Sunday, April 18, 2010

Six stinkers of the Year: A Retrospective

Friends, one year ago today I wrote my first Madame Fromage post. I was a dubious blogger, a print-world snob, and I was pretty sure this online venture would fizzle out. I only launched it to see if Frank Wilson, the Philadelphia Inquirer Books-Editor-turned-blogger, was right: he told a group of students that blogging was essential for any journalist-to-be, that blogging was important. Oh pooh, I thought.

A year later, I’m writing about cheese twice a week and loving it. I spent eight years as a newspaper columnist – a job I adored but burned out on – and I never thought I’d trade in my press pass to write an online column from my kitchen table. Alas, I was wrong.

Writing this blog has been a revelation. It’s become my cutting-board confessional, a place where public and private meet. I’ve been amazed to discover how many people like to read, comment, twitter, and email about cheese. There are a lot of dairy-curious folk out there who have asked great questions, and a lot of really well-informed cheese pros who have reached out, sharing knowledge and suggestions.

In the last year, I’ve eaten at least 100 different kinds of cheeses, most of them artisanal, many of them made from raw milk. I’ve enjoyed great conversations with goat farmers and spent many nights awake in bed, reading books by Laura Werlin and Max McCalman. So, what’s next?

Well, it’s time to blow some kisses. First smooch goes out to Marisa of Food in Jars, my hero, my mentor. Second smooch goes out to Nicole and Joan of Quince, who invited me to host monthly tastings at their store on Girard Avenue; these have been such a great way to bring people together around cheese. A spray of smooches goes out to the many fabulous cheese mongers in this city – thanks for the suggestions, the samples, the nudges, the notes. Albert Yee of Fair Food Farm Stand and Ezekial Ferguson of DiBruno Bros. have been especially kind.

As long as I’m waxing nostalgic, I’ve got a smooch for Chef Coleman of WHYY’s “A Chef’s Table” – it was a pleasure to nibble PA Noble together – being on yesterday’s show was a highlight. Special props to my colleague, Aimee Knight, who brought Madame Fromage to the silver screen with the tiny cheese flick, "Balsamic Boudoir."

Finally – I hear the Oscar music twanging in the background – a spray of smooches to all of you. Thanks a thousand pixels. Below, I offer my favorite cheeses of the year -- in no particular order.

Fave cheeses of the year: 1. Gorgonzola Cremificato (an etherial blue that is good enough to eat in slabs), 2. Hudson Valley Camembert (a mushroomy surprise from New York State), 3. Montenebro (a gorgeous goat cheese from Spain with a hint of roqueforti), 4. Hooligan (a loud-mouth stinker from Connecticut's Cato Corner Farm), 5. PA Noble (a local cheddar with gutsy rind), 6. Maidenhead (a curiously strong cheese from New Jersey that's washed in Flying Fish beer)

Don't forget, there's still time to leave a comment on my Stink-a-versary post and win a free wedge. Winner announced tomorrow. Cheers!


  1. Conratualtions on your 1 year anniversary - fabulous! I really enjoy your blog and can't wait to try the cheeses on your Favorites list. Cheers to many years of blogging ahead:)

  2. Yay Tenaya! It was so much fun meeting you yesterday. I look forward to another cheese adventure with you. I'm considering starting a blog about my eats in life. A camera would be helpful though. I didn't stop in DiBruno's but I'm gunning for the Red Hawk cheese my next trip for sure. Cheers!

  3. Congrats Tenaya! You are soooo creative. I look forward to visiting Philly and going to one of your tastings. Reading your blog is a highlight of my week.

  4. Oh Tenaya, smooches right back atcha! I am so delighted by all the good things your blog have brought to your doorstep and I'm happy to have played a small role in that. Here's to many more years of fulfilling and fun blogging!

  5. You have a lot to be proud of-- your blog is top rate! You definitely bring out the beauty in cheese-- yes, cheese is beautiful!