| cave-aged gruyere | lynne | 03.11.2003, 10:01 PM
this cheese is like that boy your mother wants you to marry---safe, reliable, a little bit predictable. you know it's always going to treat you right. you hold the idea of it in reserve like an extra ace tucked away. when you've been burned by flashier, sexier, more exciting cheeses---what a good idea brescianella seemed like at the time!---cave-aged gruyere is there to pick you up the morning after. it doesn't ask questions, doesn't press its agenda, it's just there, solid and dependable. it knows the tortoise always wins the race in the end.
another way to think about the cave-aged gruyere is that the swiss stash it in a cave (the cheese world equivalent of a numbered bank account?) and just keep it there until it's ready. cave-aged gruyere is secure; it's a cheese for the prudent and the secretive. it's also possible to eat it in a marvelously efficient manner. one, two, three, four bites and it's gone.
it's also really good on toasted walnut bread with some prosciutto. that's what i had for dinner last night and that's what i'm having again tonight.
I've had this cheese a couple of times, and both times I felt like it was the kind of the cheese that you just don't eat around other people. There's something very intense about it, something that demands your full attention. I contrast this with, say, Neal's Yard Cheddar, which is a very social cheese, a cheese that begs to be shared with others, to be talked about. Neal's Yard reminds me of a dog that wanders in between people having a conversation; talk about me! Say my name! Be affectionate! But cave-aged gruyere is like a mysterious, alluring stranger that you meet in a nightclub. And the stranger is shrouded, like Stevie Nicks in the 70s, and she is wearing a turtleneck, and you think to yourself: "Is she wearing a turtleneck to hide something. Does she have, say, a tattoo on her neck?" But you are curious, and you pursue it, but you never, never tell your friends. Never. Like when you eat cave-aged gruyere.