Every so often I get the chance to head over the Ben Franklin bridge and into New Jersey, where the gas is cheap and the stores are plenty. About 20 minutes from Philly, in Cherry Hill, resides Wegmans supermarket – a foodie’s bounty. Truly. If I ever abandon the urban life, I want to live near one of these. Mark my words.
Perimeter shoppers adore Wegmans for its variety of high quality foods. Walking through the fruits and vegetables inspires the urge to eat well. Mushroom risotto? or perhaps a tart with a lemon scented crust? Braised fennel for pasta, or shaved in a salad? How can I use that huge bunch of fresh mint?
For me, standing before the olive bar conjures visions of Mediterranean travels past – Ligurian hillsides and Andalusian highlands, Delphian valleys, stone-tiered terraces in Lebanon. In my twenties and early thirties, the men I loved were from families with olive groves. My lifelong friend Kim still jokes about that being the most frequent element of my dating “pattern”. Ha ha! One day I’d like to have an olive tree and a rosemary bush that don’t die in the winter … even if these exist in a greenhouse. 🙂
Of Wegmans’ many treasures, I discover the most intriguing at the cheese counters, mostly because I’ve eaten so few of the varieties they carry. On my last visit, I discovered quadrello di bufala, a soft cheese from Lombardia. I ate it at room temperature on rosemary bread. It was the perfect meal.
Quadrello di bufala is produced in the provincia di Bergamo (near Milano) at a family-owned dairy that has dedicated itself over the past 3 years to making cheese with milk from water buffalo. According to Janet Fletcher, they’ve now got 25 varieties. Very interesting, indeed. She describes the cheese so beautifully, I hardly want to take a stab at it myself:
Take a moment to appreciate this cheese’s seductive aroma, a merging of cave and mushroom scents with the frank fermentation smell of cultured milk. On the tongue, it is supple, creamy and coating, with plentiful salt and a vigorous tang. In Quadrello I find everything I am looking for in cheese: a compelling fragrance, a pleasing texture, flavor balance and a long finish.
(Read more here.)
Each time I make the trip to Wegmans, I tell myself I can always go again in another few weeks. So far, I’ve made it there no more than 2-3 times per year. LOL. Last year at the Appetite for Awareness event, I begged the guys at the Wegmans table to consider opening up an outpost in the city. All I need is the perimeter, I said. They just laughed. The drive over the bridge is no big deal; it’s just conceptually far far away.