It wasn’t until recently that I’ve learned to enjoy the occasional bike ride again. Don’t get me wrong I used to love riding my bike as a kid. In the suburbs of San Diego, my friends and I used to ride our bikes to and from school, up and down the neighborhood streets and into strangers’ front yards through hedges and down driveways. Strip mall parking lots and public school grounds were all fair game. It was glorious, freedom and independence on two thick tread rubber wheels. Then I got my driver’s license and riding a bike was suddenly uncool. Then college, and then work, and before I knew it, it had been years since my ass had seen a bike seat.
Until one day when I was living in LA and working in film (I was probably 23 years old and in relatively good shape), my friend Libby convinced me to join her for a spin class at the West Hollywood Equinox on Sunset Blvd.
“It’s amazing,” she said, trying to sell me on the idea of riding a fixed bike in a dark room with neon lights, loud music, and a crazy drill sergeant yelling for everyone to pedal faster….um, no thanks. “Nicole Kidman and Jodie Foster are in the class too,” she continued. Well if they can do it, then why not? I thought to myself, and I decided to try it, harking on my fondness for riding a bike so many years ago.
The moment I saw the rest of the class I knew I was underprepared for what was about to happen. Nervousness settled in, and I frantically asked myself questions. What are those gel cushion things everyone is putting on their seats? Do they give those out somewhere and I just missed it? Where do I rent the ugly little biking shoes that click into the pedals? Do I need those? Should I be wearing spandex….or should any of these people really be wearing spandex? I looked like such a novice in my armpit stained shitty white Padres t-shirt (game giveaway from nearly 10 years earlier), a baggy pair of Adidas shorts, and my black and gray New Balance cross trainers that were all the rage in the early 2000’s. “You’ll be fine,” Libby said, noticing the look of fear in my eyes, “it’s just like riding a bike.”
Barley 15 minutes into the class, and I was dying. My quads hurt, my shoulders hurt, toes hurt….even my eyes hurt from all the sweat dripping in. I was bruised from the pedals clocking my shins, because I kept forgetting that this wasn’t just like riding a bike, and you can’t just stop pedaling when you need a break. Why would anyone sign up for this shit? I asked myself, dripping balls of sweat from every pore.
The class eventually ended, and I was drenched, which I figured was the sign of a good workout. My broken spirit had been lifted slightly and I had a new appreciation for spin classes and how great they are for burning calories, but that only lasted a few hours. Because that was about the time I’d gotten home and felt this excruciating pain in my taint while trying to sit on the toilet. What the hell is that? I wondered, thinking I’d sprained my mangina earlier and just didn’t know it. Maybe my body was evolving? Maybe I was growing a vagina and this was just the beginning of it.
For the next week I was in extreme pain. It hurt to sit at work, to walk, to get up, to touch the area at all, which had turned raw like roast beef and was extremely sensitive. I was miserable, and swore never to ride a bike again.
Flash to today. I’m now in San Francisco, and biking is hip. Everyone does it, and it’s a great way to enjoy the city on a beautiful day. Jonathan likes biking so much he has two and he wanted us to go for a ride. The only way I would do it, fearful of hurting my mangina again, was if he agreed we could get some cheese from CowGirl Creamery at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market.
And we did. We bought three cheeses for a cheese platter we were serving for some friends at a dinner party we ended up hosting later that evening. We went with a soft goat cheese (Capriole Sofia Goat’s milk cheese),
a hard (L’Amuse aged gouda from Essex),
We typically go with a Hunboldt Fog goat cheese since we love it and it’s a crowd pleaser, but the Capriole Sofia was bright and rich and inspired us to try something new. The L’Amuse aged gouda is a hard cheese that just melts into a salty creaminess the moment it hits your tongue. And the Rogue River blue’s stinky goodness is counter balanced by the sweetness of the pear brandy.
We served the cheese at room temperature like we learned from a chef during our cooking class in Paris. Dried apricots, dried white and black figs, and raw Franquette walnuts were the perfect accompaniments.
The next day, I toasted some of the Rogue River blue cheese on some whole grain breads. Once the blue cheese was bubbly and hot, I topped it with fresh avocado, a dash of both black pepper and paprika, and some fresh basil. Finally garnished it with some zesty olive oil and voila! The perfect ouch-my-mangina-hurts-from-biking-yesterday-but-I got-this-cheese-to-make-it-all-better bite!
Blue cheese toast with avocado and basil
- slice of nutty whole grain bread
- three slices of ripe avocado
- 1 tsp of fresh basil roughly chopped
- 2 tbslp of Rogue River Creamery Blue Cheese crumbled (any blue cheese will work)
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- a drizzle of fruity olive oil (1 tsp)
Crumble the blue cheese evenly over the slice of bread and toast in a toaster oven (or in an oven with the broiler on low). Depending on how you heat it, the toasting time will change, so just watch it and know that it’s done when the blue cheese is bubble and thinned out.
Out of the oven, spread the blue cheese out into an even layer. Top it with the avocado slices and sprinkle with the paprika and a dash of pepper. Drizzle some of the good olive oil over the top and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil leaves and enjoy!