Cheese, please.

I’m pretty sure I’m lactose intolerant. I haven’t been diagnosed with anything yet, but I just have that feeling. It’s an Asian thing. A large percentage of those of Asian descent can’t take lactose very well. But even though we got dealt the short end of the stick in the lactose-loving world, I still consume whole milk like there’s no tomorrow and cheese like it’s going out of style. I guess you can take the girl out of the dairy, but you can’t take the dairy out of the girl.

I haven’t seen a medical professional to confirm it, mostly out of fear that he or she will take away my dietary love of dairy.

So imagine my delight when I found out on Monday that most aged cheeses contain very little lactose. Elation? You could say so. Did I eat about 4 ounces of cheese right after I discovered this truth? A sheepish yes.

It was only appropriate I found out about this truth while at the newly opened Cheese Culture, right on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale (it’s next door west of La Bonne Crepe). Opening its doors a shade more than three weeks ago, the Cheese Culture has to be my new favorite store in Fort Lauderdale. It reminds me of whenever I’m in Paris or Montreal and shopping in those cities’ fromageries, where I’ve been known to enjoy a cheese or two or 10.

The Cheese Culture is owned and operated by an adorable couple, Susan and Mitchell Phipps. I was able to meet both on Monday, where they hosted an intimate meet-and-greet. Susan’s got to be the nicest person in the world while Mitchell’s hands down the most entertaining and funny man out there. Their store seems to be an extension of their home, and they welcomed us guests as if we were over for a Thanksgiving dinner.

We were ushered to the back of the narrow store (a slim, long setup that reminds me of a New York City restaurant) where we sat at a large wooden dinner-esque table situated below a gorgeous rustic chandelier. That was the spot where my life got a little bit better. That was the spot where I found out that cheese wasn’t as lactose-filled as I once thought.

That Monday, Susan and Mitchell invited a man named Max McCalman to give us guests a little cheese talk. McCalman is apparently the Sanjay Gupta of the cheese world. A guru among cheese gurus, McCalman gave a mind-boggling lecture of how healthy and good cheese is for you. And, more importantly, it apparently loses lactose content upon aging and fermentation.

In truth, nothing really has changed. I would have consumed the same amount of cheese that I normally would have even if McCalman didn’t give that talk. But, at least I’m not killing my gastrointestinal system intentionally. At least I can eat cheese with no guilt. I’ll let my whole-milk obsession and ice cream kicks do that.

The Cheese Culture holds pairing classes with cheese and wine. How cool is that?

This has to be the greatest photo in the world. Here, a shot of some of the many diverse cheeses the Cheese Culture has to offer at its store.


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