This past weekend, more than 300 Whole Foods Market stores across the country cracked open wheels of Parmesan cheese.
Called the "Crack Heard Round the World," the event was a nationwide attempt to maintain the store chain's Guinness World Record for Most Parmigiano Wheels Cracked Simultaneously, set in 2008.
For the team members at Whole Foods in River Oaks, the event was also a mini competition to see who could crack open their big barrel of cheese the fastest. Grocery store team members Josh and Justin competed against Nancy and Zeke, the latter emphatic in his love for Parmesan.
"We treat the cheese with respect," he said of the two-year-old Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which must be opened using the authentic artisanal method of using five separate knives. "This is the gold standard of Parmesan." (Ironically, cheese is given bronze, silver or gold designations, with silver being the highest quality possibly attained in the U.S., according to Josh.)
In any case, it was quite a sight to see the cheese being opened. "Parm is meant to be cracked," insisted Zeke. And after a countdown of epic wordplay proportions ("Are you Reggiano to Romo? Reggiano! Go!"), the teams of two did just that, spending about one minute each carving into and flipping over a massive block of Parmesan cheese. At 45 seconds, Zeke's team beat Justin and Josh's time of one minute and eight seconds. After it was over, we were all treated to the piece de resistance - a core of soft, slightly nutty-flavored cheese that made our tastebuds tingle.
The experience started us on the hunt to find more cheese-related events occurring around town. Here are some that you may be interested in.Team members at the Whole Foods Montrose store held their own Parm cracking competition, too.
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center Wine, Cheese and Telescopes Under the Stars If you're willing to shell out a little for gas (and $30 to $40 for registration), you can make it to Galveston's Wine, Cheese and Telescopes Under the Stars event on Saturday, March 24. Guests can munch and marvel through telescopic lenses at Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the Orion Nebula. FunForSingles: Cheese Making Class
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Single? Like cheese? Then you may be interested in the FunForSingles cheese making class being held Monday, March 26. FunForSingles specializes in putting together enjoyable activities for Houston singles. In this case, you can meet someone new and learn how to make homemade cheese. A tip, however, if you plan on making a love connection: Bring a mint. Cooking Class: Under the Texan Sun with Paula Lambert and Susan Auler Cheese expert Paula Lambert and vineyard owner Susan Auler will make their way to Central Market Tuesday, March 20, for an instructional class on how to pair the right wine with the right cheese dish. For those who avoid wine and cheese tastings for fear of being exposed as uncultured in the ways of cultured milk and grapes, this class is perfect. In addition, Lambert and Auler will lead a cooking demonstration of some very specific and delicious cheesy dishes to be paired with fall wines.