Alice in Texas

Not writing here anymore- see top post for details of my new blogs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

in search of halloumi cheese


I like nearly all cheese, and grilled halloumi is one of my favourites. Berlin has a large Turkish community, and when we were staying in the middle of it in Kreutzberg the other month, we bought three packs of halloumi for five euros from one of the local Turkish food shops. It's a little more expensive in Texas.

This place could not be more different than the little Turkish shop in Kreutzberg. It is so vast it even has its own classroom. The website explains their ethos thus:

Remember what it was like to visit Grandma's and walk into her kitchen?

Um, yes, but to be honest, my grandma's kitchen was more of a tiny overflowing place than an aircraft-hangar-sized showroom for All The Poshest Food In The World. While in search of halloumi, possibly for making this Nigella Lawson recipe, we helped ourselves to of the free cheese sample of the day. I only had a tiny crumb because it was solid old cheese that looked like dark Parmesan, so I thought it would be very strong.

Ten minutes later, I couldn't stop thinking about the cheese. It was five-year-old aged Gouda, which doesn't sound very impressive, but it was so deep and mysterious I think it was made in the Brothers' Grimm fairytale woods, around the time of Cinderella. Bought some of that, and some other exotic foreign fare as well: a baguette, some Italian cheese, an empty cigar box for putting things in, and a curly-wurly. Which is a bit like an American going to Fortnum and Mason and buying a Twinkie bar. Although I bet you can actually do that, at least in Selfridges or Harvey Nicks.

Some time ago, an American beer company decided to call itself by the same name as a Czeck beer company which had the name first. When the Czeck company tried to reclaim their name, they failed. Ever since then they have been called Budvar- the original Budweiser in Europe. But in America, as I know since seeing it yesterday in the fancy shop, they go by the dreadful name Czeckvar. Bought some of that too.

Which concludes my shopping journal. There is no food better than absolutely brilliant bread with absolutely brilliant cheese and maybe an apple. I can't believe how easy it is in life these days to eat like a king. Best supper I've had since the last one. Amazing.


At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Tatyana said...

Hello, Alice,
I'm so glad you're back - here and in Texas!

Cheese is a strangely insistent topic for me for the last few days.
Can I recommend, from personal experience, a small (really more like a grandma's kitchen; fits 3 customer's max) shop for your exotic shopping?
As to "cooking local", it's fine and proper, of course, but sorta contradict your own discovery of "being yourself is being truly American".
Who's to say I'm not autenthic if I love fusion? Enjoy the Gouda with your baguette!

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Kim du Toit said...

Old Amsterdam 5-yr old.

The Mrs. used to wake up in the middle of the night, craving it, when we were traveling around Europe. So we always had a half-pound next to the bed.

'Nuff said.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Sigivald said...

Really-aged Gouda really is more impressive than you'd think, huh?

Though some of it is pretty strong, flavourwise.

I got a hunk at the local premium grocer, and I could only eat it in small bits. Delicious.

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Patrick Crozier said...

I am not sure you're right about Budweiser. I looked this up a couple of years ago and rapidly came to the conclusion that the Americans had the better claim. They used the word first. They brewed the beer (the actual beer as opposed to beer in general) first.

At 7:39 AM, Blogger Alice said...

That's interesting if you're right about Budweiser. I should research it further. But Budweiser and Budvar are totally different beers- I mean, Budweiser did brew *their* beer first, but did the Czeck company have the name first?


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