People often ask why we left the sunny shores of South Florida for Columbus. The short answer is that my wife grew up here and was becoming homesick. The long answer is more complicated.
We have friends who own a gourmet carryout and catering business in the mountains of Western Carolina. They call it Good Food Incorporated, and specialize in Chef-prepared meals that can easily be finished at home. They’ve done a tremendous business for themselves; back in the Spring of 2005 they decided to open a second shop focusing on artisanal cheese, charcuterie, caviar, and other delights. One weekend they flew us up to Asheville, then drove us another 90 minutes west for a visit in order to enlist our help. Lured by the beautiful scenery, and the potential to make enough money during the nine-month season to take the rest of the year off, we agreed to run the new store, and work the catering jobs.
The centerpiece of the new store was a shiny display case artistically arranged with our wares. The header photo captures a corner of the case featuring various blue cheeses. Two fantastic selections share the stage. On the left is a Valdeon DOP. Wrapped in Chestnut leaves, these crumbly wheels are made in Leon, Spain from a mixture of cow’s and goat’s milk. Valdeon is fantastic when slathered on a slice of Spanish fig bread.
Its partner to the right is New Zealand’s most celebrated cheese, Windsor Blue, made lovingly from cow’s milk by Whitestone Cheese in Oamaru. Dense and creamy, Windsor can develop a rich ivory-colored pate like Stilton as it ages. Try this with toasted walnuts and a glass of 20-year tawny port.
Although I’d worked for years in the restaurant biz, before we took the job, I new little about traditional cheeses or artisanal cheese-making. As time wore on, I learned alot. And ate a ton of fantastic cheese. You can look forward to many future posts related to cheese. Anyway, back to the the answer for the original question.
At the end of the first season we had done pretty well, but not well enough to skip working for three months. We needed other jobs to get us through the winter. Trouble is, Jackson County in Western Carolina may be a winter wonderland, but there ain’t no stinking jobs available that time of year. The nearest real town to us was 40 minutes away, and the main attraction was a trip to Walmart. We had to punt.
After bowing out gracefully from another season working with our friends, we had a decision to make. Back to Florida or perhaps somewhere else. Mrs. Wineward was homesick for Ohio, and my research indicated that Columbus had a strong job market. So for the second time in a year we loaded up the U-Haul with all our worldly possessions and hit the road. After 16 years of South Florida weather (with a short layover in Carolina), I arrived in central Ohio on December sixth in the midst of a snow storm.
I do miss the ocean and the palms. Sometimes I even miss the mountains. But it’s been fun exploring my new hometown the past year. I look forward to a fantastic 2007, and hope I don’t find myself behind the wheel of a U-Haul any time soon.