Yes, yes, you have every right to wonder what I've been up to -- I have been silent. Not just on this blog, but in America. Last week, I went on a wee adventure with the Jesuits to live in an abbey for five nights and spend the days close-lipped. Oh, I loved it! I think every New Year, I will make a silent retreat -- if only to remind myself that I love to read, write, walk, sleep, and eat monastic cooking.
Did we have cheese? Bless Father Dan Joyce. On the last night of our stay, this crafty Jesuit disappeared, but he left a fridge full of cheese for us to eat, and the students and I had a feast. Maybe it was divine intervention: Fr. Joyce found a cheesemonger who was going out of business, and she sold him half her stock. We ate blues, we ate Parms, we ate the mystery cheese at the top of this post. It had a very Jesuitical pallor, I thought -- are those blots of port wine or blood?
Hmmm. Father Joyce never let on.
The Jesuit Spiritual Center in Wernersvill, PA is a must on any cheese-loving retreatant's to-do list. First, there are secret passages to explore. Secondly, the library and the grounds are totally BBC Special. Finally, the smorgasbord of desserts during the evening meal (prepared by the mysterious "Anita") is a vision of...I won't say it. I tried not to view the cheese blintzes on the very first night as a personal homage, but then I did.
Perhaps the greatest revelation was a wedge of Saga Blue, which I sampled during our little cheese fete. I've always seen Saga at the grocery and turned up my nose. Silly grrrl, it tastes like a brie -- grassy, creamy -- with a blue-cheese chaser. I wouldn't choose it over an Irish Cashel, but in the summer, amid the blue-curious, I would serve this Danish wedge on a picnic blanket without any regret at all.
In fact, next time I visit the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Wernersville, I may just pack it in my luggage. It would be perfect for eating, undetected, in the library at one of the wooden desks or for nibbling in one's room. It's a very covert cheese, not strong-smelling, and yet -- like all things of spirit -- powerfully subtle.