After a few upheavals, life has settled down again and I've snuggled happily back into my routine - which includes writing and, best of all, hitting the farmer's markets to discover new and exciting treasures. And oh - I found one.
Sunday I headed down the street to my local market to pick up some bison, eggs, rib-eyes and a cow heart for the cats. On the way out, I decided to pop by Monforte's table. They make gorgeous sheep's milk cheeses and yogurt that don't seem to bother my sensitive tum.
As I was fingering a silky block of garlic scape cheddar, a cute little wedge caught my eye. White, creamy but firm, lightly speckled with herbs.
"What's this one?" I asked.
"That's halloumi," said the Nice Cheese Lady.
"It's a Greek cheese," she replied. "You fry it."
You know in the movies, when the guy sees the girl for the first time, like when she's walking into the classroom or the bar or the office, and suddenly everything is in slow motion and she flips her hair and it's all shiny and gorgeous and "Dreamweaver" starts playing? Well that happened to me, but with cheese.
Nice Cheese Lady was waxing poetic about halloumi originating in Cyprus and how it doesn't melt with the heat because the curd is cooked in whey at high temperatures and the protein structures are altered, or something to that effect, but all I could hear (besides "Dreamweaver") was my belly crooning to me in a soothing, lovers whisper:
You fry it.
This is cheese you can fry.
Well 'fry' rhymes with 'buy', and I'm not one to ignore meaningful coincidences. I plunked down five bucks and floated home, smitten.
According to "The Rules", one should wait three days before calling one's crush so as not to appear desperate. I chose to use this tactic with my halloumi. If I took it home, ripped it open and fried it up right away, what would it think of me? Would it respect me? I doubted so. My halloumi sat and wrung its hands ("Will she cook me? She is gonna cook me, right?") until this evening.
I was going to fry my new love in olive oil to make it feel more comfortable, being Greek and all, but nary a drop in the house. So, I used a bit of lard. ("Ooooh, you're frying CHEESE in LARD!" squealed my belly, delighted by the rebellious decadence of it all). Three slices, a few minutes per side, then on to a plate and simply but smartly dressed with some dried mint leaves, sea salt and a doosh of lemon juice.
It was a dream date. My halloumi turned out to be just like the human love of my life: crispy on the outside, firm yet tender on the inside, and lets out a little squeak when bitten. (yes - my fella fits this description, but that's a whole other blog.)
Halloumi is nice on its own, simply dressed as I had it - it was almost like a dessert. But you can also grill it in a skewer, kabob-style, or cube it, fry it and serve it like a crouton in salads or soups. It has a neutral flavour, so I imagine it would take on other herbs and spices very well. You can also get it packaged in brine, which gives it a more salty flavour and I imagine helps it last longer in the fridge. Not that you'll keep it around long. It's far too delicious and versatile to just sit there. If my gut approves, I may start eating it, oh I don't know, like every day at every meal for the rest of my natural life. I know it's still early on in the relationship, but when I fall in love, I fall hard.
I'll be sure to post the wedding photos.