Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cheesophile in the City of Orange

Maybe I’m the only one, but I didn’t know that downtown Orange has much the same feel and look of Main Street DisneyLand mixed with Andy Griffith’s Mayberry. Its old town American charm is increased by the profusion of antique stores, at least two tea shops and cozy restaurants hiding in the depths of brick buildings. I’m looking forward to spending a few more weekends exploring Orange, as well as revisiting my new favorite place in Orange County: Frog’s Breath Cheese Store.

Frog’s Breath is divided into a large boutique wine section, offering a wide selection for decent prices, and an excellent assortment of cheeses. I found almost all of my favorites: English Cotswald, Old Amsterdam, Leyden, and Red Dragon, but unfortunately, they didn’t have Pittig Gouda, which I find to be richer and crunchier than Old Amsterdam. Even though they missed one cheese, they made up for it by introducing me to another: Speziato al Tartufo. Speziato al Tartufo is a hard Italian cow’s milk cheese with a rind dusted with black truffles and cinnamon. The cheese itself is very mild, and the sweet flavor of nutmeg-truffle (it tastes more like nutmeg than cinnamon to me) is the main attraction. Don’t bother me with crackers for this cheese; just take it as is--and enjoy.

The cheese-counter staff were very helpful to myself and my fellow wide-eyed drooling cheesophile placing her order next to me. A kindred spirit. I read an article somewhere that claimed cheese was addictive and had the same effect as morphine to those susceptible to it, and they could have used me as a case study. This is the place to get your fix in Orange County. And, like all great cheese stores, they are happy to tempt you with free samples of anything in their well-stocked case. A feature that sets this store apart from others is that they pre-order fresh Italian cheeses for in store pickup—as in, you can order the freshest cheese straight from Italy.

Wine and cheese go together like a wink and a smile, or like tea and crumpets, but don’t overlook their specialty sauces, dips, and other gourmet goodies. Upon entry I was greeted with free samples of creamy wine-filled chocolate truffles, some filled with Port, Cabernets or other reds. These chocolates make Frog’s breath a one-stop shop for Valentine’s Day--Wine, cheese and chocolates are all I require for absolute epicurean bliss.

Frog’s Breath offers wine tastings Thursday through Saturday, with individual cheese trays crafted to complement the wines. They also have wine and cheese pairing classes once a month. For example, in their Pairing Cheeses with Pinot class, you can learn which cheeses can stand up to the acidity and alcohol content of a Pinot, as well as which cheeses to stay away from. And, even though my method of putting together a cheese party platter is to pick out *MY* favorites and eat it all before the guests have a chance—their “How to put together a Christmas Party Cheese Tray with Paired Wine” class, looks very fun.

Store hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Thursday - Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Visit their website for more details: Frog's Breath Cheese Store.
And here is the slightly ridiculous and very alarmist rendition of how
Cheese is a Highly Addictive Drug.
Also, check out MY article for Peter Greenberg on
Destinations for Cheese Lovers.

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