Posts Tagged ‘Bedford Cheese Shop’

After our haunting Holland Happening experience (you saw how we turned out after exiting the Gravitron), it was time to get down to business…whiskey business.  I’m not much of a drinker – the occasional glass of wine, maybe a beer after working on the property in the heat of summer (that would be when the thermometer reaches the very rare (there are no fans left to be found at Home Depot) 80 degrees).  And here I was sitting at a table with bona fide sippers of the grain, expert in their assessments.  I, on the other hand, have never been a whiskey drinker; well, perhaps once in my youth, which is why I may be a bit put off by the spirit.  But that was a long time ago and I was willing to let bygones be bygones.

Whiskey-Before_edited-1The line up on the table in the photo to your left does not represent the order in which the whiskey was tasted, and some brands did not make the photo cut because I took the photos after the tasting when the bottles looked more like this (see below):


1)Jack Daniels Unaged Tennessee Rye, 2) Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Aged 12 Years; Bulleit 95 Rye American Whiskey, Makers Mark 46, McClelland’s Islay 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, and Laphroaig Islay 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.

The tasters included William Bell, Bev Heising of Whidbey Island Distillery, Whidbey Island authors Mike McNeff, Mare Chapman, and Rowena Williamson, Bedford Cheese Shop Cheesemonger extraordinaire Nate McElroy, and me.  Oh, did I mention that William hosted us down at Local Grown?  Now I know how he stays so very mellow while drinking so much coffee.  (Note: This was a private party. No rules were broken.  Let me add here that the rumor Local Grown is installing a whiskey machine, like the one shown below, is not true.)

whiskeyAlong with the whiskey there were cheeses to sample and pair with the spirits. The finest among the cheese was a wedge of Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Dairy in Dodgeville, Wisconsin that Nate brought all the way from NY. You’re beginning to understand why he’s my favorite, aren’t you.  p-best-in-classWe also enjoyed Britt’s pickles out of Seattle, Fermin Iberic Salchichon, and Screamin’ Banshee Bread from right here on the island.

Nate was in charge of the pour so you know every taster had an ample sample.  Experienced tasters saw the sample to your left:9143738-whiskey-in-a-crystal-shot-glass-isolated-on-white

This is what I saw:The_simpsons_flaming_moes_02

There was a “dump it” bucket for those who wanted to walk out of the coffee shop, but I seemed to be the only one using it.  I’d like to be able to break down the descriptors used by the participants for you in accord with each whiskey, but after the first sip, I knew I’d never be able to match one with the other.  Here are a few of the words I do remember: Refreshing, light, vanilla, apples, cherry, oak, smooth on the tongue, lingers at the back of the throat, moss, smoke, hints of orange blossom (I may be making that one up).

Here are my descriptors: FIRE IN MY MOUTH! BURNING!  MY TONGUE HAS GONE NUMB! GOOD GOD, ARE MY LIPS STILL ON MY FACE?  Tasting the Laphroaig and the McClelland’s Scotch reminded me of standing in the middle of a debris burn I did my first winter on the island that lasted for a week.  Back then, I was sure I must be smoldering days after the burn was over, that’s how strong the smell of SMOKE around me remained.  I tried to listen as Mare and Rowena (the Scotch experts) talked about the peat moss used, the fire, the barrels, etc., but I was having a hard time doing that while gobbling down bread to calm my taste buds.  Thinking back on this, I’m reminded of Tom Hanks in Big when he tastes caviar for the first time.

I’d like to say I have a sophisticated palate when it comes to sampling spirits in their purest form, but I don’t.  So, here I sit weeks later looking at these near-to-full bottles of Redbreast and Bulleit Rye and the thought comes to me: I would probably like them a great deal if I used them to accentuate my chocolate truffles.  Now we’re talkin’.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

whidbeyislandI’ll end with this note. Yesterday, May 17, marked my four year anniversary here on the island.  Thanks to all who have made my stay here some of the best years of my life.  To those who have followed my silly little blog during that time, hand-to-heart gratitude for riding along with me.


Thanks wipwapweb.com for the “whisky” machine.

Moe’s flaming drink from images4.wikia.nocookie.net


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So, I made my way to Brooklyn and back and I’m here to tell you.  No, that’s it – I’m here to tell you I made it back.  Let’s start with the going.  The week before I was to leave, the pilot on a Jet Blue flight from Las Vegas to New York had a bit of a meltdown.  You know, the kind where to the pilot runs through the plane screaming the thoughtful warning, “say your prayers!”  Oh, I see that I’ve yet to mention I was flying Jet Blue to New York.   What timing.  I haven’t flown to New York for 38 years and the week before I take off, all hell breaks loose at 25,000 feet.  Fortunately, I have years of experience in staying hyper vigilant when flying and, in my own mind, at least, would and could land one of those hurtling masses of steel if need be.  Of course, staying hyper vigilant on a red-eye flight left me feeling like a drowsy bee in a busy hive when I arrived in Brooklyn, but I’m convinced it’s that  hyper vigilance that kept everyone in check on Flight 82.  Such a small price to pay in the end, don’t you think?

If you’ve been following along, you know I live in the woods where the only sounds that come through the dark of night are those of nature – perhaps the Great Horned Owl calls to his mate under the light of a full moon, or an old toad, looking for a like-minded croaker with whom to pass the night, belts out a ribbet or two.   In between there is the silence.    But in Brooklyn, the BQE (Brooklyn/Queens Expressway) is just a stone’s throw (even if you throw like a girl) from the apartment of my favorite of all my children – Nate.  I’m pretty sure there’s a pot hole the size of Rhode Island in the closest lane that every semi hit headed down (or up – I have no sense of direction) between the hours of two and six a.m.  I tried to pretend the sound of traffic was a pounding surf; attempted, without success, to find the rhythm of the passing cars, looked under each sleepy eyelid for any solace to be found in the subtle earthquake-like vibration of the building.  Had I booked a lengthier stay, that pot hole would have been history, but, alas, my time visit came to an end all too quickly.

I was on my own the first two days and took to the subway to make my way to Manhattan.  I felt like it was my first day of school, Nate actually walking me down to the platform and showing me how to buy my Metro pass.  See why he’s my favorite?  Of course, like the first day of school when your mom or dad walks you into class and everyone sees it, you’re pretty much that day’s lunch-punch puppet.   Once he left me there and headed back up the stairs, my mantra was set in place – L Train to 8th Avenue, A Train to Columbus Circle.  Sounds easy enough, but then I had to find the A Train, and know what direction it was headed.  I have no sense of direction above ground (see above admission) let alone underground, so I depended on the kindness of strangers.  And every single stranger I asked for directions was kind.  Yes, kind.  You just have to know who to ask.  You don’t wake the guy sleeping on the bench with last night’s dinner in his hair, you ask the very nice middle-aged woman who will then sit with you and tell you her whole life story in just five stops.   Once in Manhattan I met up with good friend, David Hodo, to spend the afternoon window shopping, but we didn’t last for long because we’re older now and our backs and feet hurt.  Besides, I don’t buy high heels anymore, I buy power equipment.  We found a bench just waiting for us in Central Park and watched the Easter Sunday parade of cyclists, joggers and strolling families as they made their way through the park, which, by the way, was drop-dead gorgeous (and not drop-dead in the way I remembered the park from my youth).

The next two days were filled with “just a ten minute walk” whether that walk was to the corner or from the East Side of Manhattan down to the Bowery.  During my visit, I learned a “ten minute walk” in New York is a ruse much like LAs “just twenty minutes by freeway.”   We visited the Guggenheim for Kandinski, the MOMA for the Cindy Sherman exhibit, and then off to meet Nate’s friend and Eataly’s Cheese/Salumi Monger – Greg Blais.  As chaotic as Eataly was, Greg took the time to put together a stunning variety of cheeses for us to sample.  Add that special sparkle of Proseco and the glitzy Las Vegas feel of the place fell into the background.

On day two, I got a sneak peek of the up and coming Bedford Cheese Shop opening next month on Irving Place near Gramercy Park.   It’s going to be a beautiful shop.  After the tour, we walked and walked and walked, then ate Thai food, then walked and walked all the way to the Bowery for pickled herring and gelato (not in combination).  Nate, Chris and Charlotte ate their gelato, I poured mine into my shoes to cool my aching feet.   And to think I used to walk 50 and 60 blocks when I lived in New York, and I did it in five-inch platforms.  Where did that woman go?

My NBC Studio buddy, and long-time friend, George Mendez, came all the way from Mays Landing, NJ, to spend some time with me.  Three decades had come and gone since I last saw George, but, as cliché as it sounds, it felt as if no time had passed us by.  Since we no longer have three decades to squander, I’m hoping George will find his way to Whidbey Island for a visit sooner, rather than later.

Before I knew it, it was time to Jet Blue my way back to my island.  On the flight home, I had a chance to consider my visit and my favorite’s new life in Brooklyn.  Closing my eyes, I could hear the hum of the city, could feel the pulse of the around-the-clock heartbeat.  Somewhere over the Midwest, the fact that things  had reversed themselves came into view.  Three days prior, my grown son had led me down to the subway the way I led him to his kindergarten classroom his first day of school.  My visit gave me the opportunity to see that little boy, now a man, moving through his days and nights in Brooklyn with his new-found tribe of friends (all quite wonderful, I might add).  And I came home filled with happiness for him.  Besides, how can you not love someone who’s got the chutzpah to wear this hat in New York?  That’s my boy!

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