I’ve had this dream for a while to bring a cheeseboard with me kayaking. Why? Well, this combines three of my favorite things – water activity, the ocean, and cheese! I went up to visit my grandma in Maine this past weekend, so it was the perfect time to realize my grand vision.
The first and most important step was to figure out which cheeses to bring with me on my sea voyage. It had to be cheese that could stand some knocking about and a spritz or two of salt water. My first choice was Selvaggio. It was the first cheese that came to mind when I thought adventure, ocean, and the probable smooshing it would receive. It is a very firm goat’s milk cheese from Sardinia that has strong black pepper flavors, even though there’s no black pepper actually in it. Basically, Selvaggio reminds me of a salt and pepper potato chip, and I always want chips at sea. And on land. My next choice was Essex Comté because I’m on that Comté kick since writing about Fort Saint Antoine. I wanted those brown butter, beef stew, sweet corn flavors on my cheeseboard, and since the cheese was warmed by the sun, all the tastes were pumped up. At that temperature the cheese almost melts in your mouth when you eat a sliver. Ahhhhhh.
Then I went for a couple riskier softer cheeses that could get ocean debris stuck to them because I’m crazy like that. I grabbed a piece the of semi-firm Belgian goat’s milk cheese Cabriolait. It was the sweetest cheese on my board, so I thought a spray of salty water if the wind got a little wild might be nice. And the most dangerous of all, the soft, squishy Elsa Mae! Soft cheese when things are flying about might sound like a bad idea, but Elsa Mae is so good that it can be squished into a ball and roughed up and it may not look great, especially with bits of seaweed that had flown onto it, but that doesn’t matter. It had to come with me. It is soft and silky with a sunny yellow rind and it tastes like biscuits with butter.
So, I had my cheese and the next step was to put it all on a board and get it out onto the water. I placed the four cheeses on a small wooden board, wrapped it in a few layers of plastic wrap, jammed it and my Leatherman knife in a small trash bag, tied it up with a twisty and I was ready. I sloshed into my kayak with the trash bag between my legs and paddled off to the lighthouse on the edge of the harbor in Rockport, ME. I wanted to be in open water away from any (fancy) boats I could drift into as I focused on the cheese. Out we went, my cheese and me, until we were freed of expensive water going vessels. I pulled out my board, unwrapped it and placed it on the deck of the kayak where it fit perfectly (what luck!) between the elastic cords. I didn’t bother bringing crackers or bread because I rarely use them anyway and cheese can stand some dunking but those crunchy cheese carriers cannot. I hacked off pieces of cheese and gobbled it up, gathered strength and carried on. It was an excellent break and probably the best snack I’ve ever had on a kayak. Next time, I’m bringing wine…
For the love of cheese and kayaking,
P.S. - The cheeses I just described would be good on any adventure. Selvaggio especially would happily come along on any adventure – a long hike thrown into your backpack for a few days, car camping, rafting, paragliding perhaps, a bike trip through the Green Mountains, watching all of Stranger Things season 3 in one sitting, etc.