In The Weeds With Ben Randall

My buddy Ben is running a podcast about his experiences working in the restaurant industry over at In The Weeds!  If you are averse to colorful language then you may want to stay away, but everyone else should give it a go.  As an insider’s view of the industry, it really brings me back to my days at Pizza Hut, Old Chicago, and Pioneer Pies and the absolute madness of them.  Ben’s got some great, funny stories and is just a stellar dude to boot so head on over and give him a listen!

Stinky Cheese Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Yes, that is my Hello Kitty lunch box in the background.  And it’s awesome.

Anyways, for today’s dairy delectables, I procured a Kerrygold Aged Cheddar, Ginger Affiné, and Jalapeño Havarti.

The Wyngaard Ginger Affiné is the only one that I’ve brought in before.  It is a slightly aged gouda with a crust of shredded ginger on top.  The ginger flavor is surprisingly mild, but an excellent pairing with the cheese.  Some of the folks here at work have been too lily-livered to try it, but everyone that has had it vouches for its character.

The Kerrygold Aged Cheddar is one of the best cheddars that I’ve ever had.  Nothing over the top, not even very sharp, but just an almost quintessential cheddar.  An archetypal cheddar.  When you think the words “cheddar cheese” in your mind, this is the flavor that is produced.  A damn fine cheese.

Lastly, we have the Dofino Jalapeño Havarti.  This one has a very uneven distribution of jalapeño bits in it which leads to some chunks being a fairly mild warmth while others are close to the three alarm fire side.  This is a beautiful thing for Stinky Cheese Tuesday since some of my coworkers are more resilient than others, but if you are getting this for yourself it may be a bit jarring.  Of course, you could always melt it into an awesome queso and just not worry about it, too!

A good week, all in all and I’m looking forward to finding new and interesting things for next week!

Stinky Cheese Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

This last Sunday I had some side work that paid out pretty well, so today I brought in a veritable cornucopia of cheese.  Starting at 12 o’clock and working clockwise, there is a black pepper affiné, gorgonzola, extra aged asiago, and Grand Cru.

The Wyngaard Black Pepper Affiné is a gouda with a cracked peppercorn crust.  The cheese itself, without the crust, just has a hint of pepper flavor to it but that crust is just amazing.  If you have any problems with spicy foods or just don’t like pepper then this is one to avoid.  Otherwise, it is a favorite here in the IT department.

Roth’s Grand Cru is an excellent hard cheese with a nutty flavor like a mild gruyere.  This one got a lot of compliments today as well.

The Extra-Aged Asiago from Sartori is quite simply, amazing.  If you’ve not tried any of Sartori’s offerings then I would highly recommend giving them a shot.  Their BellaVitano cheeses are all splendid, as are their more traditional hard cheeses.  How can you go wrong with an asiago on steroids?

Lastly, the Amablu Gorgonzola is without a doubt, the finest gorgonzola that I’ve ever had.  Strong, pungent, very blue but with a soft, butter creaminess to it that just makes it melt in your mouth.  Outstanding flavor, texture and aroma.

Stinky Cheese Tuesday, March 18th, 2014


For today’s Stinky Cheese Tuesday, from left to right, we have Blarney Castle, Tomato Basil Cheddar, and Caraway Havarti.

Since yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day I figured that a nice Irish cheese was in order.   Kerrygold’s Blarney Castle fits the bill quite well.  A smooth textured cheese with a rich creamy flavor, it comes across as something like a cross between gouda and provolone.


Cabot’s Tomato Basil Cheddar is today’s winner, in my humble opinion. The acid from the tomatoes meshes with the sharpness of the cheddar to create sheer joy. The basil smooths everything out and provides an herbaceous undercurrent. It is like eating a grilled cheese with tomato soup without the bread!

Last, but certainly not least, we have Dofino’s Caraway Havarti. This stuff is like eating a grilled cheese on rye with the caraway flavor being quite pronounced but not overpowering. It is a solid addition to the Stinky Cheese Tuesday lineup.

Cheese of Doom

I started a tradition at work about two years ago called Stinky Cheese Tuesday. Every Tuesday I bring in between two and four odd, but not necessarily stinky cheeses for faculty, staff and student employees to try. Over time, we’ve tried a ton of different stuff, some of it universally loved, some of it liked by only a few, but all of it interesting and horizon expanding.

Yesterday, for Fat Tuesday, I brought in a Porter Cheddar where they take the curds and soak them in beer before placing them in the mold. On any other day this would have been the fan favorite. Yesterday was not a normal day.

I had run into the International Cheese Monger by a stroke of luck when I went to procure delectables. He suggested that I try out No Woman. I was a bit skeptical seeing as the label does not give much context at first glance. It is a smooth, mild cheddar chock full of Jamaican Jerk seasoning hence the name, No Woman – No Cry. I figured that I’d take the chance.

I got to work, settled in, and began the chopping of the cheese. Upon cutting the plastic, the aroma was gorgeous. I had thought that it was going to be a spicy-hot cheese, not a spicy-flavorful experience. I popped the first little chunk in my mouth and swooned! I swear to all that is good that I almost teared up with joy! This cheese is one of the best things in the universe, and I can state this with no reservations.

The first thing that hits is the quality of the cheddar. It doesn’t have hardly any of the sharpness that typically characterizes the species, but it is creamy, smooth, has just the right amount of softness, and a delightfully subtle flavor. Then the allspice kicks in and your taste buds start vibrating. I couldn’t even begin to identify all of the flavors that start skipping through your mouth at that point, but they include some smokiness and a slightly sweet back end that just rounds out the experience perfectly. It is one of the most amazing foods I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth.

Most folks will stop by my desk and politely take just one cube of each cheese that I have to offer. There was not a single person that didn’t come back for seconds or thirds of No Woman. It is a beautiful thing.

Beecher – No Woman Cheese

Sharing Space With The Tacos