To me, all food is comfort food. I love everything about food. I love to shop for it, look at it, touch it and prepare it! It brings me comfort just anticipating going to specialty shops to find different and intriguing ingredients to use in my recipes. In this case, for this particular blog, I am going to go the "cheese" route. There are so many dishes you can make using cheese that are comforting, feel-good dishes to fill your body and soul.
Planning to go to The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, where you can buy the best cheese in the world from all over the world (they let you sample!), sends me over the edge! I've been going there for more years than I like to admit (okay, over 30), but they have been open and providing the highest quality of cheese and gourmet products since 1967. Don't let the fact that it is in Beverly Hills make you believe the prices are out of control. They're not. There's a price point for every budget.
Just opening the door, even before you've stepped foot inside, you are hit with the heady aroma of ripe cheese, lovingly displayed like those cheese shops you would find in Europe. And not only do they sell cheese, you can also find a variety of imported salami, prosciutto, mortadella, gourmet salt and imported pastas. There is a fantastic selection of great wine that Eric, the sommelier, will happily help you find. They carry six varieties of butter. Who knew there were more than two kinds? (I just thought there was just salted and unsalted!) Many varieties of extra-virgin olive oil are on hand, and I love the one that they pour right from a keg into an amber bottle that will keep the fruity goodness of the oil safe. Some of their balsamic vinegars are over 100 years old.
Norbert Wabnig is the owner of The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills and is the friendliest man in town. He makes you feel welcome the moment you walk in and is happy to spend time with you explaining what cheese is right for whatever you are planning. He gives you many choices at different price points. No matter what your budget, he will find the cheese!
The whole shop is kept at a temperature so cool that all the people who work there are wearing layered clothing. It could be 98 degrees outside, but they remain all bundled up!
I find it comforting to shop there because it taps into my European heritage (my mother was born in Italy; my father is first-generation Italian-American). The Cheese Store has the feeling of being with aunts and uncles on holidays. Speaking of holidays, there is literally a line out the door for days before any holiday, especially Christmas and New Year! If you pass The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills during the holidays, you will see me in line with my iced latte (because it's always warm in California), waiting for the doors to open. I'm usually first or second in line because I'm there around 9:30 a.m., and they open at 10 a.m. I don't mind the wait. Having my cheese safely in the refrigerator, I can make a variety of comfort foods.
I will share with you a recipe for a creamy macaroni and cheese. Yes, I know what you must be thinking: "Big deal, everyone does mac 'n' cheese." However, this is not your average mac 'n' cheese! This is macaroni and cheese the way it was made before they baked the life out of it and you ended up with clumps of macaroni with crusty cheese wrapped around it!
I've included a twist by adding a touch of truffle oil and truffle cheese available at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills or any gourmet market. If you don't want to use the truffle oil or truffle cheese with this recipe, you can omit it, but you will be missing a taste thrill!