“I’m from the projects, so the first cheese I ever had was government cheese,” says Three 6 Mafia rapper Crunchy Black.
Cheese has always held significance for the rap group. In addition to their Oscar-winning song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” their songs include “Where Da Cheese At?” (Lyrics: “Yeah I put ya body in a field/I ain’t fakin’ no deal, just tryin’ to get a meal … All I wanna know is where the cheese at!”)
“In the ‘hood, ‘cheese’ means ‘money,'” says member Juicy J.
After the Academy Awards, however, cheese meant Barrie Lynn, the self-titled Cheese Impresario whose contribution to the Oscar gift bag was a certificate good for a cheese and wine pairing.
So the rappers spent a recent afternoon at Norman’s on Sunset Boulevard with their manager, Sony Music exec Liz Hausle, and more than a dozen cheeses.
Favorites included goat cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese; Carr Valley Cocoa Cardona from LaValle, Wis.; and an aged Fiscalini Farmstead Cheddar from Modesto, Calif.
“Now that we’ve learned about this kind of cheese,” says Juicy J, “our cheese budget is going to have to go way up.”
Variety Weekend asked three L.A. fromagers for the cheese worth the cheese.
401 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Fromager: Todd Jasmin works the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills by day, Sona by night.
Personal favorite: Epoisses, cow’s milk from Burgundy. “I tried it this morning; it made my knees bend.”
Favorite pairing: Brin d’Amour, an unsalted Corsican sheep’s milk cheese wrapped in Herbes de Provence, pine needles and chiles, with a glass of Chinon Cabernet Franc
What’s in his fridge: Gruyere
5955 Melrose Ave.
Fromager: Donato Poto
Personal favorite: Le Marechal, raw cow’s milk from Switzerland wrapped in herbs de Provence
Favorite pairing: Cashel blue cheese from Tipperary, Ireland, with a glass of aged Vin Santo
What’s in his fridge: “Stinky cheeses, which doesn’t make my wife happy.”
8570 Sunset Blvd.
Fromager: Michael Bryant
Personal favorite: MouCo Camembert from Colorado. “So creamy I could eat myself sick.”
Favorite pairing: Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk triple crème with purple grapes
What’s in his fridge: Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog