Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Very Happy Meal

The lovely Phoenix and I hit the road yesterday afternoon with our own personal mecca as the destination du jour: West Point Market.

If you love food as much as we do, how can you not love a large gourmet market that begins with a sizable wine room, followed directly by hundreds of fabulous cheeses, lots of gorgeous produce, a deli to die for, and rows and rows of wonderful groceries, including many difficult-to-find imports? And let's not forget the bakery, with several varieties of radiantly golden loaves of tender bread and more luscious desserts than you can dream up in one sitting, located oh so conveniently across the way from all the freshly roasted coffee beans.

It's heaven.

We had a long, leisurely browse through the aisles, selecting just a few choice morsels from this amazing cornucopia. My arms were eventually laden with a loaf of fragrant rosemary bread, two cheeses (more on those in a moment), a small brick of coffee, and two small Scharffen Berger chocolate bars (strictly to restock my emergency supplies, of course; if threatened by a terrorist attack, you'd better believe that my first step will be to reach for the chocolate, because if I'm going to die, I'm going to die happy).

After our other outings, we managed to get home in enough time to have dinner at a relaxed pace. I reheated some of the red lentil-carrot-coconut soup I'd made over the weekend, sliced the rosemary bread, and set out the cheeses. The first cheese, Red Dragon, was a white cheddar laced with ale and speckled with mustard seeds... sort of compact Welsh rarebit.

But the other cheese... oh! what bliss! Aptly named Prima Donna, this aged gouda was still "young" enough to have a mild, sweet, creamy flavor (as opposed to the three-year-old gouda that has become a cult classic in our little circle, thanks to its more intense flavor and crackly texture). But give the Prima Donna a moment to warm up, and you'll find yourself sinking deeply into the rich, velvety, creme caramel undertones that fill your mouth and leave you utterly speechless with rapture. Phoenix laughed at me when she watched my reaction to the first bite... I kid you not, I went weak in the knees... but I had the last laugh when she sampled it, and reacted with the same look of concentrated happiness.

No, we actually did NOT finish off the cheese. (And no, you can't have any.) We had just enough room left for a Georgian preserved walnut each, the perfect ending for a simple supper.

Phoenix says it best: "That was a very happy meal!"

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