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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cheese--A new trend in food? Sort of

Food magazines, which I devour, are always predicting coming trends, like a couple of years ago they started talking about kale and all its various uses. Gourmets and gourmands have long talked about artisan cheeses, but these days the talk seems to be filtering down to the rest of us. I have a friend who is promoting cheese from Texas creameries (Facebook fans check out the Texas Cheese Tour page) and also researching the health benefits of cheese.
Now a trendy cheese restaurant has opened on our avenue that has lots of trendy places--sorry to keep overusing the word, but it fits. I went to the Magnolia Cheese Company with my neighbors and good friends, Jay and Susan, a few nights ago. Here's what worked and what didn't"
Perfect ambience in an old building with windows all around, mismatched antique wooden chairs and tables, old-fashioned floor of tiny tiles--all contrast with walls painted bright turquoise. Display cases that look like they could have come from an old butcher shop hold all kinds of cheeses, and the menu is hand printed on a blackboard with what Susan, our resident artist, called great graphics.
Jay had the turkey and cheddar sandwich (I'd had it once before and liked it although a review said the grain bread overshadowed the contents. I didn't think so.) Jay liked the sandwich but said he didn't get much of the cranberry that was supposed to be in the cheese.
Bread really did overwhelm the sandwich in what Susan and I chose--the fraiche fish, with lox, avocado, cucumbers, and house-made creme fraiche on a baguette. For the cost, it was way too much bread and way too little filling. Next time--because I will go back--I want to try the serrano ham and brie sandwich. Sandwiches come with salty, crip kale chips that are wonderful.
We remembered the soup and decided to split one serving after our sandwiches. That's when the fun began. Mushroom soup with brie was rich, creamy and delicious--served in small mason jars no more than three inches tall on a plate that looked like Depression glassware. Jay got to chatting with one of the cheesemongers, said he was from Vermont and shared his theories about it taking good forage for cows and goats to make good cheese--i.e. Texas won't produce great cheese. The cheesemonger and then the owner trotted out small bites for us--a mild, mild blue (like Gorgonzola) which Jay, who hates blue cheese, liked; a manchego with no flavor (she told us she was bringing negative examples), a cheddar that she warned wasn't very good, and a much better cheddar with jerk seasonng. Finally the owner brought some fromage fort, and was delighted that we knew what it was. The evening became an education in cheese tasting, and we had a lot of fun.
One nit to pick: the wine selection by the glass is limited, and that's putting it mildly. They had a cabernet and a prosecco--I'm a white wine drinker but prefer chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. I would like to believe the excuse that they ran out is not a ploy to urge you to buy the bottled wine available.
The owner of this highly focused restaurant is personable and obviously enthusiastic about what she does. Talking with her was a delight. I want this place to succeed, and I hope some of the disappointments I found were just early days bugs that will get worked out.
For Fort Worthians: the Magnolia Cheese Company is at 1251 West Magnolia; phone 817.945.2221

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