The Cheese Trail: In Hot Pursuit of Sottocenere

Can you smell the pig sex?

Editor’s Note: Please welcome our newest contributor, Tyler. A Delaware native and DC resident, Tyler is a baker’s apprentice, bread salesman, and future culinary student. Clearly, we’re fired up to have him on the team.

Last week I visited my sister in Richmond and she lit up while describing an Italian cheese called sottocenere. So when I returned to DC late in the week, I went straight to the Dean & Deluca in Georgetown to find some. While waiting at the cheese counter (and listening to the gentleman on my right finish telling the associate about how Americans just don’t understand cured meats), I called my sister to double-check the spelling and pronunciation so I wouldn’t hurt my food cred in such esteemed company. “Sottocenere.”

Okay, “Excuse me, do you have any sotto–…” (voice trails off). “Sottocenere, no man, it flies out the door. It was gone six hours after our shipment on Wednesday.” Shit, I’ve stumbled on a holy relic of foodies. He told me to call next Wednesday. Well, next Wednesday rolled around, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t getting some sottocenere.

Let me pause and say that whoever is handling this coveted cheese is about as reliable as your neighborhood weed dealer—you know, the one you’re trying to catch between his own four-hour windows of intoxication, and who never knows when his “guy” is going to come through. I called five times from morning through afternoon, each time getting a pleasant “We don’t know if it’s today or tomorrow, but try back later.” This is no offense to Dean & Deluca; in fact, one helpful woman at the cheese counter actually recommended that I call Whole Foods. So I did, and there it had been the entire time…

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