[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f I were a superhero, I would be called Cheesegirl. As Cheesegirl, my job would be to fight the crime of prematurely aging cheese. I would hold epic battles with Penicillium and Brevibacterium, just so you and I can enjoy our cheese plates a little longer.
Lavonia Smith is such a superhero. As Maitre d’Fromage at Old Hickory Steakhouse, it’s her job to guard the artisanal cheese cave and all its delicious contents.
The only one of its kind in the area, Old Hickory’s cheese cave houses 18-20 cheeses from around the world worth thousands of dollars, kept at an optimum temperature and moisture level.
Like a humidor for cheese.
When you sit down for a tableside presentation of Old Hickory’s artisanal cheeses, Mademoiselle d’Fromage will conduct a full consultation about the right cheeses to suit your tastes, intertwined with anecdotes and the history of each cheese. Did you know that Italian cheesemakers use to hide Ubriaco del Piave in barrels of wine from the taxman? That’s what gives it that dark purplish rind and smell of evasion.
So why does Old Hickory place all this emphasis on cheese? Because Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson was fond of holding soirées at the White House. Filled with cheese. (If I were alive then, he would have gotten my vote.)
Cheeses to try? A semi-firm Ticklemore (England) is mild yet rich, earthy and full of character. Ossau-Iraty (France) is one of the world’s oldest cheeses—smooth, sweet and floral. Aged Manchego (Spain) is characteristically granular, tangy yet mild. A creamy, crumbly Smokey Blue (Oregon) reminds me of cool mountain air—pungent, tangy and sharp. A pliant Grayson (Virginia) is aromatic, meaty and delightfully stinky.
Photo: Bryan Applegate
Old Hickory Steakhouse
201 Waterfront Street
Fort Washington, DC 20745
Up to three hours of complimentary self-parking with dinner.