Friday, April 5, 2024

Snowdonia Cheese

Listen up, kiddies. There's a prize in this Cracker Jack box -- valuable information on living well.

Due to my upbringing (immigrant parents) it's not my nature to indulge myself. But I've learned that rewards, even small ones, can be powerful motivators. So I grant myself little pleasures when I do something hard, like a hot cup of strong coffee at the end of a long hike. The prospect of a reward helps you push through tough stuff.

I recently achieved a major financial goal that deserves celebrating so I'm pampering myself with some of the best cheese in the world.

Like everyone else I love cheese. For health reasons I've cut back on dairy and consume cheese only rarely now. So when I do have it I get high quality.

I once worked at a cheese shop in Boston which sold 365 varieties. The owner encouraged us to try them all so we could better guide customers. As a result I know cheese. During that employment I was a poor student so I'd arrive at work hungry and eat pounds of cheese. Literally pounds. That was my meal for the day. It's a wonder I'm still alive. 🙂

The best cheese in the world is not made in Wisconsin; it's not crafted in France. The best cheese in the world comes from North Wales, made my prize-winning cheesemongers at Snowdonia Cheese Company.  That area is sparsely populated: there are really more sheep there than humans.

What makes a great cheese? Well you have to start with exceptional milk. The milk used at Snowdonia comes from well-tended animals in rural Wales with no hormones or weird crap American producers use. You can taste the lush Welsh vegetation in milk from these animals. Another practice at Snowdonia is they age their cheese in caves. Real caves where climate and humidity are perfect for long-term aging.

The company's website is informative but obviously geared to European customers. Prices are listed in British currency. The company offers 15 varieties of cheese but sadly only two kinds are available in this country. One is their premier cheese, an extra-mature cheddar (Black Bomber) and a second is a less mature cheddar enhanced with Scotch whisky (Amber Mist). (Over there they don't spell whisky with an "e".) I bought two small wheels of each (7 oz.). The cheese is protected by molten wax covering.

Black Bomber, the extra-mature cheddar, is a delight. Its flavor is deep and rich. It will please most cheddar-lovers. A big plus is that despite its age the cheese's consistency is pleasant and moist. Most old cheese gets dried out and full of crunchy crystals. Snowdonia avoids that by using caves.

I have yet to try their other kinds of cheese (and am lusting after Red Leicester) so put a trip to Wales on my bucket list!


Thursday, March 28, 2024

Spring Break?

They said go south in Winter. They said it's warmer down there. Well... let me report South Jersey is just as cold as New York. 

More exotic (Wawa instead of 7-Eleven) but just as cold. :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2024


Why do we follow sports? Answers are as diverse as fans.

I differ from most fans because... well, I'm different. I enjoy watching elite athleticism on display: e.g., Manny Ramirez hitting a home-run for the Boston Red Sox. I like communal elation. There's nothing more visceral than 20,000 people exploding in thunderous roar when the Devils score a goal at their home arena. And, not insignificantly, I like insider-knowledge.

Many sports like hockey develop their own language with phrases and even ideas unique to it. Take this sentence for example: "In the third frame Allen displayed poise between the pipes." Would anyone except a hockey fan know what the hell that means?!

A last reason for following sports is to share an activity with friends. Games give us something fun to talk about. Instead of debating politics or fearing war, we can join together and celebrate our teams' victories, assign blame for their defeats and opine how we'd run things if we were a billionaire owner. These are fun diversions. 

For proof see this picture I snapped of a friend at a Devils game a few years ago. Even though she roots for a rival team (whom we shall not name but was just trounced by the Devils) her allegiance is no impediment to our enjoying a game together. The joy on her face is palpable and records one of my favorite sports memories.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Road Trip!

After being confined to my neighborhood for a year since my eyes went bad I'm down in South Jersey. I coaxed Robin into a short trip here. This is where Robin grew up so I guessed it would be the most comfortable place for her to visit. I was itching to get away from home and hit the open road.

The experience has been very instructive on learning what I can and can't do now. Or, more precisely, what I can do unassisted and what I need some help with.  That's critical knowledge to acquire: i want to travel in the future and need to overcome some steep challenges.

To sate a primal yearning we're going to Ocean City tomorrow. I want to touch water and feel the ocean's energy. 

Can a blind man make art? I haven't taken a single photograph since my eyes went haywire. I brought film and digital cameras with me on this trip and will give them a shot, so to speak. Should be eye-opening. The beach is always beautiful in Winter; I hope to capture some of that magic even if the pictures are fuzzy.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

A Chapter Closes

The biggest casualty of my vision's decline was losing the ability to ride motorcycles. As you know that activity was a HUGE part of my life. A passion, even. I rode for 25 years. Motorcycling rescued me from life behind a desk which had grown dull. Riding took me outdoors, added excitement and adventure to my days, and dramatically boosted my morale.

During those years I owned seven bikes. My favorite among them is a speedy rocket, the BMW S1000R. This bike is fast and fun. Capable of hitting 160 mph it offered me thrills on the most ordinary of days. I'd take it out, head for an empty stretch of highway and accelerate faster than I previously thought possible. No one saw my smiles but they fed my soul. They gave me strength.

The bike is relatively new and in mint condition. I considered selling it, which would have been easy given its popularity, but then this week an old friend (Bob) inquired about it. His current bike is too tall for him (he's short) and he wondered if my S1000R fit his stature. 

I invited Bob over this morning and he brought his lovely wife Joan. We had an enjoyable, long brunch in my kitchen with coffee, bagels and fruit. Afterward he sat on the motorcycle and pronounced it perfect. I knew it would fit him given the narrow shape of its seat. 

Before I say what happened next let me preface that by explaining how close a friend Bob is to me. Back when I was first learning how to ride, Bob encouraged and advised me. When I had an accident on the Goethals Bridge he came and helped me bring a damaged bike home. Every Christmas he and Joan invite us over their house for sumptuous dinner with a dozen friends. Bob's a wonderful guy whose generosity improved my life many times.

So, when Bob announced he wanted to buy the bike and brought up the subject of price, I didn't negotiate. I gave him the bike for free. Of course I had to argue with him a bit about taking it but I was firm and he finally relented. 

This is how I roll. Plus I've learned good deeds spread ripples of karma that return to you. I don't know when or how but doing this will benefit me at some future time. And besides it just felt right.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Breaking News!

In a surprise trade yesterday the New Jersey Devils acquired rookie goaltender Ralph Hummel. The new net-minder leaves his perch on a comfy couch for battle on the ice. Weakness in net has been trouble for the Devils all season but few expected a move as dramatic as this. Then again, the Devils are a team of surprises and fans were expecting something truly unusual in advance of the March 8 trade deadline.

Bucking conventional wisdom head coach Lindy Ruff announced, "We need someone with grit. Someone willing to face adversity head-on." Critics noted Hummel's recent partial-blindness as a drawback but Ruff rebutted the chirping: "People don't understand that you 'see' with your brain, not your eyes, using instinct honed from a lifetime of close attention. Ralph anticipates the puck as well as any goalie in the NHL today."

Also a factor according to industry insiders was Hummel being wooed by the Boston Bruins to replace Linus Ullmark for post-season play. Ullman's unsteady performance this year has been noted as a problem for the leading Stanley Cup contender looking to shore up its net-protection. Hummel, a long-time Devils supporter, turned down the Bruins' offer of more money, electing instead to play in Newark "where real hockey happens." Hummel promises "to bring the Stanley Cup back to New Jersey where it belongs." 

Hummel travels to Los Angeles to start in goal at today's game against the Kings. Sales of Hummel jerseys are exploding with the news.

Friday, February 23, 2024

New Ice Cream

My favorite ice cream comes from Jeni's, a small company in Columbus, Ohio. They make amazingly innovative flavors. I was introduced to Jeni's by my friend Emma who lives in that city.

You may recall a while back I reported on Jeni's Everything Bagel ice cream which has scrumptious flecks of garlic and onion. Surprisingly delicious.

As a treat I just bought a five-flavor sampler and am tasting new flavors. The best is "Maple Soaked Pancakes" which contains actual fluffy pancakes in salted butter and maple syrup creams. Yumm! This concoction recently won a SOFI award for Best New Flavor and deserves the honor. 

You can try a bite if you come by my place. Oops... too late. :)

Link: Maple Soaked Pancakes | Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (