Mozzarella Heaven – Photo by Allison Profeta
Do you know what that is in the image above? It is marinated balls of FRESH MOZZARELLA. Where was I when I ate it? Right here in Staunton, Virginia!
By now, if you’ve read anything of my blog, you know of my obsession with cheese, and my difficulty locating good, fresh, melt-in-your-mouth cheese here in Virginia. Well, I am happy to report that I finally, FINALLY found a cheese shop. And it’s to die for.
My mom visited from Florida and wanted a tour of downtown Staunton. We set out, just the two of us, and had just begun discussing where to eat when we found ourselves standing in front of Barking Dog Wine.
Barking Dog Wine – Photo by Allison Profeta
The two of us decided we would quickly check it out, but we intended to get pizza for lunch. Then we walked in . . .
We were greeted by a lovely woman who came out from behind the bar to assist us. The lighting was dim, but not unpleasantly so. An entire wall was lined with wines, many of them local. There was a case of local craft beers. And there, along the back wall, was the cheese.
The Angels Are Singing – Photo by Allison Profeta
The case of cheese was pleasantly lit from within. It was warm and inviting. It had lots of cheese.
I realized I was out of my house, there was not a single small person tugging on any of my appendages, and I was surrounded by wine and cheese. Good cheese. Foreign cheese. Cheese that had been crafted, and molded, and loved. My eyes swept the room, my mouth hung open, and I whispered to my mother, “Let’s eat here.”
We ordered an Italian cheese plate.
Italian Cheese Plate – Photo by Allison Profeta
The Italian Cheese plate comes with Taleggio (the smaller wedge pictured above), Reggianito (the larger, more yellow triangle pictured above), marinated balls of fresh mozzarella, olives, crackers, and slices of bread.
Where do I begin?
The mozzarella. Let’s start with the fresh mozzarella. It’s the first fresh mozzarella I’ve had since our arrival in Virginia. And it was fresh. You see, I’ve anticipated having fresh mozzarella since being here, because I’ve been told I’m about to have fresh mozzarella, but then I’m served Polly-O. And in all fairness, I believe the word “fresh” is written on their packaging. But it’s a lie. And thinking I’m going to have fresh mozzarella only to be presented with Polly-O is sort of like being told I’m going to receive a hug and instead get gut-punched. The marinade was perfect. Dare I say, it was better than some marinated mozzarella that I’ve had back in New York. The oil wasn’t too heavy and the seasoning wasn’t too hot. It clung to the balls, but didn’t overpower them. It let the balls sing, and every time balls sing an Italian cheesecake gets its wings.
The Taleggio cheese was soft and mild. When I put it in my mouth, my eyes rolled back in my head because it was like hot sexy time cheese was happening all over my tongue.
“Gross, Allison. What the hell does that even mean?!”
It means it was goooooood. Moan-out-loud good. I’m not a food critic. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say it felt all kinds of good in my mouth. It belonged there. I ate the rind. I ATE THE RIND. I never eat cheese rind. I ate the rind. It just didn’t deserve to be left on that plate like it didn’t matter.
The Reggianito was firm. It had sort of a peppery undertone, but not spicy pepper. It was just a light hint of “I’m a dirty girl” pepper. The cheese was on the plate next to a marinated tomato and it was sitting in the oil from the tomato and it didn’t care. When this cheese gets oil on it, it rubs it in and says “Lick me. I dare you. You have no idea where I’ve been.” And you do it. Because you need it.
The plate was $9. My mom and I both felt the size was perfect – we walked away feeling satisfied but not so stuffed we couldn’t finish our walk – and the price could NOT be beat. We each had a glass of wine. They serve wine by the glass or bottle and the staff was incredibly informative about the selections of the day. Do I know what I drank? No, I simply can’t remember. Because that day, my friends, I was drunk on cheese.
Wine Selection – Photo by Allison Profeta