The man in this photograph nearly ended my parents’ marriage. His name is Ricardo Huijon, and he knows his cheese. For the past decade he was at Dean and Deluca in St. Helena, but last year moved over to Napa’s Cheese Merchant at the Oxbow Market, which features 100-some daily varieties of cheese. Ricardo is so exceptional at his craft that he sold my father a $300 wheel of hard-to-find Massipou sheep’s milk cheese from the Pyrénées a couple of Christmases ago. One taste and my dad had to have the whole wheel, upon discovery of which my mother went ballistic. Over the next couple months, my husband, sister and I all eagerly volunteered to take wedge after wedge off their hands, but truthfully it was so good that the wheel disappeared pretty fast. The Cheese Incident is still a highly explosive topic, even though it was some of the most sublime cheese in memory—nutty, slightly salty, pure heaven. When I was at the Oxbow Cheese Merchant last weekend, I stopped by to see what Ricardo was recommending. He handed me a piece of creamy, buttery cow’s milk cheese called Tomme Crayeuse:
Sadly he had shared the very last bite of this exquisite cheese—more is coming next week—so we chose a triple cream instead. (Ricardo truly knows how to leave them wanting more.) Here are a couple shots of some other intriguing curiosities on hand like this sort of obscenely shaped Italian cow’s milk cheese with black truffles, or this girly “blonde” goat’s cheese covered in sultanas:
No trip to Napa is complete without stopping in to see Ricardo. And do yourself, if not your marriage, a favor and give yourself over to temptation.