is not cheap supermarket-brand cheese.

"We take credit cards and checks, too."

"Ah great, here's a card."

That's when she discovered the wireless card machine wasn't working. It just kept saying it was dialing. She went out from under the iron awning, saying it sometimes interfered with the transmission.

She kept trying, apologizing intermittently as she excused herself to offer samples and answer questions. I was perfectly happy to watch the river of passersby as I waited -- it's half the reason I go to that particular market. We chatted a bit about the cheese, and I realized as I was standing there that this was the Amish goat cheese I'd read about recently and had been wanting to try.

Finally, she fixed her kind eyes on mine, uttered the words at the beginning of this post, gave me a business card, and sent me on my way. I thanked her for trusting me as I put the hunk of cheese in my bag.

And now I feel compelled to urge you, dear readers: If you live in the St. Louis area, do yourself a favor and seek out Baetje Farms goat cheese. They're at Soulard Farmers Market every weekend, as well as other markets, wineries and at least one restaurant. Their motto is "Committed to quality from start to finish," and if you consider customer care as said finish, I can tell you that they are deeply true to their motto.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a check and a thank-you card to write.

2 comments:

  1. This stand is my favorite at the Soulard market. Such nice people, and such DELISH goat cheese. The cranberry-orange is a fave, and surprisingly great on salads. The chive is incredible, as is the cracked black pepper. Hell, they're all good! Also try the mini-donut stand on the northwest (I think that's right) leg of the H. They're as much fun to watch being made as they are to eat!

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  2. A good story

    GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

    Voila: www.tastingtoeternity.com. This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

    From a hectic life in New York City to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of www.fromages.com. Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

    “Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.”

    I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

    I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.

    Enjoy.

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