When I think of warm nights back in Madison, the place that often comes to mind is the roof of my former apartment. My roommate and I would often crawl through the front window after a long day of classes and peace out together on the sunny perch one story up. Sometimes the afternoon turned into evening, and the homework we brought with us was forgotten as conversation ensued. We’d talk about everything, or nothing–it didn’t really matter because just being in such a peaceful spot both physically and mentally was already perfect (except the nights we brought our beloved Spotted Cow into the scene–those were extra perfect).
Warm summer nights in New York–well, I’ve had a few perfect nights here, too. But perfect in their own ways; very different ways. Watching a movie at sunset on a pier overlooking the Hudson River was perfect. Running through my neighborhood before the arrival of a monstrous thunderstorm was perfect (in a skewed, “I’m running for my life” kind of way). But in New York I don’t have a rooftop, there’s no Spotted Cow, and my roommate and everyone and everything else I love in Madison is exactly 945 miles away.
Sometimes, a girl gets a little nostalgic for these simple, perfect moments. This week a symphony of nostalgia has been playing in my head nonstop. I’ve learned to accept missing things as part of the decision to move somewhere or try something new, but I’ve also learned that filling those gaps in any way possible is the best remedy. And so, the one thing ‘Wisconsin’ I knew I could find here in New York was cheese. And this week, I decided to go with one of Madison’s (and Wisconsin’s) most prized cheese (and the only cheese to ever win the American Cheese Society’s Best in Show title three times). This, as it happened, was my first time buying–and tasting–Pleasant Ridge Reserve except for a few leftover scraps l snatched at my former restaurant of employment. When I showed the fella at cheese counter just how thin a slice off the wheel I wanted, he replied coyly, “You’re not sharing, are you?” “No,” I replied, “not cheese.” And especially not my little wedge of Wisconsin.
Week 3: Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville, WI
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Cost per pound: $24.99
Aging time: 2-6 months
Milk type: Raw cow
Rating (of 10): 9
I found the cheese to have a tangy bite to it, and a complex overall flavor (I need a cheese taster’s dictionary, help!). I loved the firm, aged texture and the small crystals of flavor within the cheese added another desirable level. I cut my wedge into triangles and enjoyed them just they way they were. No need for a cheese as perfect as this to be accompanied.