With all its multisensory capacities, it's no surprise that cheese can be deceptive. The smell, the appearance of the rind, even the name could trip you up and reveal itself to be something totally unexpected. We found one such specimen in the butchery of Parts and Labor in Remington, which hosts an unsurprisingly pricey but well-rounded cheese selection.
Grayson ($28 per pound—Parts and Labor sells it in modest quarter-pound wedges), a beefy cheese from Meadow Creek Dairy in southwest Virginia, has the orange-washed rind and arrestingly fecal odor of an Italian Taleggio. But the rind opens to a much milder, crowd-pleasing paste: not as creamy or funky as most Taleggios (which are usually made with pasteurized milk, not raw, like Grayson), but a supple pillow of buttery and faintly nutty fudge—a bit salty, a bit sugary. Think of a brawny, scuffed-up pit bull with loose, drooling gums, an "I've seen some shit" stare, and massive balls, coming at you with frightening speed, only to offer you his velveteen belly, wet kisses, and the little beady eyes of the only good thing in this world.
Rough around the edges but sweet at heart, this cheese is that dog, only more expensive and acceptable to bring to a friend of a friend's party. Enjoy Grayson (which, incidentally, sounds like the name given to a pit bull by a young, hip couple with socially progressive views and trust funds) on its own with a fork, of course, or melted over Italian bread.
The next time your hear from ECWAF, we'll be writing from France, the holy land of soft cheese. We expect to return a changed cheesemonger, and we apologize in advance if we get even snobbier about fromage. As always, we do it out of love; to encourage Baltimore's cheese market and local cheese-makers to grow and bring more to the table.