Speaking of recommended restaurants in this part of New Jersey there is an excellent cheese shop in Summit. The Summit Cheese Shop is a tiny place near the train station that has a large variety of cheeses and, more importantly an extremely knowledgeable staff. Nancy first pointed this out to me, but since then many others have confirmed her taste in shops.
I'm not a big cheese fan, but Sukie is and this has become a go-to place when something special is needed. It isn't unusual to wait ten or fifteen minutes for your turn with one of the proprietors and no one seems to care. They are experts at figuring out what might serve your taste and the occasion and samples are usually involved. No one seems to care about the queue as it is part of the experience.
The shop is a place where the history of the cheese is well known starting with the terroir that influenced the milk it came from through the cheese's production. You hear phrases that roughly go "I've visited the maker in Connecticut - they have a little dairy with a nice southern exposure in the Northwest part of the state and the grasses and clover are particularly fine in the late Spring and early Summer. This cheese is from their happy little goats in June." A bit more and it would be a Monty Python stereotype.
The photo is of a friend sampling one of four different goat cheeses as the proprietor worked with her to find something perfect for the meal we were having that evening.
Flavor is a very complex sensation that combines several senses and as well as some interesting filters in the brain - well beyond taste on the tongue and simple smell through the front of the nose. An excellent and fascinating review for the layperson is Gordon Sheperd's Neurogastronomy.
The drivers of the psychology of taste perception and satiety have been formally studied by Brian Wansink and his Food and Brand Lab at Cornell. Work has been done in a variety of fields. Even the shape, weight and color of cutlery can have an impact.
A recent preprint from the Flavour Journal:
The taste of cutlery: how the taste of food is affected by the weight, size, shape, and colour of the cutlery used to eat it
1 University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3UD, United Kingdom
Recent evidence has shown that changing the plateware can affect the perceived taste and flavour of food, but very little is known about visual and proprioceptive influences of cutlery on the response of consumers to the food sampled from it. In the present study, we report three experiments designed to investigate whether food tastes different when the visual and tactile properties of the plastic cutlery from which it is sampled are altered. We independently varied the weight, size, colour, and shape of cutlery. We assessed the impact of changing the sensory properties of the cutlery on participants’ ratings of the sweetness, saltiness, perceived value, and overall liking of the food tasted from it.
The results revealed that yoghurt was perceived as denser and more expensive when tasted from a lighter plastic spoon as compared to the artificially weighted spoons; the size of the spoon only interacted with the spoon-weight factor for the perceived sweetness of the yoghurt. The taste of the yoghurt was also affected by the colour of the cutlery, but these effects depended on the colour of the food as well, suggesting that colour contrast may have been responsible for the observed effects. Finally, we investigated the influence of the shape of the cutlery. The results showed that the food was rated as being saltiest when sampled from a knife rather than from a spoon, fork, or toothpick.
Taken together, these results demonstrate that the properties of the cutlery can indeed affect people’s taste perception of everyday foods, most likely when expectations regarding the cutlery or the food have been disconfirmed. We discuss these results in the context of changing environmental cues in order to modify people’s eating habits.