Archive for the ‘cheese’ Tag

The Value of Cheese and Friendship   Leave a comment

It’s interesting that I’ve recently read two nonfiction books that both include the word betrayal in their subtitles. After all, it’s a powerful assertion.  Michael Paterniti shares his in The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese. Initially the last word, the cheese, is what caught my attention more than the previous three. Those are experiences most of us know on some level, but the best cheese in the world? That’s something outside my realm.

Paterniti tells three stories: that of Ambrosio Molinos, a Spanish farmer turned cheesemaker; of life in rural Spain; and of the author’s own infatuation with the subject of his book, which isn’t the cheese at all, but the man behind it. Although Paterniti’s self-revelations are the least interesting, they’re fun to ride along with since he does such a magnificent job of bringing the larger-than-grand Ambrosio to life off the pages. It’s easy to see how he became so enmeshed in Ambroiso’s world, which is described in rich and vivid detail.

A combination of greed, poor business decisions and, ultimately, different versions of the same story result in Ambrosio’s fall from grace as a gentleman farmer to a man plagued with debt who is no longer able to produce the cheese that garnered worldwide attention.

The Telling Room could easily have been subtitled the power of friendship. It is power that comes from the beauty of reliance, fun and sharing to the more destructive and sad aspects that emerge when friendships fail.

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese
Four Bookmarks
The Dial Press, 2013
349 pages


Fondue Fun   Leave a comment

A cellar may conjure something dark and musty; fortunately, neither describes the Mona Lisa Wine Cellar. This offspring of The Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant in the space above features an extensive wine list along with cheese and chocolate fondue.


The super-friendly one-person staff oversees the 10 or 12 tables. Even though the menu is limited, diners still have decisions to make. For example, it’s not just cheese fondue. It’s possibly Old World, New World, South of the Border, Creamy Fontina, Greek Isle, or Brie. We opted for two fondue pots: Old World and Brie. These not only complemented one another, but also were the right amount for our group of four. The Old World is a blend of Emmental and Gruyere cheeses in a white wine base; the Brie, too, was in a white wine base and accented with almonds slivers. Both  were gooey with nutty undertones; the Brie was slightly creamier. Bite-size pieces of bread, fresh fruit and raw vegies are served for dipping.


Even if one of my friends was not celebrating a birthday, we were primed for chocolate fondue. Again, a number of choices are available including dark, milk and white. Further flavor profiles are created with the addition of liqueurs. We chose dark chocolate and chocolate with raspberry. Fresh fruit, cookies, marshmallows, pound cake, Angel food cake and brownies are served for dipping.


The beauty of fondue is that it’s communal and requires a slow pace. Add a bottle of wine and the meal is rich in taste and camaraderie.

Mona Lisa Wine Cellar
Four Plates
733 Manitou Ave.
Manitou Springs, CO

Not Tops in Tapas   4 comments

Spice of Life is always one of those reliable go-to places. Well, almost always. Breakfast and lunch standards have been part of the Spice landscape for (20) years. In truth, the food is more than standard, especially considering the small cooking/prep area behind the counter.

This is a popular Manitou Springs hangout. It’s the spot to meet friends, have a cup of coffee or pick up a gourmet food item, including spices. Recently, a beer and wine license was acquired and tapas appeared on the menu. Unfortunately, the tapas fall into the average category.

By definition, tapas are small plates. Although they’ve been around for years, it seems there’s a tapas bandwagon that has recently come into favor in the Colorado Springs area. Without taking anything away from the Spice guys (Michael and Doug) or their establishment, snacks are a more honest description for much of the Tapas menu. Handfuls of olives, cheese, slices of baguette and roasted peppers fall short of a well-rounded tapas identity. Of course, if we had ordered the Caprese Sandwich or Chicken Skewers, something that involved cooking or more preparation, I’d have less to quibble about.

Nonetheless, the appetizers were tasty: a large variety of olives, a tangy caponatta, and a creamy Roule – in this case made with sheep’s milk and rolled in herbs. I’ve always been pleased with the granola pancakes and sandwichs (especially the Vegetarian Delight), I’ll stick to those. Although, when enjoying a glass of wine, it is nice to have a little nosh.

Spice of Life
Three Plates
727 Manitou Ave.
Manitou Springs, CO.