I’ve been lucky to spend the majority of 2019 in Chicago, undisputedly one of this country’s finest food cities. By this point I know my way around and I’ve had the pleasure of eating at some of the city’s best restaurants. So one evening in early February – right after the worst of the horrible weather – I decided that I wanted to give back to Chiberia in some small way. As the Cheese Guy, I know the best way I can give back is through cheese.
I left my office in the Logan Square neighborhood after work and started to walk home. I was wandering down the street when I came upon a cozy tavern called The Double. The bartender was a super nice guy named Henry Sykes; it turns out he’s also one of the owners. We started chatting it up, and when I told him I was in the cheese business, he exclaimed, “I love cheese!”
Now earlier that day I’d been doing a bit of business at Eataly, where I picked up a few choice items to share with my fellow Chicagoans. One of the treats I’d grabbed was a small Italian cheese called La Tur, a dense, rich Robiola-style gem made from a mixture of cow, goat and sheep milk. I brought it out and spread a generous portion atop a wedge of Eataly’s crusty signature pane rustico loaf and gave Henry a taste. He loved it (of course); La Tur’s creamy, gooey texture makes it a perennial crowd favorite.
We started to share with a few nearby bar patrons, then Henry’s friend Jennifer came over to see what all the fuss was about. She’s a public school social worker and she enlightened me about the unusual challenges of her job as we finished off the cheese.
After a few more minutes of camaraderie, I started to pack up. Five nice folks from my new neighborhood bar came over to say goodbye and invite me back again; Jennifer even gave me a hug. If I hadn’t brought in that bit of great cheese, I would have just been a new guy in a bar; sharing the cheese opened everyone up to great conversation and I even made some new friends.
Cheese has been very, very good to me.