For Adam Moskowitz, tasting cheese is a full sensory experience–nay a spiritual experience.
—INGRAIN, Winter 2018
STORY / Christina Perozzi
Yeah he wears a cow suit and calls himself Mr. Moo. What's it to you?
Dubbed “New York’s Prince of Cheese” by Politico, Adam Moskowitz is the owner of Larkin Cold Storage, one of the most important (if not the most important) cheese importers in the United States. Riotously funny and whip-smart, Moskowitz is a hip-hop emcee and a cow suit wearer. He’s a Renaissance man, a beer drinker, and a beloved husband and father of two. He’s a force to be reckoned with, and he knows his shit. He’s my kind of guy.
Adam and I bonded immediately when we were introduced at a cheese and beer pairing dinner that Goose Island was throwing with Saveur magazine in New York City. We immediately agreed to work on something together. That something was a sponsorship of his high-profile biannual cheese competition, the Cheesemongers Invitational (CMI). We’ve been friends ever since. When we were catching up recently by phone, I wanted to find out what really makes him tick.
Christina Perozzi: Why are you the way you are?
I am perpetually looking for deeper connections with myself and the world around me. In doing so, I continue to awaken my senses. The five senses working in harmony create the sixth sense (the sixth sense is actually "the Force" from Star Wars). So, basically, I am trying to become a Jedi and use the Force. Cheese is a perfect food to both awaken the senses and connect with the world.
What’s the deal with cheesemongers?
It turns out many people love cheese but know very little about it. Cheesemongers are the unsung heroes who work at cut-to-order cheese shops. Cheese is a living food. It needs to be tended; cheesemongers are the caretakers/matchmakers. A cheesemonger's job is to sell people the perfect cheese(s) for every occasion while hopefully educating them a bit about cheese.
What do you think is the most underappreciated thing about cheese?
The most underappreciated thing about cheese is the full flavor. So often people are afraid to try a cheese because of the way it smells (“It smells like feet!”) or the way it looks (“Is that mold?!”). But that cheese tastes delicious and has a round, multi-noted flavor. That “funky feet” smell actually tastes like garlic, leeks, and roasted pine nuts. That moldy blue cheese can taste like dark chocolate and pineapples.
Does weed enhance the cheese experience, and how?
Weed is, in fact, part of my training to be a cheese Jedi. Weed helps me connect with my inner Obi-Wan. It slows the world down and drowns out the white noise. It fires up the senses and makes me more present. It really is medicine for me.
What advice would you give to someone who was just evolving from pepper jack?
I love me some pepper jack! The next step up would be a Cotswold-style cheese [a variation of Double Gloucester with onions and chives] and then a truffle cheese. Those are two very snackable cheeses that will build up the confidence of the person eating said cheese; they can soon venture off into the “non-ingredient” cheeses. First stop would probably be Brie (without the rind) to enjoy the buttery and cabbage notes.
Make a cheese plate right now with three cheeses. GO!
I like to be considerate of milk types, cheese styles, and flavor/textures. First up is a Jasper Hill Harbison (Vermont) because it just won best in show at the 2018 American Cheese Society Competition and is one of my all-time favorites. It is a spruce-barked, soft ripened cow’s milk cheese. Next up is L’Amuse Brabander (Holland), which is a goat gouda, and last would be a Roquefort (France), a sheep's blue. We represent three countries, three milk types, and three textures—and a wide flavor spectrum all on one plate.
I know you’re WHEY into raw milk cheeses. Why are they better?
I wouldn't say they are better. Frankly, I have never met a raw cheese I did not like. The thing with raw milk is that it provides a cheese the opportunity to have a wider, fuller flavor.
What are the best new cheeses you’ve discovered?
We just started bringing in a bandage-wrapped sheep's milk cheddar from Spain that tastes like boiled potatoes. We are also bringing back Roquefort Carles (France) but showing it as a young profile, so it’s not so much a salt bomb and crazy creamy.
How much do you like me, and why?
I like you thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much. You are authentic and sincere but also a badass, no bullshit. You are an expert and don't flaunt it. You take care of business while having a good time. You are fun to be around, and you like good music.
Can I go to Switzerland with you?
Is there a cheese you don’t like? (And don’t say you can’t tell me.)
The thing with being a turophile [cheese lover] is that you force yourself to eat cheese you do not like. For example, I am not a fan of young goat cheese. They can be too barny or gamy for me, but that forces me to find a goat cheese I do like. For example, anything Judy Schad makes from Capriole (Indiana).
What’s your desert island cheese?
Point Reyes Bay Blue (California). It is actually my crack cheese; crack cheese and desert island cheese are basically the same thing for me. Unless we are talking about functionality on the desert island, and then I might change my answer to Parm (Italy) or gruyère (Switzerland).
Do your kids like cheese? What do they eat?
If a kid does not like cheese, then I 'm concerned something might be wrong with the kid. My kids love cheese. They will literally eat handfuls of shredded cheese. My son tells people his favorite cheese is Parmigiano-Reggiano, and he will eat a chunk of it like an apple.
What’s your ideal day off?
Going fishing for clams.
Get the full cheese beat over in our Cheese column.