Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Caseus is Coming!!

I’ve only heard about Caseus. It’s the stuff of cheese lore. Granted, the first competition was only held last year and the Americans weren’t even invited. But everyone else was.

The competition (we liken it to the Cheese Olympics) is overseen by cheese guru Herve Mons. His summary of last year? “Majestic performance, emotions, suspense…”

I’m not sure about that, but here’s what goes down. Teams of two from France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the UK, Sweden and Switzerland convene in Lyons for a full day of cheese competition.

Blind tasting and identification. Cutting an 80 pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano into perfect 1-ounce portions. Creating a cheese display. Defining your identity and representing your country in the greatest cheese glory ever. Are you going to be super-organized, precise, nay, even militaristic like the Swiss? Are you friendly, boozy and free-form like the Irish? How well have you mastered the cheese?

In this 2nd Caseus Murray’s is representing the entire United States with its dynamic duo: Frank Meilak and Cielo Peralta. Frank has been at Murray’s forever and practically runs the place. He started as a delivery boy and 21 years later he’s the Retail Master. We’ve got Frank on blind IDs and merchandising. Then there’s Cielo. He’s our Counter Maven. We guess he’s single-handedly sold more cheese than any one Murray’s employee in his 11 years of cutting and serving cheese to our customers. Cielo’s the lucky guy who gets one knife set and the pressure of a stopwatch to cut up the enormous wheel of Parm.

The two have been tasting, prepping and training straight through our crazy holiday season, in hopes of taking the gold, or in this case the weirdly bulbous trophy that demarcates the Caseus champion.

Of course, Murray’s proprietor Rob Kaufelt is one of an elite team of judges. We don’t expect to be lucky enough to have him judge Frankie and Cielo.

Competition wraps up on the 20th of January, and we’ll get an up-to-the-minute report from France. Stay tuned for all the gory details…

--Liz Thorpe, Director of Wholesale