Saturday, April 16, 2011

Get Cracking

Is it crazy that I arranged my schedule this weekend so I could be at a Whole Foods store today at 1 p.m. to watch a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano get cracked open? Now, before you make that judgment, consider that this was one of 300 wheels that were all being cracked open at the same time at all the Whole Foods stores, including the ones in the UK and Canada. A record-making event.

And there were samples. Mmmmm... samples.

Here's the wheel at the Whole Foods on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. This is about 80 pounds of cheese:

It looks rather regal, doesn't it? After all, Parmigiano Reggiano is the king of cheeses. This wheel was was dated February, 2009.

Here's the export stamp on the wheel. You can also see some of the dotted letters that brand the cheese.

These wheels are made from milk from single dairies. There's no wax or anything else on the outside of the cheese - it's all just cheese and technically all edible, although the rind is rather hard. It's good for stock, though, or you could toss in into a tomato sauce to flavor it, and fish it out when the sauce is done..

Here we go - starting to score the cheese:

Scoring is done. There's a nice, neat line all the way around the cheese:

The people involved in the cheese cracking had these really cool shirts. They could have made a few extra bucks selling those. A couple people asked about them. Heck, I would have bought one. Maybe next year they'll hand out a few to the onlookers. That would be cool, hmmm?

And now, stabbing the cheese with the little knives:

There's probably a fancy name for the knives. The cheese was stabbed all the way around, at intervals. You can see that the knives are pretty small, so they aren't going all the way through the cheese.

And now, it's just about ready for the cracking:

After an official countdown, the cheese was opened. It looked easy to do, but I probably would have sliced off an appendage or dropped the wheel on my foot if I was doing this:

And here's the inside of the cheese:

It was mentioned that not many people get to sample a wheel that's been freshly cracked. It's not like the cheese is going to go bad quickly, but I think it might have been slightly moister than other parms I've had.

And that's it. The cheese was wheeled away to be portioned for sale.

Mmmm.... cheese...


CatBoy said...

I have never witnessed this in person so I would say, no, you are not crazy. I am green with envy. Every one of your sense gets a treat when somebody cracks open a wheel.

Tupper Cooks! said...

That is very cool-I too would have been there in a heartbeat if I didn't live a zillion miles away. Thanks for letting us in on the cracking!

Unknown said...

the crackings occurred at every Whole Foods across the nation yesterday, simultaneously, at 3pm ET.

at Whole Foods, we only sell at least two year aged parm, from only spring and fall production, and as deb said, from single milkings.

my store cracks about a wheel a week, and i've never tired of snacking on the freshly cracked stuff. its certainly moister, and extraordinarily aromatic, but only lasts in that state for a couple of minutes.

p.s. - yes there shirts this year are awesome.

Donna Currie said...

Stephan, 3pm eastern is the same as 1pm mountain time, so I'm not sure why you're correcting that. The event I went to was in Boulder Colorado, as I said above, which uses mountain time so it happened here at 1pm.

Also, several WF sources, including the mothership, said that this was all of the WF locations, not just all the US WF locations. In Boulder, they made a point that it was also happening in England at the same time. If you can point me to a source that says it didn't happen in the UK or Canada, I'll change it.

Also, who's "deb"?

Anonymous said...

@dbc, you continue to cause great laughter in my house, as well as great learning. For this cheese 'cracking,' I'd be happy to settle for the bench scraps, pretty please... Next, I have to wonder why the round of Parm-R has to be - is marked "Export." Yes, ma'am, I am a BIG fan of genuine Parm-R and I do use it. Sadly, but the time I get get my grubby lille paws on a nice hunk, it is already dry enough that 'shavings' are impossible and fine grating is about the only option. The flavor remains. I have to wonder if there is a reasonable way to 'soften' it a bit, without screwing it up. Since someone from WF apparently responded, I must say that I'm not a great fan of that chain. They are my Go-To source for a few things, but their prices are -hmm - let's just say that they are (MUCH)higher than I need to pay for routine goods. And, while their producec may be organic (a standard that I do not accept - because it cannot be enforced) the produce in stores ~close to me is about nine points left of awful. Genuine organic, but a week past usable does NOT do well on my table.
Still A Very Great Fun Post. Parm-R and WF put a lot of effort into this event. It may have been at 3PM EDT in North Amerika, but to the math. I don't think their UK stores stayed open late, just to bust a big chez. Again, LOVE the blog - C. (you know who I am; this is a LOT easier.)

Anonymous said...

Gawd! I have to hit it THREE TIMES to get a take!
Cooking tonight? Due in about 30"... Braised lamb shanks. An all-time favorite Comfort Food meal. While the prep/cooking is a bit long, this is not Fast Food, the wait is easily worth it. -C.

Donna Currie said...

Hi C! I think 1 pm US mountain translates to 8 pm London time, but I might be wrong. It's a little late, but I'd think stores would still be open, no? Then again, I might have done the math all wrong.

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