Thursday, January 8, 2009

Inspiration, Inception, and The Iceman

If I'm truly honest, I'd have to say my love affair with cheese started about 6 years ago in a poorly stocked bodega on the corner of N. 7th St. and Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn, NY. Although the deli boasted old signage of Boar's Head meat and cheese products, I had never in my two years of frequenting them for beer and cigarettes, ever seen anyone actually purchase anything from the long-abandoned perishables counter in the back.

Myself and the rest of the L train popped in after work for beer and smokes, and while I waited in a line easily a dozen people long, a very tall, stricking young man meandered aimlessly around the back of the store looking slightly lost. He sort of looked like The Iceman, but minus the scary tan. Moments later the usual din of the deli was cut sharply by this man's incredibly thick, unmistakably German accent imploring of the entire shop, "Excuse me, but eez zere zumone to cut zee cheeze?" Nobody said much of anything, and he flapped his arms, frustrated and alarmed at the lack of customer service. "PLEEZE! Ken zumone help me to cut zee cheeze?!?" A few of us smiled quietly to ourselves, and by the time he started in on round three of his cheese-slicing plea I was taking my change and heading out the door, giggling uncontrollably to myself. Naturally this incident made for a rousing story told many a time over drinks with friends, and over time I grew to name this innocently misdirected man Hans. Hans, who was simply looking for some cheese so Hans can has cheeseburger.

A year or so later, my neighborhood was graced by the birth of The Bedford Cheese Shop, and my life was changed forever. I still remember clearly the first time I entered the store; they had a small but not insignificant sign on the door that said "Warning: it smells like France in here". I wondered how much rent they would charge to let me start sleeping there. Then I walked in, was offered a taste of something gooey and delectable, and the rest, as they say, is history. Hans, wherever he may have been at the time, finally had someone to cut the cheese for him, and alas, so did I.

I spent the better part of my last two years in Brooklyn with my drooling face pressed against the shiny glass cases of cheese at the Bedford Cheese Shop, or as I would later name it, Heaven. It wasn't long before the employees knew Mr. M and I by face and love of cheese every time we raced in for a splurge de fromage. I'd love to say that they knew us by name, but then again I didn't know them by name either. In fact, the only things I knew by name other than the sacred 25 yr. aged Montgomery Cheddar, were their goats Mary Kate and Ashley, whom they had several photos of behind the counter. So in a nutshell: cheese + me + awesome Brooklynites = happiness that carries far, far, far beyond our little neighborhood off the East River.

Flash forward several years. We've relocated to the Pacific Northwest, and we love love love it. Food in general is astounding, amazing, and yet somehow lacking that, oh I dunno, je n'est sais quoi? Oh yes, a CHEESE SHOP! So into this soggy town I shall march, french loaves swinging like a modern-day Yojimbo, and I will bring this land of Seattle the experience that only a proper fromagarie can provide, and I shall dedicate it all to Hans. Well, maybe.


  1. Finally, a fromagerie! Thank you. Loved the Hans story too.

  2. are there any photos of the shop? I would love to see some pics (love the "cheese story"). Regards from Croatia!