Trust Your Taste 006

Brillat Savarin and CCP Celebrations

Cheese ~ Storytelling ~ Authenticity ~ Creativity

This is a special celebration letter because I FOUND OUT I PASSED THE CCP EXAM! CCP stands for Certified Cheese Professional. It’s a really intense exam that I studied very hard for and I am very proud of myself. Anyway, happy Sunday, let’s get into it.

Something Tasty: A cheese pairing to try

Brillat Savarin

This was my celebration cheese: Brillat Savarin.

The stats: Cows milk ~ French ~ Aged 2ish months ~ Bloomy Rind ~ Pasteurized ~ Triple Crème ~ still not Brie

I’m in California visiting my family, so whenever I’m here I always go to my favorite local cheese shop The Cheese Cave for some goodies.

When I found out I passed the exam, my first impulse (after full-body sobbing and calling my parents and partner and roommates to tell them mid-sob) was to go to The Cheese Cave and immediately buy a bottle of Champagne and this cheese.

“Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are”- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

This is a tried and true pairing. Get a luscious, creamy cheese and pair it with some bubbly. It will always be good.

The layers of fat and protein coat your tongue, so that when you take a sip of the stars* it does a little scrubbing bubbles action in your mouth and completely uplifts the flavors, creating the ever-elusive and thrilling third taste.

However…the star pairing of the evening was UNEXPECTED.

My partner Adam rarely drinks, but when he does he enjoys a hard kombucha (which is not kombucha added to a spirit, you just continue the natural fermentation process of kombucha longer until the ABV is higher than 0.5%) and his favorite is the Grapefruit Hibiscus Hard Kombucha from Boochcraft.

Whenever you’re playing with grapefruit there is an element of bitterness, so before I tried it I knew there was a possibility of the cheese bringing out those bitter notes, but instead it highlighted the floral fruitiness of the hibiscus and it was DELIGHTFUL.

The champagne was great…and I liked how the kombucha paired with the cheese even more. I do wine, beer, and cider pairing classes all the time…maybe it’s time for a hard kombucha pairing class!

*You have probably heard the name Dom Pérignon. You may not know he was a Benedictine monk who lived in the Champagne region of France from 1638-1715. As the lore tells us, when our guy Dom created the “perfect” blend in the Abbey of Saint Pierre he called out to his fellow monks “Come quickly! I am tasting the stars!”

Something True: A truth about myself

Celebration and Doubt

It was very cloudy and cool out so we made it a cozy celebration

Here’s the truth:

I have never been great at celebrating myself.

Most times I’ve achieved or succeeded at something that took a lot of effort, time, or discipline- some part of me used to think that talking about it would make the accomplishment mean less.

In my mind, stopping to really feel good about myself was being selfish, and it was weak to show how happy I was. I thought it would make me look less professional if I didn’t act like I knew it was all easy and going well the whole time.

But I’m (mostly) over that now. I was proud of this victory, set aside time to celebrate with my family and Adam, and am almost incapable of acting as if it’s “no big deal”.

What is also true is I almost didn’t take the exam at all. I was supposed to take it in 2020, but postponed it because of covid. In 2019 when I applied, I felt confident in my knowledge and knew I could study hard on the areas I didn’t know, and everyone around me was telling me I’d easily pass!

And that’s when I started doubting myself— when everyone around me was “sure” I’d pass.

All of a sudden I became terrified of failing. When I was just doing it for me, I was excited to learn and have the experience of sitting for the exam, but once an expectation was set— I was not at all confident in my abilities.

Then I started questioning my motivation for even taking the exam. Because a lot of my life has been spent doing things for other people- to impress them, make them proud, make them like me, etc. So much so, that it became a little difficult to trust my own motivations for doing something like this.

Was it to PROVE I know what I’m talking about? I don’t need to prove myself!

And to who? The public? Most people don’t know what a CCP designation really means, so that doesn’t make sense.

To the cheese industry? To prove that I’m not just a theatre girl and cheese and food is a really important part of my life and career? Maybe.

To my family? To show that even though I’m not in California full time working on the dairy I DO care about agriculture and I AM in touch with whats going on in the world of dairy? Maybe.

To myself?…well…if I’m so confident in my knowledge, why am I fussy about not needing to prove anything to anyone? Maybe I did need to prove it to myself a little bit.

And eventually I finally got back to my original intention: to learn all I could.

There is no doubting the professional recognition and new opportunities getting certified opens up- that alone is worth trying. And even though I might’ve spiraled a bit, I do think it’s important to ask yourself some questions about motivation and intention before a huge undertaking like that.

And I think it’s equally important to celebrate yourself when you do something hard. Hard can look like studying for months and taking a three-hour exam—

But it can also look like having a difficult conversation, pushing yourself through a workout, stepping outside your comfort zone, surviving a family gathering without having a meltdown, setting a boundary, breaking a difficult habit, or honestly- sometimes- just getting through the day in one piece. They are all victories. All worthy of celebration. What are you celebrating today?

And speaking of taking the time to celebrate: Three people I love have birthdays hours apart from each other and they are all doing amazing things.

  • Check out the work of my brilliant friend and collaborator SMJ here

  • Subscribe to THE Michael Littig’s newsletter Welcome Home here

  • Follow Alyssa’s journey bringing her fitness, motivation, and community building expertise to the hospitality industry here

Farm to Fable: How food shows up in storytelling 

Pride and Prejudice and The Food of Love

Collage by Anne-Marie Pietersma

Once Adam and I discovered our favorite pairing of the night was the Brillat with the Grapefruit Hibiscus Kombucha, I looked at the scrolling Netflix home screen on the TV and immediately said:

“This pairing is like Pride and Prejudice.”

Specifically Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s relationship. In this case, Lizzy is the cheese and Darcy is the hard kombucha.

“I expected the cheese to bring out the bitterness in the drink, but it actually brings out it’s sweetness.”

If you know the story, hopefully this makes sense- if you don’t, Pod and Prejudice is a very fun podcast where two friends (one who intimately knows Jane Austen’s canon and one who knows none of it) dive in to Austen’s novels.

In a signature period of banter between the two characters, Darcy says":

"I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love"

This might sound like a poem you’ve heard before- the first line of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “If music be the food of love, play on”.

There are many interpretations of both of these quotes and of course the context (which we don’t have time for) is important for each, but one thing is for certain- there are countless examples in literature of relating food and love.

Describing food as a metaphor for love, giving food as a symbol of love, and food as a vehicle to celebrate love- like cheese and bubbles by the fire with the one who helped you study for six months.

Until next time,


P.S. - Sunday Scaries

A terrifying AI image to help us all rest knowing AI bots could never replace a real human artist:

This week the prompt was “Jane Austen and William Shakespeare having cheese and champagne in a hibiscus garden.”

Ok. So Shakespeare is a boxing bro now- and I think there’s a secret third person under the table trying to give Jane a glass of whatever that is?

And it seems that time/space/reality is melting?…ripping open?… in the middle of the garden? And I’d believe that umbrella in the top right might be a giant bat wing trying to escape this world. I am unsettled.