Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Crack Heard 'Round the World


I am still here. And yes, there are still cool things around Columbus.

So cool, in fact, that this box appeared in front of my door a few weeks ago, thanks to Tiffany at Whole Foods Dublin. She was inviting local bloggers to send in a recipe using the King of Cheese, the Parmigiano Reggiano. The recipe winner would be invited to help crack a wheel of the said cheese as part of their Guinness Book of World Records specialty event (all of the Whole Food stores in the US were to crack a wheel at the same time on March 10, at 3pm). Cool, yes?


When I saw the hunk of cheese, I looked around the kitchen to see what it could become. We are still in winter-mode here... nothing from the garden, nothing from the farmers market. A good piece of parmigiano like that does not need to be transformed, really. But I could not have sent in a recipe with a blank note card.

So I searched. In the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator, I found some left over parsley. In the pantry was a jar of walnuts. Bingo. With a bit of grated parmigiano, some lemon juice and a good amount of extra virgin olive oil (I used my new favorite, The Olive Orchard Sicilian EVOO), I was game.

Two little (pesto-lover) tasters helped me perfect the flavors before I jotted down the measurements of each ingredient (I am well known for not measuring anything at all). I sent a quick email with the newly perfected recipe to Tiffany. I closed the note with my good wishes, and went on about my life as usual. The pesto was tasty. I was thankful for the complimentary cheese and an invitation to participate. But all of that was in the rear view mirror.

Until I found out that my recipe won the taste test!

I had to read Tiffany's email a few times before taking it seriously. I was the winner, she said, among many tasty recipes. Moreover, my presence was requested at the Whole Foods store in Dublin, Ohio, precisely at 3pm on March 10, 2012. The mission: to crack open a parmigiano wheel and break world record". No pressure.


I had never done anything quite like it. The wheel was big, and hefty (about 90 lbs). Thankfully, my Whole Foods cheese friend, Dallas, was there to help me.


At 3pm sharp, he seared the wheel. With two sharp knives, I dug in, pushing and pulling. I could feel my head warming up (wishing I had 3 more inches on me for better leverage), and really could not remember where I was or why I was attacking a huge mound of cheese. But I did it. It cracked with just the right amount of force. The crowd cheered. I felt accomplished, and actually... it was FUN!


The staff at Whole Foods could not have been nicer to me and my family. I felt the warmth and hospitality from everyone I met. Whole Foods in Dublin is clearly a destination shopping place with beautiful produce, tasty treats, and knowledgeable staff.

Apparently the winning recipe was available for sampling prior to the cracking event today. If you were not there to taste, here it is just for you. I do recommend using the real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (like the one sold at Whole Foods) for best results.



Parsley-Walnut Pesto

1 cup parsley leaves, de-stemmed and washed
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup walnuts
1 large clove garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (we used the Olive Orchard Sicilian Oil)
1 Tablespoon Meyer Lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Pulse until smooth. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy over pasta, vegetables, as a spread on crackers or toast.